Getting Old Sucks… If You Let It

**(I began this last night, and finished it today).

10/28/13 Getting old sucks, but it’s better than the alternative! I thank God every morning that I wake up and am fortunate to be as healthy as I am. I do not take my life for granted. I have had more than my fair share of being struck with illnesses and other health related obstacles- and think I have handled most of it very well. I complain, usually in a jokingly way, and have discovered that I do handle pain pretty well. Which may not always be a good thing. My friend Laurie said to me recently that she had mentioned to her husband something along the lines of ‘her warranty on her body was expired’. I told her that I needed an extended warranty on mine. Not kidding here folks!

Listen to your body! If it is acting in a way- a bizarre sort of way that has a mind of it’s own-, follow your instincts and seek medical help sooner better than later. And demand that the physician take you seriously and listens to your every word! While I have been basically bed ridden for the last two weeks (except the one lucky day that I forced myself to take the grandkidlets to the ‘Halloween Town’ Carnival…. and maybe not one of my more ‘sane’ moves), I have had excrutiatingly LONG hours to lay in bed and ‘think’. (Albeit when my mind wasn’t so overpowered with heavy duty narcotics ripping through my very being). I was trying to recall when I felt back pain, when did this first surface. I do know that my left backside near the hip has been sore and stiff for 6 years, easily. When ever I am sitting or laying down and need to stand, it takes a good 10 seconds or so to get straight. Even during the year and a half at the gym I felt like this every morning. But once I got there and did ‘my thing’, I ‘assumed’ I had just needed some loosening up. (Apparently the answer was: WRONG)! I had mentioned it to not only my previous doctor, but the doctor before her. No one took me seriously, they said ‘getting old will do that, your bones will stiffen’ etc…… Even when I would tell them that I could HEAR crunching, FEEL crunching when bending, sitting, turning over in bed, it was no concern. I ‘looked’ fine. “Take an ibuprofen” is the mantra I always hear.

Looking fine can also be a detriment when you really do have something serious going on in your body. Believe me, I know. First hand. If I could tell you ALL the times over the years that I have been told ‘….But you look so good, I wouldn’t have known you have MS’, I could fill entire volumes of encyclopedias. I know people mean it in a good way, they’re extending a compliment to you. Where I sometimes find it irksome is that some folks tend to go overboard. It’s as if they expect me to have a snaggle tooth, gray skin, drooling like an imbecile and arched over like a half moon. What truly gets my undies bunched up is when you tell a physician your complaints and they brush it off, that’s an entirely different matter. In hindsight, over these last few years when this pain had become quite noticeable to me, I should have been in the doctor’s office daily, carrying on until tests were ordered, but then again, who has the money for co-pay’s at each visit, when you’re in there daily? Not me. (These last 2 weeks of doctor visits, ER visit, PT appointments ALL required co-pays and it can get ugly with your checking account.)

So with exrays taken, MRI’s performed and a scheduled appointment with a pain management doctor in another week for a consultation of beginning steroid injections into the disks of the spine, I have high hopes of getting on some kind of rehab routine. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the Physical Therapy I went to for 3 visits. I orginally started going because of incredibly rock hard knots on my neck and shoulders. (A WHOLE other story in itself). But the night before my first appointment is when I woke up screaming like a banshee in the night, due to the sword like cutting pains tearing through my right buttock. When the therapist saw me in PT, he worked on my back along with my neck (even though he had no paperwork for the back). I writhed in agony at each visit, couldn’t lay down without taking 10 minutes to get in a position that was adequate (and it never really was), and wondered WHY in the hell I was there. This was sheer misery! By the third visit (and last) he suggested that ‘Maybe we could try traction?’ Ok, I am a nobody in the PT field and have NO way of knowing what traction entails. It was like I was put on ‘the rack’- as in torture.
(The rack is a torture device consisting of a rectangular, usually wooden frame, slightly raised from the ground, with a roller at one or both ends. The victim’s ankles are fastened to one roller and the wrists are chained to the other. As the interrogation progresses, a handle and ratchet attached to the top roller are used to very gradually stepwise increase the tension on the chains, inducing excruciating pain).

