A Royal Pain

A little over a week ago, I was revisited by an old friend.  To be more accurate, I was revisited by an old enemy.

He always shows up at the most inopportune time – though with a personality like his, no time is ever a good one.  He appears and stays, unwanted, for upward of two months or even three and there’s nothing I can do to make him leave one second sooner than he damn-well pleases.  When in town, he’s my constant annoying companion.  He’s at his worst when I’m trying to sleep.  I can’t sleep for more than a minute without him waking me and reminding me that he’s not happy unless I’m miserable.  His very presence turns me from a somewhat likeable-yet-cynical rascal into a miserable, fatalistic version of myself, who no one could like.

He’s here right now, looking over my shoulder as I type these words in direct defiance of his presence.  He’s poking me in the back and nagging at me – challenging me to type without acknowledging him.  He’s that kind of an ass.  He gets most agitated when I try to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like exercising, watching TV, typing on the computer, and as I’d already mentioned, sleeping.

Enough of this sad attempt at cleverness.

The unwanted visitor is a disk which migrates from its proper home between two of my cervical vertebrae every so often.  It moves just far enough out of its proper home to compress a nerve root.  As you may know, nerves don’t like being compressed or otherwise jostled.  As an example, the ulnar nerve runs just inside your elbow, and when you compress it for a fraction of a second, the resulting yelp of pain and zing is what many refer to as “hitting your funny bone”.  While a brief compression of the ulnar nerve may have the inaccurate name of being “funny” or a “bone”, long term compression of a nerve root has no such stupid name.  I’m fairly sure this is because those who have experienced it have no creative urge to rename it anything short of pure profanity.

Anyway, I’ve been pretty diligent about trying to give my loyal readers something to chew on a few times each week, and this cursed disk has pretty much sidelined me.  I can barely tolerate sitting long enough to read the blogs of my favorites, let alone typing my own.  I owed you folks an explanation.  On the bright side, maybe this whole thing will serve as an internal editor and keep my posts under 500 words.

Thanks for your understanding.

62 thoughts on “A Royal Pain

  1. I have friends with back problems. Have you tried hanging yourself? What I mean is to throw your arms over something and let your backbone elongate. Sometimes the disc will slide into place. I hope you are feeling better!

    1. I actually have a cervical traction device, which does a nice job of taking the gravitational pull off of my neck, but once the nerve root is compressed, nothing works but time. I’m a PT by profession and have been to several of my colleagues without results. I’ve been to chiropractors (don’t get me started on them) and most recently accupuncture. I haven’t been able to go back to the accupuncturist because I couldn’t possibly tolerate the treatement of lying still for that long.

      One of the good things about this is that pain medication is almost worthless, so I haven’t been tempted to grow dependent upon pills.

      1. That sounds horrible. Okay so I live in Boulder and am exposed to all kinds of stuff. (my premise)
        My daughter has been in two car accident where she incurred whiplash. She was also in ballet, so she has terrible neck pain even after going to physical therapy. While working at Nordstrom’s this summer, a customer said, “You have neck and shoulder pain. I can feel it.” The store was empty and she did a “healing.” It worked! That was 3 months ago and she just finished a week of 12 hour days of dancing to prepare for the halftime shows at CU football games…..

            1. Baby-sitting the grandkids just now. As soon as my daughter picks them up, it’s straight to Nordstrom’s for me. I’m not overly optimistic, as the nearest store is here in South Jersey where there is a paucity of healers.

        1. No sweat Susie! I knew just what you meant. As a matter of fact, when I get lumbar (low back) pain, I’ll sit in a chair with arms and lock my elbows straight and let my lower back “hang”. The good thing is that your comment managed to bring some levity to the space, and lord knows we could use some.

          On another note, I struck out at Nordstrom’s. Luckily my wife stayed home or it could’ve been expensive.

    1. I was much younger then…I was fighting the good fight against the Kaiser…opium smoke was certainly preferable to mustard gas and the flatulance of my bunk-mates back at base camp.

  2. One of my good friends is a Chiropractor he adjusts me and I don’t have much going on, it’s more for my my wife she has the coolest looking plate and bolts fused on her neck when you take X-Rays I always love looking at it. Needless to say find a good chiropractor get adjusted, and try to stay off the happy pills that traditional doctors will give you a bucket of. I am not saying take it if needed but many people seem to have way to much fun with pain meds, so be cool…

    1. I’m not a fan of chiropractic. My experience with the profession is best defined by the following joke: How many chiropractors does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Just one, but you have to go back 8 times.

