[Tripping On…] Bad Spine Night

My tailbone hurt so much that it took about two hours for me to go to bed. I was too tired to get up and I’d already taken a painkiller earlier. Suffering through that pain was useful since I can better quantify how much of an impact on my life this post-surgery tailbone pain causes. I wasn’t alone in my suffering. My downstairs neighbor has been sick in bed probably, coughing intermittently, for days now.

I’ll hear the coughing during my midday nap and at night.

I never really felt angry at his coughing. If I felt anything at first, it was more of a concern that a well-timed cough would take me from my midday nap. Now when I hear the coughing, I suppose it is closer to empathy and sympathy. I’m not sure how to help and I can’t help much. In a sense, that’s the thing about experiencing pains, whether it’s being sick in bed – I only hear him coughing when I’m in bed, so I assume he’s directly below me – dealing with tailbone pains, or whatever the case might be for you or a hypothetical person if you want to remain outside of this thought process.

We all have a singular pain or multiple pains that can drag us down.

For my situation, I can get my pain addressed today when I meet with my current spine doctor. Having taken the post-surgery Oxycodone in response to the tailbone pain and having had it not help is a sign that something is seriously wrong. He documented this last time when I took an additional Oxycodone for the right side pain I experienced, likely due to overexertion. He sent me in for x-rays on that. Now, if the doctor does not want to help for whatever reason, then I can go talk to my pain management doctor or primary care physician for assistance, else my guess would either be physical therapy or maybe another x-ray?

This is where using that idle time, in suffering, can be helpful.

I made extensive notes about PT to review with the doctor. What sorts of exercises can I do? Which should I not? When we focus on things like this, they tend to linger longer in our brain than when we copy a list over from somewhere without much thought. As I lay in bed, adjusting from my back [where my tailbone only hurt] to my left side [where my tailbone and left side hurt] to my right side [where my tailbone hurt but not so much my right side], I thought about my satisfaction with my current PT office. Of the three physical therapists I’ve had there, one treated the process like a CrossFit session, another typically pushes me past my limits by accident, and the other just kind of gave up after my mobility had decreased significantly.

I think it’s time to go to a different PT office.

When my spine acts up the way it did last night, were it not for needing to wake up early like this to mentally prepare myself for the meeting with my doctor, I would get up, move around, and probably end up skipping sleep for the night. Taking an extra Oxycodone, in addition to the “extra” Oxycodone I took outside of trying to wean myself off them, could have led to me sleeping in. Although I’d already planned to be driven into the meeting today, I have a few things I need to tend to this morning – taking my digital notes, editing them once more, then writing them to bring in to review with the doctor.

If I were going alone, I would also practice using a medical recorder.

I have two smartphone recording apps – one for general audio while the medical recorder I’ve had installed for months without setting it up. I could have used it on a few occasions, particularly that old pain management doctor. Before beginning such a recording, I would start with something like: “I’d like to record this conversation. Is that OK? If so, can we start the recording by saying your name and that you approve of this recording?” Having someone along with me in the meeting today is useful because I’ve found that especially when talking about pains.

If you go alone, my doctors generally believed me less.

I drove to the old pain management doctor’s office while experiencing significant pain. Since I was able to drive there alone, however, I suppose it is reasonable to assume that I’m not experiencing significant pain. I suppose I understand that from a doctor wanting to avoid liability and empathy as much as possible sort of perspective, but I disagree with that perspective profusely. I feel like today, between having someone along with me and having my list of topics to review with the doctor written clearly on a clean piece of paper, my tailbone problems – which persist even now to the point where I’m at the 30-minute mark and am starting to feel that familiar pain – should be addressed by any reasonable doctor.

Like I say, if not, then I can go back to my two other doctors.

I had to get up to walk and alleviate the pressure on my tailbone there, so I thought about how I’ve done everything I could to address this pain myself. I stopped rigorously following the 30-minute sitting restriction after I found that I still experienced pain, and as I waited in bed hours ago to fall asleep, it does make me wonder what else I can do within my power. I could have shuffled around looking for a pillow to put under my tailbone. Would that have helped? Or hurt? I was in too much of a pain-struck delirium to clearly think about that. I could have further exacerbated the pain by moving around too much and finding myself in a worse condition this morning here.

Instead, my coughing downstairs neighbor, myself, and that hypothetical whoever, suffer until treated.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: While these sorts of essays are incredibly niché, I try to broaden them so they’re not just about me. It gets into a weird sort of first-person then second-person switchover that I’ve gotten better about writing over the years. But otherwise, I just write about how I’m recovering, since this is important information for others and is helpful for me, too, since I can process the information into something logical. I’ve slept on my mattress for a year and a half now, so I don’t think it’s my mattress, but what if it is?
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 October 06 [7:17am to “my two other doctors” at 7:50am; 8:01am to 8:06am]
Last Edited: 2020 October 06 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.