I was laying on this table, strapped in all directions, with 80 lbs. of pressure doing something or other, and was being pulled and squeezed together nonstop for 15 minutes. (And yeah, I felt like a victim)! The crunching in my lower spine that I have heard and felt for years was sounding more like someone stomping on a bowl full of captain crunch cereal. Is this normal? Should I be feeling like I am in some crazy experiment of terror? To see how long I can hold out for before the disks in my Lumbar spine disintegrate into the table? When I got off the table and couldn’t stand upright and moaned, the therapist told me ‘You need to go see your doctor ASAP.’ No kidding dude! I didn’t get in to see her, even though I called immediately upon getting back home and asked to be seen (I was told at the end of the day that she was ordering an MRI and told me to go to the ER). She doesn’t know about the traction and I am going to mention it to her tomorrow morning when I see her. When I saw her Friday morning, I told her I was ‘doing my leg and back excercises the best I could’ (something PT told me to keep doing…… even though they could see I was nearly completely imobile). She looked horrifed and said “NO!!! DO NOT do anything with your back or legs!” (I can only imagine what damage the traction did to my spine…. I’d rather not think about it).

With the staggering amount of nerve pains I have had riveting out of my spine, through my buttock, down my leg, I kept telling myself that ‘tomorrow will be better’. When tomorrow came and went, and I wanted to throw myself out of the bedroom window more than once (but couldn’t get up to walk to said window), I’d repeat again about ‘tomorrow will be better’. After 12 days, the shooting spasms that were constant, subsided. Tomorrow finally came. I obviously have this problem, some new obstacles blocking my path, but you know what? I am NOT becoming some old codger who sits on the couch and does zip! I don’t know when I can get back to the gym and as crushing as it is to me that Zumba may be OUT for quite some time, I will be going back to the gym and on with my life. I am sure there are machines there can help build up strength in my back?

10/29/13 MRI RESULTS: Saw the doctor this morning, got my results from my MRI.

First let me say: when the doctor’s computer monitor is still on, after they (medical assistant/doctor) leave the room, don’t read it! After the medical assistant took my blood pressure and pulse ox, she left the room and I was still sitting in the chair right smack dab next to the computer monitor. I looked it over and couldn’t read much, looked too blurry. But the bright yellow highlighted box at the bottom of the screen caught my attention. This I COULD READ: lesion on mri. (Hysteria ensued, let me tell you).

In comes the doctor and she begins to tell us that there is a protrusion in the disk (L4-L5) and arthritis in the spine is causing pains as well. The extreme pains I have been experiencing is from the sciatic nerve. That is what has gone haywire (I knew this already). She gave me an exam that entailed her pressing into my right buttock- and aggravating it once AGAIN. She said she could feel that it is still tight and active. She reiterated to me that I do need to see the pain management doc next week. (Already have the appointment). As she is going on and on all I can think of is ‘lesion, tumor, cyst’. After a couple seconds, Dennis brings up that we were snooping around and read the remarks regarding the MRI. “Oh, I was getting to that” were her words. Apparently there is a lesion showing up on my kidney (KIDNEY, for crying out loud!) and she told me my next step is to get an ultra sound (which is scheduled for this Friday). My mind at this point is still whirling over the kidney showing something amiss. What about my joint facet disease, my degenerative disk disease? But the kidney? Was this even in the picture? Whoa, slow down mind because I am quite dizzy thinking about this latest development! She told me it could just be a cyst. I’m hoping it’s ‘just’ a cyst. Just a simple cyst. I feel so beaten down at this very second and can honestly admit I don’t know if I can deal with anything else.

I’m having a birthday in 10 days and I was welcoming turning 56. I thought 55 wasn’t too shabby and had hoped I could breeze on into my next birthday with as much verve as I have mustered up recently. I’m not giving up on that wishful thinking. I may be turning 56 but it’s just a number. I only pray that my body will stabilize out and I can grab hold of that ‘extended warranty’. Getting old sucks BUT it doesn’t have to. I’ll continue to take what life hands me graciously, and be thankful for my health.

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