Tag Archives: my back

Non-compact disc

Spine (and something else)

The one on the left. I don’t know what the one on the right is.

I suppose I have to update you on my back. It’s pretty boring, so feel free to skip it. I don’t think blogs about people’s minor health concerns are particularly interesting, unless by chance you happen to share that particular health concern. But maybe I’m wrong and you’re champing at the bit out there.

So I had an MRI and some neurologist tests and all the blood tests the doctor could think of, just in case there was, I don’t know, something he might find out by doing that. And I’ve been going to the chiropractor twice a week, where he cracks my back and pushes my legs around and I get buzzy electric massage and then he gives me some exercises to do.

My bloodwork is fine, the results of the neurologists’ tests were all perfectly normal, and his interpretation of the MRI was just what I already knew. I have a bulging (or herniated) disk between the two bottom vertebrae in my back. It’s impinging a little on a nerve on the left-hand side, so I could get pain down that leg. But so far, I don’t.

The neurologist talked about prescribing some sort of non-habit-forming painkillers, and I explained that I’ve yet to take as much as an Advil for the discomfort, so that’s jumping the gun. Mostly, I hope to keep it under control by working on my core so that my ab muscles can take up some of the slack and help my back stay up. Not flop over. Whatever it would do otherwise.

It’s a bit unnerving when someone tells you about the “visible degeneration” of your bones. It feels as if possibly the next step is death, because your bones will finally just crumble away and you’ll be gone. I do worry about how this is going to affect me as time goes on, because it’s not going away on its own, and I don’t know how fast it will get worse. Both the chiro and the neurologist said that many people with this level of – bulge, degeneration, whatever – would have a lot more pain than I do. So either I’ve a high pain threshold (um, I don’t think so) or I’m lucky, for now.

I do feel it, and I can’t really tell if I’m noticing it more now because I know it’s A Thing, or if it’s actually got worse in the past two months. I’m trying hard to sit up straighter and use my muscles to pull in my stomach and do the exercises, and that helps.

So I will use it as required to get out of lifting heavy objects and shovelling snow, but otherwise will hope it motivates me to work on my core and that I can just shut up about it from now on. I’m sure you hope that too.


photo credit: General Popó via photopin cc

Strengthening exercises

Step 1: Tell the chiropractor that yes, you do (probably, still,) have an exercise ball because you used it when you were pregnant (and in labor, for that matter). He is impressed, and gives you a sheet of exercises that you can do using it.

Step 2: Come home and find the exercise ball, deflated, in its original box, pretty much exactly where you thought it would be in the basement. Since you moved house 1.5 years after the last time you used it, this is quite an achievement.

Step 3: Find a pump and the plug right there in the box along with the deflated ball.

Step 4: Let the five-year-old help you inflate the ball.

Step 5: Watch the five-year-old bounce the ball around until you can finally use it for its intended purpose, briefly.

Step 6: Pick up the second-grader from school. Have the five-year-old refuse to go to dance class even though it’s dance class day and in spite of your best efforts, bringing her all the way there and making her tell the teacher herself that she’s not coming to class today.

Step 7: Suggest that the seven-year-old do his homework straight away when you get home, just as he would have done in the library while his sister was at dance class. He will agree, but he won’t mean it, and as soon as he comes in the door it will be mayhem times two with the exercise ball until you banish it to the basement, amid wails and gnashing of teeth.

Step 8: Wonder when next you’ll bother your arse to get it back upstairs and do your exercises.

Maybe it’s my resolve that needs strengthening, just as much as my back muscles.

Exercise ball in basement

Glass containing some proportion of liquid

All the things I have not done that were on my to-do list for January:

  • Made the children write thank-you notes for Christmas [hangs head in shame; no excuse for that]
  • Booked the summer holiday. [Was just about to do this last night when Mabel wet the bed and all the information I had just entered and selections I had made timed out. Then when I tried again the flights had disappeared. I gave it up as a bad job and will try again tonight.]
  • Contacted my so-called contracting job to see if they might ever again need my services, for money, that they would pay me, that I could use to go to the hairdresser, for instance. Or pay for expensive summer holidays.
  • Planned dinners, preferring to continue to fly by the seat of my pants and make a lot of something-with-pasta.
  • Made muffins, because I need to do that today.

