Tag Archives: pain

YouTube

I haven’t been writing a lot. At least not this week. I’ve been exploring different creative and painless ways of filling my days. I’ve gone back to YouTube and it’s been fun for the past few days. Who knows how long I will be able to keep it up, but I’ve made a couple new videos that I’m proud of. I’m also a Tweeter, of sorts, and am on that Instagram thing. CandiceChetta is always my screen name because, you know, uniformity. Anyway. Little update.

Here’s a video with a big update.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkoapOWfNZj6dgc5RzCyMww

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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.

Hunchback.

Having just been going to the PCP assigned to me at the time my insurance became active, I decided to follow the advice and recommendation of a friend and switch to the PCP at her office. She had had the similar experience of non or half diagnosis over the course of several years with little result, and said that this office was where she found doctors that would listen and take action. So I made the leap and I switched to an office much further from my apartment and made an appointment, X rays at the ready, to get my second opinion (since Professor Doctor hadn’t really given me… any opinion?)

I have no plans to abandon the original treatment plan. I do not want surgery, that would be shitty. But I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to hurt myself jumping straight into physical therapy without first making sure what exactly was wrong. I walked into the appointment with my new doctor still feeling completely confused about what my actual diagnosis was. The physical therapy referral from Professor Doctor, on the line labeled, “diagnosis”, had simply written “LBP” in large scrawl. I went in with the chief complaint of severe lower back pain and left with the diagnosis of… “lower back pain”? Great. Thanks for clearing that up.

A friend was kind enough to give me a ride to the new office since I’d never been to that part of town, and it is not what I would call an “easy” trip for a person in pain and in a back brace who needs a seat on the train. The office is underneath the Subway tracks, the walls are made of frosted windows, and there are chairs along those windows, facing the receptionists’ desk. This office, you can tell right away, is an osteopath’s office. An entire half of the office is dedicated to physical therapy suites, the other half, exam rooms.

I saw, let’s call her, Veronica, first. Veronica hung, rapt, but my every word. She seemed really concerned for my well being, and was receptive when I told her how much pain I was experiencing and how it manifested. She took pages of notes and showed me images of spines on her computer. She read the reports from my X rays and defined and illustrated for me what every single term meant. She told me what she thought my pain was and how she imagined it starting. She told me that I’d probably be given a stronger anti-inflammatory  (currently I an prescribed Naproxen), and that she was sending me to the physical medicine specialist and that after I saw that person I would probably be seeing a chiropractor. All in that same day.  I was later informed that Veronica could be slightly alarmist.

The physical medicine doctor, let’s call her Pam, asked me many of the same questions, looked over my  X ray reports with me, and then pulled up the images through the Lenox Hill Radiology website. She shuffled back and through the images a few times muttering “ok…. ok…” to herself every once in a while. She excused herself and came back with the director of the office, whom we’ll call Director Doctor.

Director Doctor sat and looked at the images, immediately muttering to himself, “kyphosis.” And going over the rest of the images. He explained to me, and showed me, what a “normal” spine looks like and how mine, instead, is shaped like a C. He let me know that whatever it was that was causing me the pain I’ve been experienced, has only been aggravated and intensified by the presence of kyphosis and the scoliosis I was previously diagnosed with, and had confirmed at this appointment.

He said my disc height wasn’t worrisome enough to warrant an MRI at this point, and seconded the opinion that careful and daily physical therapy would do me some serious good, if the X rays were any indication of the state of the bones. He confirmed that he believes I have spinal arthritis.

Still, there is nothing structurally worrisome about the bones themselves. There is no sign of deterioration or breakage, or mineralization. All of my pain, it is hypothesized, is soft tissue related (also nerve related, when in an exacerbation).

Things I noticed:

No one wants to tell me that I don’t need surgery.

For every doctor, there is a diagnosis. Sometimes they overlap. Sometimes they add new parts.

Things I was told:

“This is something you’ll feel your entire life.”

“This will be with you forever. There’s no fixing it.”

“This is probably what makes everything else worse.”

“You will have a pronounced curve and probably be bent over when you are 60 or 70 years old.”

I started to believe these doctors as the 4 hour appointment came to and end. It was the first time I had looked at the X rays with a doctor. It was the first time someone actually pointed to the areas of an image that helped to translate exactly what was happening. I was physically examined by 3 doctors, thoroughly and with care. I spoke up, I asked the same questions over and over again of each of the three doctors, and I didn’t stop until I felt like I had covered all I possibly could.

So, you know, all in all, it wasn’t great news. But it was good to know that I had covered my bases and found a place where the doctors listened to and answered my questions. So, onto physical therapy it is.

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 4

Another bed, couch, bath, couch, bed day.

I have disappeared into Hogwarts. Yesterday was disappointing and my depression has been pretty bad the past few days. I found out that many benefits are out of reach, and that disability can’t even be applied for until you have some form of a concrete diagnosis. My PCP, so far, wouldn’t give me anything or even look at my back. He had my twist, (attempt to) touch my toes, and lift my legs — but he didn’t even look at my spine, not even a scoliosis test. So, I don’t know. I should be getting my X rays read tomorrow, as long as there’s no mistakes between the lab and my doctor.

I read almost all of The Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday and started Chamber of Secrets this morning. I have been  crying through almost every chapter, as I am a sentimental fool and also fragile. I wish there were more books. I really cannot explain how good it feels to completely remove myself from this world and return to school for witchcraft and wizardry.

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Selfie 3

Got out of bed a little earlier this morning than others. My upper back starts to spasm, sometimes, after a night of overcompensating for the potentiality of lower back agony. So I wound up on the couch around 7am or so with the cats. It smells like heat in the house right now, which I love. With twinkle lights around the windows and the smell of a hot radiator, it’s really starting to feel like the holidays are happening around me even if I’m not playing an active part. Struggling with how to handle holiday gifts this year.

Getting my X rays read on Wednesday.

Cried a lot after seeing if I could qualify for SNAP or disability in New York.

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See: Selfie 2