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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Setback of Sorts

I typed a post yesterday and didn’t get it posted.  It has been a rough couple of days since Saturday.  I went to the Reflexologist (Sharon) and she did a lot of massage work on my back and legs, since I had been having such problems with them last week.  She said I had all kinds of “ropes” in my lower back and she spent time breaking up the knots and working on the ropes.  She told me I needed to do a lot of stretching on an ongoing basis and that I did not even need to think about doing any strength training, probably for several months, until I had achieved full range of motion.  Strength training when you do not have full range of motion only makes things worse.  I did some stretching just while sitting or lying down Saturday evening.

Sunday, I was doing okay in the morning, although sore.  I got out and did a couple of things that required walking.  I got home and sat a while, and as the day wore on, my back, hips and legs began to tighten up, and by early evening, I was barely getting around.  It was my sciatic nerve and it was acting up with a vengeance.  I got in the hot tub at the lofts to see if that would help, and did some stretching while in the water.  It felt good while doing it, but I went back to my apartment and sat a while after that and it continued to tighten and get more painful.  I was in pain even just sitting on the couch.  I began having some other unpleasant sensations in my back and at one point, I thought I might have to go to the ER.  I lay down on the floor, first on my back and then on my stomach.  That seemed to help a little.  I also took some more pain med and a muscle relaxant, knowing if I went to the ER, that’s what they would do.  I was at least more comfortable sitting, but still in pretty severe pain when I stood up, and walking was impossible.  I was afraid I might not be able to sleep, but with the pain med and the muscle relaxant, was able to sleep.

 Monday morning, I woke up and was still in a lot of pain when standing.  Getting around was very difficult.  I would have liked to stay home the entire day, but with my backup out indefinitely, I didn’t feel like I could do that.  I asked our courtrunner if he could pick me up, so I wouldn’t have to walk to work.  He was at the doctor’s office with his daughter, but said he would pick me up when he was done.  It was getting pretty late in the morning and I felt like I needed to get to work, so I went to CVS and bought me a cane and I walked to work with the help of the cane.  It made me feel so old.  I made it to work okay, although it was painful.  I sat most of the day and would only get up when I had to.  Every time I would stand up, I would have to wait for the pain to wash over me and kind of work into putting any weight on my left leg; then I could painfully walk around the office, holding on to things as I went.  My daughter picked me up so I didn’t have to walk home.  It was pretty much the same last evening.  My poor dog has not been walked in 3 days.

I was a little better when I got up this morning.  I did a few things around the house – put in a load of laundry and put some dishes in the dishwasher.  My son didn’t come home yesterday (not unusual), so I had no help.  The girls are busy with their jobs and some struggles of their own.  I did feel a little better this morning, so I walked to work.  My co-worker had loaned me a crutch yesterday, which did seem to help – I liked using one crutch better than a cane.  I carried the crutch with me and would lean on it when I waited for lights to change, but walked without it and did okay, although slow.  As I sit at work today, at times I am feeling a little better, but I stiffen up again after sitting and it is quite painful when I first get up.  I am not doing enough walking at work to get past the stiffness, so walking around here is slow and painful.

My boss, who gets massages regularly and has some back problems of his own, said this happened because my muscles had built up a kind of protection for the nerve in my back.  When she broke up some of that stuff my back has built up, the nerve was now unprotected, so my vertebrae clamped down on the nerve.  Things will improve as the muscles are loosened so I can get in better alignment, so the nerve is not pinched.  The thing is, from what I know about what is wrong with me, according to the spine surgeon, I am not sure that can happen without losing a substantial amount of weight or having surgery.  According to the MRI, the structure of my spine is pretty messed up.  I have all kinds of degenerative stuff going on, plus the spondylolisthesis (which means one vertebrae has moved forward – anteriorally – in relation to the one below it), and this is causing my nerve to be pinched.  I also have pretty severe stenosis, which means the spinal canal has narrowed (from the bulging disc(s), bone spurs, etc.) and all that is putting pressure on the nerve.  My last x-ray showed that it had further narrowed since the one the year before, so it is quite severe in nature.  I don’t know how much good just causing the muscles to relax is going to help, if the underlying problems are not corrected, either with weight loss (which will help to a degree) or surgery.  I will continue to read and study and ask questions.  Sharon told me to get a book called Wharton’s Back Book, which in her opinion is the best one about teaching you how important stretching is and how to do it, when and how to strength train, etc.  I saw in the index it does talk some about spondylolisthesis, so I will see what it has to say about everything.

Sharon told me reflexology and massage can help some people avoid surgery, but for others, it helps the surgery be more successful and keeps the muscles, etc. surrounding the spine in better condition before and after the spine is corrected.  I have a suspicion that my back falls into the second category.  I am not someone who has occasional back pain.  My back is in pretty bad shape and it is going to take some major things to make it better.  Weight loss does often help spondylolisthesis, because the added weight in the abdomen pulls the top vertebrae further forward and out of alignment.  It will help the other problems some, because the extra weight is putting an enormous amount of pressure on my spine, but it may not cure it because of the severity of my problems.  I wish I could have a disc replacement when the time comes.  That seems the most natural way to restore the spine more to its normal state, instead of fusing it, which causes loss of mobility, etc.  However, my insurance will not pay for disc replacement because it is considered too experimental at this point.  It is a fairly new procedure.  I hope that by the time I have anything done (if I do), that it will have become the proven method for treatment and therefore be covered by insurance.  However, fusion might be required if the slippage is not improved enough by weight loss.

Losing weight and the work Sharon is doing on me will give me the best chance of the best recovery.  I must stay on track.

Speaking of which, my eating has not been great the last 3 days, as far as what I have eaten, but portion control has been pretty good, compared to how I was eating.  I could slowly lose weight, I think.  However, I have not been able to walk or work out the last few days.  That is not good.  I could probably do the recumbent bike now (although Sunday night and Monday morning, I do not think I could), but the walking there to do it is the hard part.  Everything is 4 times harder to do right now.

I can’t remember if I posted about thinking about getting a “scooter” chair.  I sure have been wishing I had one the last few days.  Maybe I will look for a used one.  At least I could keep my dog walked and maintain my independence as far as getting to work if I had one.  Until I get my back healed up more, I may be having more episodes like this.  But I do believe it is just an episode.  I will be back to where I was in a couple of days, I think.  I hope.

I must keep my eating on track.  I must.  And this is not a good time of year for that.  Always some kind of goodies around.  So far so good today.  I had some Kashi GoLean cereal with milk for breakfast.  Lunch is a Farmhouse chicken salad from Potbelly.  I seem to do better on higher protein and less carbs, so this salad is good for that.

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