Back to Back


198965_10150442174035226_3577768_nDo you remember being in junior high school when they would do the health assessment testing and you had to stand on that wooden board and bend over with your hands in front of you and almost touch your toes, then the nurse would look at your spine and feel along your back to see if it were straight? Well, every time they did that when I was a kid, they’d always have to call someone else over and ask me to do it again, and then sure enough, my parents would get a note home telling them to have my checked at my doctor’s office.

They took me to the doctor, but he said mine was mild enough there was no need to worry about it. After that, my parents never took me in again. Well, apparently, as I aged, this scoliosis worsened. Perhaps my parents should have taken me in again, but they didn’t and we can’t change the past. So now, in the present, I’ve been diagnosed with acute adult scoliosis, which really, comes from having untreated scoliosis as a kid. My spine is twisted, badly. One of my shoulders is considerably lower than the other, though most people don’t notice it–I do. Especially when I’m getting dressed up and I look in the mirror to see how I look, I can definitely tell.

When I went in to have my MRI of my spine done a year or two ago, the technician was great with me, and he laughed a little. He said, “The machine makes ‘slices’ of your spine and then I have to go in there and match them up and make them a whole image. I went to look for the next slice and couldn’t find it… it was twisted, way down there.” It was funny, but he showed us what he meant. Sure enough, my spine twists really badly at the bottom of the thoracic and top of the lumbar. There is a curve there, going the wrong directly (loss of lumbar lordosis–my spine is straight where it should curve and curves where it should be more straight.

I have dessicated discs, bulging discs and impingement–I didn’t even know that was a word. It is, though–spell check even says so. I have a lot of back problems…usually, though, my back is the least of my worries.

Well, today, it’s my back keeping me down. Whether it’s from all the time I’ve spent sitting up in the wheelchair recently or the fact I’ve been more mobile than normal for me, something has knocked my back out of whack again, and it’s bad. I can handle the bone-on-bone grinding, arthritis type pain that comes from my back. What I have trouble with is the nerve pain that comes when the spine is compressed. The nerve pain is the worst, because nothing touches it–pain pills don’t work, muscle relaxers occasionally help, but not usually. And depending on which part of my body the nerve belongs to, the effects of the nerve compression can be quite widespread.

For example, if it’s a nerve that controls my arm, my arm might tingle and go numb or I might not be able to use it even if there is no tingling or numbness. Sometimes, I’ll reach for a glass of water, and I simply can’t pick it up (yes, I spill a lot). When it’s my leg, sometimes, I won’t even feel tingling or anything, but I go to stand and my leg is jut ‘missing’, like it’s not even there.

Other times, it’s so bad, the pain so intense, that all I can do is lie in bed and writhe in pain. I never understood that term ‘writhe in pain’ until my back problems started in earnest. I get it now. The first time the sciatic pain hit my leg, I would have gladly gnawed it off, chopped it off, whatever I needed to do to make the pain stop. Anything. For the first time in my life, I understood why someone in severe chronic pain might actually pray to die. I have never, ever wanted to 197845_10150442141340226_4853428_ndie–but I could at least understand it from that perspective. There is no other pain like it in the world.

This is coming from someone who had natural childbirth and says it wasn’t so bad. I’ve broken plenty of bones, bruised and beaten myself. I’ve had a minor surgical procedure with no pain meds. I’ve had central lines inserted while I was awake with no benefit of pain meds. And yet–this sciatic pain was the absolute worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Like, I didn’t even know pain like this existed. You want someone to share secrets, give them a bout of sciatic pain and they’ll crack to make it go away, I promise you.

Nothing in the world feels like that feels.

If there is one thing I can impress upon you all now, especially you younger folks who think it’s not cool to wear those back braces at work when you’re lifting things, or you don’t lift with your legs and not with your back, etc…. protect your back. Protect your back. PROTECT YOUR BACK. Unlike other parts of your body, the back doesn’t heal the same and once you injure it, you’ll live with that injury for the rest of your life and when you get older, it will worsen. And when it does, you’ll regret not having taken care of your back when you were younger.

There is no pain like this pain. If I can save one person from having to go through this pain by writing this blog and impressing upon you how important it is to keep your back healthy, then my pain might be worth some of what I’m going through.

So listen to me. Save your back. Be nice to your back. Do everything you can to keep your back healthy. Because I’m telling you, I’m only 42 years old when I’m writing this and I feel like a crippled old woman when my back goes out, and the pain is unreal. You don’t want to experience this. You just don’t.

Stay well. Stay mobile. Stay healthy.

Love and stuff,



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4 Responses to “Back to Back”

  1. Don’t know if you could take it with your other meds, but gabapentin has been a Godsend for my sciatica.

    • Michy says:

      I do take gabapentin, and it’s the only thing that touches the nerve pain–but it doesn’t make it go away completely–it also leaves me very, very sleepy. I take 300mg, and I can take it up to four times per day. It DOES help. How much do you take?

  2. Latisha says:

    I feel so much happier now I undsertand all this. Thanks!

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