My spine doctor told me last week I moved like I was a 90-year-old and I’m not offended. I feel like I’m a 90-year-old. I had trouble moving a 4-pound box today, whereas years back, I carried around a 75-or-more-pound box for enough time to where it surprised the mail courier when two people had to carry it out. I had thought that box was heavy, yeah, but now, a 4-pound box gives me trouble…
“I am so sorry to hear about the pain and the struggle it has caused you – it has clearly been life altering.” While I’ve been stuck in the second-opinion stages, where a doctor remotely reviews my case and considers whether or not [my life has value] my spine needs surgery, I’ve reflected on some things… I own two good rowing machines. Will I ever be able to use either one again to their fullest capacities?
I don’t want to be overly dramatic here, so let me just start by saying that knowing what’s wrong with my spine was a great relief, because once I knew the specific causes of my pains, then I could work toward fixing them. What if they had been psychosomatically imaginary? Not much you can treat. But if there are two bulged discs that might require surgery if things don’t improve by the time surgery’s approved…?
I am writing this in the middle of July. By this essay’s publication in early September, will the two discs in my spine – L34 and L45, if I wrote them down correctly – have healed correctly? After meeting with my spine doctor to discuss my options, we have to wait for the approval for surgery, and if my spine hasn’t healed by then, I’ll need to get surgery to decrease these bulges on my left side.
I was recently asked, rather accusatorially, if I was going to spend the rest of my life being an invalid on painkillers. My response was that this is what I’m getting the pain specialist’s advice on trying to avoid since I currently have to spend about 15 to 30 minutes laying down for every 30 to 60 minutes I sit upward. There should be a better way to live my life than that. I’ll have to wait and see.
For the first few years of my professional life, I remember feeling almost envy toward office workers. It’s been long enough ago now that I can say what I did. Almost weekendly, I joined teams of dozens – if not hundreds – of people moving hundreds – if not thousands – of workstations at Microsoft’s headquarters. While I appreciated the money, I always thought the work was absurd. Why didn’t these people stay put or plan their long-term office?
There are achievements in videogames that I don’t have the nerves to attain. Whether there are platforms I don’t have the patience to precisely jump on, given tens or hundreds of jumps, shots that I don’t have the patience to execute, or other examples, I want to casually meander through 80% of media to comprehensively meander through the remaining 20% of media. A casual rule of thumb might be: I’ll give up after 10 attempts in an 80% media.
When I wake up without pain, my mind will now automatically plan out charming long-term ideas that are quite enjoyable. I like some of them because they seem realistic and feasible. When I wake up to pain, it’s not so much that my mind becomes reclusively selfish, it’s just that there is no space for creativity. I can’t comfortably imagine what will happen in five years when I can’t even predict how tomorrow might go.
I keep remembering back to what the physical therapist and the pain specialist told me about getting out and exercising daily. The problem with that is I’ll wake up feeling well enough to slowly walk around a grocery store to get food, go, then I’ll be sore for hours later. This isn’t normal and I don’t feel right. There’s not much I can do to recover from this condition until I see my doctor again.
Part of me feels spoiled for thinking about how unfortunate it is that when I wash my hands and try to move my legs at a certain angle, it doesn’t feel right, because I swung too far. I am too impatient with myself. Throughout this process, I’ve tried to develop the patience of understanding that, yes, my sides hurt, sometimes within reason and sometimes unreasonably. Am I spoiled for wanting to have a pain-free day?