Tag Archives: degenerative disc disease

Herniated Discs

It’s almost like living a nightmare, realizing that the rest of your life doesn’t look anything like you thought it would. Like you wanted it to look. More horrifying, not only does your life no longer resemble something familiar, you can’t even see what it looks like. You have no idea. All you know is it hurts every day from the moment you wake up to the moment you try to fall asleep.

The one fluid part of my diagnosis was the herniated discs — Doctors didn’t want to say that they had actually herniated because all they had to go off of was an X ray — which really didn’t tell them anything at all. The report indicated herniated, but the films didn’t, really. At least, that’s what I was told. That was my takeaway, from one spinal surgeon (Professor Doctor) and one DO (Director Doctor). No one wanted to say, “You don’t have herniated discs,” because the fact of the matter was they had no idea. “HAVE A NICE TIME IN PHYSICAL THERAPY!”

It’s not a fluid diagnosis any longer. It’s been utterly and horrifically confirmed through the MRI I had a week or so ago that I have two herniated discs, and impediment on my nerve causing me searing pain. I also have a cyst on the outside of my spine, and some kind of legion on the inside. I still don’t necessarily know what any of this means, as I read the report myself through my patient portal online. Tuesday is my appointment with a doctor who will tell me what my future looks like and what all of this means for me.

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Selfie 7

One week in to this little project and how different today looks than Selfie 1.

I mean, I look the same, but the circumstances have been turned on their ear.

I have a degenerative disk disease and spinal arthritis. What now?

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I need to find a way to make money. I need to find a job that won’t kill me, throw out my back. Problem is, I’ve worked several different types of jobs over the past few years and all of them have thrown my back out at one point or another. Sitting for too long hurts, standing is out of the question for more than 5 minutes at a time. All of the doctors and internet people say that one of the worst things you can do for problems like this is “rest too much.” But no one seems to have answers for those of us who are already to the point where we can’t get around. They also say “Don’t do anything that causes you pain.” Ok, so I’m supposed to exercise, but not do anything that causes pain. I mean, what if everything hurts? All the time? Then what do I do?

So, I’ve been kind of just doing what I’ve been doing. Lots of couch time with lots of pillows to bolster anything that feels weak. Get up often (carefully) and do something, anything. Make the bed (slowly,) do the dishes, feed the cats, light a candle, clean the cat box. Every move must be calculated and with intention. From going to the bathroom to getting a glass of water to sitting back down again.

I put together a little Amazon wish list full of things that would make life stuck at home slightly more comfortable, kind of as therapy, half hoping someone might want to help out and send a little sugar. Things are really tight. Aaron and I sometimes struggle to afford food, these days, with my being unable to work the last 6 months. There is no savings, there are no credit cards. There is only debt and cash. I’m so lucky to be on ACA Medicaid, otherwise I’d probably die. Literally. Actually die. Either from this disorder or from killing myself. If I didn’t have this help I have now I don’t know how I could possibly do anything. I would wind up a complete invalid.

Whoa. Ok, stop spiraling. I think it’s about time for my bath.

Selfie 6

I made my appointment with a spinal specialist and will be seeing him next week. Spent the day kind of reeling, still, from everything. It’s hard to see how the rest of my life looks from here. It’s hard to concentrate on law school applications when I don’t know where I’ll be 6 months from now. It’s hard to think about the fact that we booked a flight to Puerto Rico and 12 days in a beautiful artist’s retreat in Viejo San Juan for an extremely belated honeymoon (not to mention the first vacation we’ve ever taken in our adult lives, ever,) when I have no idea what it will be like to be alive during June 2017.

Just got to keep all of my parts together.

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See: Selfie 5

Selfie 5

Today was a hell of a day.

I found out I have degenerative spinal arthritis and two herniated disks, with a third starting to go the same direction. That’s it right now. I have a referral for a spinal specialist whom I hope to see next week. I guess, it’s possible, things could all change when he takes a closer look. It could be that they have not yet herniated, but I may honestly be a little pie in the sky with that one. It’s been years. The pain is unbearable. There’s no doubting that.

I think it would be silly of me to not have expected some bad news, you know. During our slow, patient walk to the office, today, I said to Aaron, “I think, unfortunately, that the best news today might also be the worst.” Meaning, that I really didn’t want to hear that there wasn’t anything wrong according to the X rays. I didn’t want to leave with more questions than I started with. I wanted to know something. And now I know something. With all the pain I’ve been through it was pretty obvious that something was wrong. Very wrong. So, like, good to know. But I’m really not feeling great about anything.

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