Things I have, however, managed to do, so it’s not all bad, you know:

  • Gone to the chiropractor, which is an ongoing adventure but I’m glad to have started it because I do officially have a bulging disc and it’s good to know about that so that some day when I accidentally bend sideways to pick up a dropped pencil and it suddenly agonizingly herniates, I’ll know what’s going on. Now do I have exercises which will “take the pressure off my spine.” Which is not all that reassuring when you wonder where else you can lean the rest of your body if not on your spine. And it’s nice, you know, when they tell you that it’s great because it’s not your whole spine. Just one little bit of it. So yay.
  • Acquired an audition for Listen To Your Mother, as promised, which was very easy to do once I knew it was a thing, because I wrote my piece and then when they said auditions would be happening I just sent an e-mail and they gave me a timeslot. So that will be this Saturday and I will tell you all about it afterwards so that if you do it you can be forearmed. (But not four-armed.)
  • Got anything done at all, such as keeping milk and cereal and toilet paper in the house, considering all the snow days and polar-vortex days and two-hour delays we’ve been running up against for the past few weeks.
  • Continued to make a renewed effort to, if not exactly prioritize, at least not let fall entirely by the wayside, writing that is not on my blog. By which I mean I have done a little of it and there are more words on the page than there were before. Chipping away at all that white space, I am, sentence by sentence.
  • Oh, and I did do that moving to WordPress thing I had planned for. And my stats are looking more realistic and yet not totally non-existent, so I suppose that’s good too.


Squid sandwich (not actually a food post)

While on the outside, this week has been about snow, and concomitant school closings and late openings, on the inside for me it’s been about having a back problem. Not that my back is any more painful than it was last week or the week before – in fact, since that first visit to the chiropractor it’s been a lot less painful in bed at nights, and the rest of the time about the same; a twinge here, a nudge there, bending at the knees not the waist; doesn’t everyone’s back hurt when they sneeze?

No, I suppose everyone’s doesn’t, but this has just snuck up on me so gradually that it really felt pretty much normal. Not something I should be whining about and certainly not going looking for medical intervention over. The chiropractor and then the nurse at the MRI both asked had I done something to it – an accident, I suppose, is the most common reason why someone relatively young like myself (don’t shatter my illusions) would need such treatment. But there wasn’t anything. It just sort of wore on.

I didn’t think I was fretting about any of it overmuch, but the night before the MRI I had that classic anxiety dream that my teeth were falling out. I was brushing them vigorously and then I leaned over the sink and several enormous molars just popped out. I thought “This is a dream thing. Maybe I’m dreaming.” So I poked a tooth to see if it would wake me up and it didn’t. I was disappointed but not very surprised, and annoyed that now I’d have to go and see the dentist as well.

The MRI was fine, though it did go on for EVER – they made me as comfortable as I could be while lying on my back and I listened to NPR on the headphones, which was moderately distracting, and every now and then I’d feel my shoulders and hips tensing up and I’d have to consciously relax. The noise wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated after all the warnings from kind readers – I think if it’s an MRI on your head maybe it’s a lot louder.

Afterwards the tech showed me on the screen where the dark shape of my cartilage was pushed out on either side of the vertebrae in the affected area. I had been envisaging it like a sandwich with the jam pushing out on either side, but of course cartilage is solid stuff so it’s not dripping away into the rest of my interior; it’s just sitting there and maybe being squeezed a bit more as time goes on. I have no idea what they do with that, and so far I haven’t googled to find out. I’m sure someone will tell me soon enough.

B suggested I should envisage the cartilage more as a squid, but I said it would have to be one with no tentacles. So now I’m seeing the head of a squid sandwiched between my two wholewheat vertebrae and wondering if it would just break in two and drop off on either side at any point… but it’s probably connected to the bone better than that…

At least I still have all my teeth.