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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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Moratorium.

I have desperately been trying to avoid social media in the last few days. My pain has been bad and I find that every single time I’m doing the cycle on my phone (Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, repeat repeat repeat…) I get more and more anxious. Reading posts on Facebook almost immediately makes me anxious, sad and angry. It doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree, I just do not seem to be able to handle reality outside of my own kind of tiny, currently dark world. My anxiety and anger, sadness and frustration only feed into the discomfort.

It’s so hard right now to stop myself from a quick CMD+T to check Facebook. For what? For what?? 

I am always in the apartment. Standing in line for anything is enough for the pain to come and ruin the rest of my day, maybe week. There isn’t anything too close to our home right now. The nearest coffeeshops and so forth are roughly a half a mile away, which used to mean nothing to me. I used to walk to work, 3 miles every day. At this time 2 years ago, I was jogging home with my backpack, 1.7 miles 3 days a week. Now, even a short walk in the wrong shoes can lead to later agonized immobility. I AM SO FRUSTRATED. If I do get out of the house, for a doctors appointment or something, I can’t even keep up with a New York pace any longer. I take short, careful and measured steps. I have a steady pace and think about every step. Curbs are often a challenge. A step down taken too hard can be the end of my journey. Sometimes it feels like the only thing I can do is surf the web — checking the same sites over and over again. It provides almost complete and utter, empty brained distraction.

I feel broken, socially. I feel like I have nothing to share, give. It feels difficult to provide conversation. I’m not sure, when someone asks me how I am doing, if they really want to hear my answer. At the same time, the fear of missing out is so real. I miss being at the bar, at our favorite haunts, with our wonderful friends. I miss being ridiculous. I miss dancing. I’ve only really been laid up about 5 or 6 months, but it’s really put some shit into perspective. I feel so silly for not moving more when it didn’t hurt so bad. Things like standing in lines has been throwing out my back for around 8 years, now. But at least back then I could still dance, run, somersault, swim, jump, play and wiggle. I want a magic cure, I want a time machine,  I want to feel like a normal person.

I can’t even begin to imagine what people who have been in worse pain for longer are going through.

Fuck, what a thought.

Even the projects I do want to start, that could potentially keep me busy, are seemingly impossibly out of reach. See, it turns out that doing stuff actually costs money. And when you can’t work or walk, money gets super tight and those kind of things go out the window. You are mopping the floor with dish soap — you aren’t buying podcast equipment or books for law school. Or even applying for law school, because it turns out that that costs a buttload of cash, too. It just adds to the cycle, the stagnation, the sometimes overwhelming feeling of failure and frustration.

Man, this has been pretty therapeutic, really. If someone actually reads this, thanks. Just going through it right now, hypothetical dudes.

Selfie 1

There’s this thing that happens when the only photos you share are of those moments you are doing something that makes it look like life is always on some ultra lightbeam trip. What this does, for those people who suffer chronic pain, is increases the likelihood that people are going to tell you how great it is to see you FEELING BETTER. Truthfully, a picture takes a moment to capture. It represents seconds, nothing more. Even a short video of awkward movement (there were a couple videos a close friend posted of me ‘dancing’ on Thanksgiving that represented approximately 20 seconds of the entire day – bookended by sitting, and we were dancing in slow motion,) seems to make people forget the word “chronic” at the front of your condition. I am not feeling better. I wish I was. I just managed to do something for a few moments. I may have even hurt myself doing it. It doesn’t feel like a victory to me, any way you spin it.

I think, for no particular reason at all, I’m going to try to share a selfie every day of what I am doing, no matter how mundane.

So here’s me, today. I went from the bed to the couch, took a hot bath in the evening, and came back to the couch. I’ve been in some pain today, afraid of my back going out. I was in worse pain yesterday. I am more worried than usual because I am out of meds. My new doctor didn’t want to prescribe me anything to put me out of pain, so here I am taking probably too much OTC medication to my detriment. But I don’t know that for sure, I guess. It’s all part of the ride. I had X rays and this last Wednesday, and return this Wednesday to my PCP for my bloodwork results and imaging results. Hopefully I get something concrete to hold onto. I will be content with the next step forward.

photo-on-12-3-16-at-6-59-pm

twinkle lights and sweatpants