            1. I’m not sure what you mean. As a physical therapist, I work with people who are disabled by illness or injury every day. Some are big proponents of chiropractic and others are not. In any case, I’ve had more than enough negative experiences with more than enough chiropractors to have formed my decision not to pursue “a good one”. To be fair, there are plenty of people who feel the same way about physical therapists. I understand completely, as I have known several PT’s over the span of my career who I wouldn’t let treat my dog, let alone my spine.

  3. I feel for you. So sorry to hear you’re in pain. Back and neck pain are really horrible for so many people, and they end up having to try just about anything to get rid of it, which it sounds like you have. Hope it gets better for you soon.

      1. You just wait, thanks to Murphy’s Law, one of your previous posts will end up getting Freshly Pressed, and you’ll be in too much discomfort to be able to respond to all the comments. That’s kind of how life often works, isn’t it?…

  4. Poor guy. Sorry about your wonky disks. Hope they decompress soon and you get back to the good stuff!

  5. I wanted to stupidly give my usual “Hang in there” encouragement, but it might be too literal in this case. I’m the queen of injuries from running and taekwondo, but the back ones are the worst! No quality advice, because it always seems to be time, ice, heat, time, sleep, hydration, time. No magic pills for you, but lots of sympathy!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. I wasn’t fishing for answers or even sympathy, but wanted to explain why I’d disappeared. I guess by now, anyone who reads my stuff with any regularity knows that it’s my soapbox for whining about life’s annoyances, so I guess spinal problems are fair game.

  6. Sorry to hear Dave. And right before we go back to the new school year and have to sit through 3 days of such enlightening professional development days. My back is still bothering me a bit but my chiropractor has been helping. Not trying to convince you. You know a different one was the source of the injury. Looking forward to seeing you and hope you feel better soon. I know how miserable I was and wouldn’t wish the pain on anyone especially someone as amusing as you. You always help to keep things in perspective at work.

  7. You had me going there for a minute I was all… “who’s messing around with Point?” “Don’t make me come over the bridge and kick some ass!” Sorry to say I am useless at times like this unless you needed some sort of meal or to be told “it’s ok.” So, I hope you feel better soon…your sarcasm and wit have been greatly missed.

  8. I kind of felt bad “liking” this post, since clearly back pain isn’t a fun thing. Hope you feel better!

  9. Was wondering why you were so quiet. Hope it goes away and doesn’t come back. I’m not sure if any of the other commenters have mentioned, but you might try an osteopath or take up pilates with a yoga emphasis. Both ways you will get exercises and posture training which will put that thing it it’s place. Worked for me.

  10. It’s jaw-dropping how totally debilitating back trouble is. A couple years ago I wrenched my back something fierce and it was actually frightening, not just the pain, but how incapacitated I was.

      1. That’s funny – that was my immediate thought when I was in so much pain and could only walk very slowly, hunched over – “Oh my God, is this what old age feels like? I’m so fragile!”

  11. Well that sucks. I don’t have back problems…yet. But I have had a shoulder freeze up a few times. Not being able to turn your head to the left sure makes driving difficult unless you’re on a race track. Fell well soon. 🙂

  12. ugh, that truly sucks, 1point. how about yoga or a good chiro? yoga does my back wonders, but mine is more muscular than a disc, which sounds awfully painful. anyway, friend, get well, we will all be here – pathetically – awaiting your return. lool. sm

  13. Oh, you poor guy! I’ve had back issues for years, from muscle issues, sciatica (six or eight months of constant pain shooting down my leg!), two herniated discs, and I have loss of feeling in my left leg due to permanent nerve damage. I can’t feel your pain, but I can certainly imagine it!! And the Byronic Man is right, you just don’t realize how much your back does until you injure it. “Why can’t I lift my arm? Oh, yeah, those muscles are attached to my back. They are? Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that before?” And after you hurt your back, you really have to be careful, because it’s that much easier to hurt it again. So, you be careful!! Don’t overdo it! Of course, this is a semi-regular unwelcome visitor, so you already knew that.

  14. Dude. I’m sorry to hear about your back pain … that does suck. Big time. My back pains aren’t as serious as yours but I hate it when it stops me from doing what I enjoy. But you managed to sneak in a few laughs here and there. Hope you feel better.

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