One of those days

One of those days

Nov 29

…when my back….is…..killing me!  I’m trying to figure out how to describe what I’m feeling.  The best I can come up with is: Remember the scene in Office Space where they go ballistic on the printer?  Now imagine that printer is my spine.  Yeah, that’s about how it feels right now.

I was wondering how long I’d be able to go with this blog before the title actually became relevant, and here we are, roughly one month in and I finally have to talk about it.

I have what has been diagnosed as Degenerative Disc Disease.  According to the spine specialist that I’ve seen.,  MRI’s have revealed that the bottom 2-3 discs in my back are dried up and dead.  She (who I’ll keep anonymous) said 2 years ago that there was no chance that these discs will ever be the same and that what has happened to them is completely irreversible.  She discussed multiple options, ranging form cortisone shots to spinal fusion, with the preferable method of treatment being “pain management” in which I incorporate things into my daily life like stretching, yoga, and weight loss to try and keep the pain from getting any worse.  “Management”.  It sounds a lot like “Sorry son, but there’s nothing you can do.”

In this day and age I have a hard time accepting that this is something that I’ll just have to live with.  I’ve since gone on a exploration of countless methods of dealing with back pain, with some success and some failure.  I’ve had other doctors tell me that these discs CAN be repaired and reinvigorated, so for the sake of hope I have to discard what the specialist tells me, regardless of how stupid that may be.  And I’ll say with complete honesty that there have been certain treatments (albeit expensive ones that I couldn’t possibly afford to do on a regular basis) such as Spinal Decompression that have done wonders in the short term, but without the ability to afford regular “maintenance” with these treatments I have no way of knowing if they are a just a band-aid or an actual real solution to the problem.

And then there are the episodes, like the one I am going thru right now…….I can go months with everything being “normal” with my back (and by normal I mean a manageable amount of pain that I can more or less ignore throughout the day), but when things go bad they go REALLY bad.  I can point a finger at what caused this latest episode, and its something that I love to do, but for the sake of my back I think I’m going to have to give up: Golf.  Every single time I’ve gone golfing in the last 3 years, the following 2 weeks has been a complete nightmare.  This nightmare involves me not being able to move without pain shooting down my spine and legs, my muscles seizing up, me wincing, and me even temporarily losing the ability to breath.  Its so bad that I don’t even attempt to get up out of a chair once I’ve sat down because its not worth the effort.

After a few days of heavy icing (8-10 times/day), enough advil to put a horse into a coma, a few visits to the chiropractor, a couple of massages, and an ongoing mood as sour as a cranky old fucker, I will be back to “normal”.  In the meantime, its times like these where I go through some serious self-doubt about the things I’ve been striving for on the athletic front.  Its my biggest fear that I’ll train for months and months for this upcoming Full IM Triathlon, only to have my back knock me out a week before…..and its a completely realistic fear that I’ll just have to cope with if and when it happens.  All I can do in the meantime is try to manage.  I can lose weight, for starters.  I can up the yoga/stretching regiment that I need to make sure I do every single day.  And I can hope that if I keep a positive attitude to go along with these small steps that things will get better.

Its an ongoing battle that I’m sure I’ll be talking about quite a bit in future blog posts.  Its something I deal with everyday, but for the most part keep quiet about.  I’ve lived with pain in my lower back for so many years now that I’m just used to it.  But its times like these that I can’t ignore it because my every-day routine is so affected.  Anyways… to ice, AGAIN.  :)

My back feels like this printer