A Horizontal View

With the two or three years that have slipped by since I've blogged regularly I hope my perspective hasn't changed too much. I hope I haven't aged so much in those few years that the blog has become less of a "life enthusiast" account and more of a "cranky old lady bitches and moans" type of blog. Though things have changed in that time, both externally and internally I am still relatively young at 48, fer cryin' out loud, and I do still have LOTS of enthusiasm and joy. It just gets a bit more selective as you go along.

However, there is one staring, glaring, cranky old lady issue that needs to be addressed before I can continue on to the joy part. A very few of you know that for the last year and a half I have been stricken with severe back pain, and have been mostly confined to bed. Since my last "episode" a year and a half ago (an episode for those of you lucky enough to never have had one is where the back twinges so badly you fall down and then can't move an inch for hours, not even to get to the bathroom,) since then I've been in pain every day, and unable to walk, or sit, or drive or carry anything. It has completely changed my life, from an active person who rode their bike 8 miles a day, ran up and down stairs easily and walked the dog for miles across town, to someone who can barely move without terrible pain.

I haven't talked much about it because...well, it's depressing, and shocking, and a bit...well horrible. And it's private, you know. Facebook is not where I want to talk about my back pain. It's also very confusing and maddening because nobody knows exactly what it is. I have been to several doctors, back specialists, three PT's, a chiropractor, a shiatsu practitioner, a rolfer, a nutritionist, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist...and now I don't know who is left to see. I add that I am better than I was a year and a half ago. I can get about a bit better, walk a little farther, lift a little tiny bit. Then I have to rest, and I still spend most of my time in bed, laying on my stomach which is the least painful way to exist. I have ice packs handy at all times, night and day, and I'm still taking a small amount of pain medication.

I thank the gods of health every single day that I can at least get around better than I could a year and a half ago, and I beg them not to let that worst kind of pain happen to me again. I do worry that it will because it's not like our bodies actually rejuvenate with age, do they? It's sort of a downhill slope really, isn't it? And so I ask the gods to at least allow me to maintain the mobility that I have now. We'll see what they say.

I am glad to write about this condition on my blog, at least this one time anyway, because I did not find enough out there about back pain during my own search for answers. And it is very helpful to hear someone else's story. Little clues from other people can help you track your own condition. As it turns out, everyone is so different that back pain cannot be measured by any consistent scale. What one person barely feels for another person is torture. I am one of those strange cases that is seriously immobilized by pain, but nothing wrong shows up on the x-rays, or the MRI's. No visible impingement, vertebrae or disc issues, arthritis...nothing. But sometimes I can barely walk without a cane.

I continued searching on the web for answers and I have decided that what I suffer from is some kind of sciatic nerve impingement with severe radiating sciatic pain. (Nothing old-lady about that!)

I also found out some extremely important information about a very unassuming vitamin it turns out I was totally deficient in. VITAMIN B-12. The only medical person that mentioned my possible deficiency in this supplement was my nutritionist. Turns out that you can only get B-12 from animal products, so vegans and vegetarians HAVE to take a B-12 supplement or they risk SEVERE NERVE DAMAGE. What?! Why didn't the doctors catch this when I told each of them that I was a vegan, and had been for 12 years. I had no idea I needed this supplement and that it had such serious consequences if I didn't get it.

 So I had some B-12 shots and now I take a supplement (along with folic acid to help with absorption) every day, and I actually feel better. So word to the wise, even if you're not a vegan, make sure you get your B-12 supplement. There is all kinds of new data coming out on the importance of this vitamin.

Having been so handicapped for so long I have a much more horizontal perspective on the world. I have taken up meditation, which is brilliant. I recommend it to everyone. I have also become quite the film critic, having a LOT of time on my hands to binge watch HBO and netflix. Stay tuned to this blog for some film and television reviews coming your way. I have a lot to say on the subject!

I also have a new love for puffy recliners. Whereas I used to see them as hideous, hopelessly out-dated monstrosities, I now see them as my dear, dear friends. I also have a new soft spot for expensive mattresses and rubber-soled shoes. (No old lady, here, nope siree!) Right this very minute I am typing on my "bed desk" --  a wonderful invention for people who have to work on their back. I just got it from Amazon, and it is AWESOME! It takes all the weight of the laptop off of my body and allows me to work easier, type better, and even draw.

So, I enter this fall slightly more optimistic than last fall. I am looking forward to a few autumnal activities that I missed out on last year, and plan on giving some big thanks this thanksgiving for the small improvement I've seen. Fingers crossed that it keeps getting better, however slowly.

Ok, that's it for the blog post about back pain. (Boring, Sidney!) Just wanted you all to be up to date.

Now, on to the joy.   xoxoxo

footnote: On Tumblr I found this post about disability in medieval England.

"In medieval England, the 'lepre', the 'blynde', the 'dumbe', the 'deaff', the 'natural fool', the 'creple', the 'lame' and the 'lunatick' were a highly visible presence in everyday life. People could be born with a disability, or were disabled by diseases such as leprosy, or years of backbreaking work.
Attitudes to disability were mixed. People thought it was a punishment for sin, or the result of being born under the hostile influence of the planet Saturn. Others believed that disabled people were closer to God - they were suffering purgatory on earth rather than after death and would get to heaven sooner."


Stephilius said…
Oh, the back! As you know, I - literally - share your pain. (Though it does sound like I've got off a bit easier than you have.) I've been maintaining since last year's big incident, but now it's a matter of having to be crazy careful and living in fear that I'll just forget and relax and have another horrible occurrence.

Good that you're putting this information out into the blog world. Here's to each of us continuing to hang together! : )
Diane said…
Oh Stephen, I'm sorry you're still affected by "the incident". I guess there are a lot of us out there, and it's impossible to tell just who. As a noted back-pain author wrote, "There are hundreds of thousands of other sufferers, they just don't advertise it. You don't tell the stranger on the street standing next to you in a crowd about your back pain, necessarily." A compassionate understanding from others is so helpful for one's attitude. I send you pain-free wishes and hopes or an incident-free future mon frere! xox bisoux