Thursday, April 16, 2009
I got my MRI results yesterday. I have a couple of herniated disks in the upper center of my back. They are very small which is good news but still they are very painful. This would finally explain the pain and numbness in my arms and hands. What a relief that is! Up until now the doctors couldn't pinpoint what was causing the numbness and pain. They did all kinds of painful nerve tests and the results were always inconclusive. The nurse said that the herniations are too small to operate on and that the doctor will discuss treatment options with me in my next visit. At least I know now where part of the pain is coming from. Since my doctor is out of town (which always seems to happen in cases like mine :) ), her nurse read the report to me. I have a follow up visit when my doctor gets back from vacation on May 7th. Due to the location of the damaged disks, I may need another MRI of the cervical spine because the damage may affect another area (at C5,C6 and C7) which already has a problem. The not so great news is that the MRI I just had done does very little to explain the pain and swelling on the right side of my lumbar spine. This is new - I had 2 blocks on the left side in the fall of 2007 but I never had an issue, until now, on the right side. I have accepted the fact that it's all part of the degenerative disease. I'm not bummed or depressed, just anxious to begin treatment ASAP so the pain will stop and I can move more normally. Since the doctor hasn't read the MRI and made any recommendations, I have had no limits placed on my activity as yet. My past experience tells me that I will need to watch my body position when exercising and refrain from arching or hyper extending my back. I will also need to be careful not to lift over 15-20 pounds, which I'm careful with anyway. The good news is that I may be able to be treated with a series of spinal shots. My history with shots has been very good so if they can do this and it works, I will be very blessed. I will also ask the doctor if she will write me a prescription for a latex or TemperPedic bed. With a prescription, several of the bed stores will either sell you the beds without tax and/or help you file with insurance if your insurance covers speciality beds. I'm looking into getting a bed with an adjustable head and foot to help me get more comfortable when I'm in pain (which is most of the time).
As I think about the latest developments in my life, the future looks more promising than I originally thought. I have some viable options for treatment. I can make some changes to my environment to accommodate the changes in my body. Many people can live a semi normal life with the proper treatment if they are not working (I retired on disability in 2003) and they have a daily exercise program to keep their muscles toned to give the spine proper support. Thank goodness I got into the habit of working out a year ago! The tracking feature on SP Exercise Tracking is a very valuable tool for me. I can track exactly what I do so that, if I have a problem, I can monitor which moves are giving me problems and I can then eliminate them. It will also help me to put myself on a weight training cycle with light weights and make it easier for me to remember what I need to do and on which day. This is very important because my risk of injury increases substantially if I over train. I love my current gym and water aerobics classes but I have decided to look for a place that has deep water aerobics classes. It may cost a little more but the vibration/impact from exercising on the pool floor can aggravate your spine, knees, hips and feet. Goodness knows I don't need any more problems - the parts are wearing out as it is!!!
You may be wondering how I cope, stay positive and carry on with living when it seems like life keeps pitching me curve balls. It's simple. When I get up in the morning, I can decide to have a good day or a bad day. I choose to have a good day. Yes, some days are better than others. The point is, that I am making a conscious decision to be positive. For me, this is a learned behavior, even though I am a natural born optimist. Since joining Spark People in August 2008, I have worked very hard on being kind to myself and on developing positive self dialogue. My focus on the positive has rolled over into my overall outlook on life. Staying positive is an ongoing process for me and there are times when I really have to work at it.
Just remember two things. First, God never gives you more than you are strong enough to handle. Second, God never closes a door without opening a window.