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.
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?
Four days ago, I did ten strokes without the bar on my rower, and stopped once my legs hurt. Throughout physical therapy, I went stationary biking for longer, with the secondary purpose of getting me back into rowing, with the primary purpose of reducing my lower back pain. Three days ago, I went for twenty-six strokes without the bar. I didn’t go yesterday or today because I went to PT and did other activities respectively.
Depending on how my appointment with the pain specialist goes, my new physical therapist says the next option might be seeing a rheumatologist. I’d only heard that word in passing before, someone that studies issues that can hurt various parts of the body, so maybe that’s someone who I’ll be seeing tomorrow? Since my X-ray results didn’t point toward any major issues, I’ll have to keep stretching, practicing proper posture, and working toward better health.
I had to get some coffee so I went to a local grocery store for the first time in months. The last time I went, my physicality was still in good shape. This time, I felt significantly older than I really am, but other than masks and plexiglass cashier shields, it was chaotic like old-normal. Over the past two weeks, especially, my health has declined noticeably enough to where I can’t walk at full speed.