Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh, My Aching Back

Susan speaks:
This Blog Wrangler isn't doing much wrangling lately. I'm fine except for my back which got painfully wrenched when I bent down to pick up the newspaper. This same kind of back pull had also happened few months ago (and many times before that) but this time it seemed really bad. So I decided it was time to see an orthopedic surgeon to make sure I hadn't really messed up some sort of bone or disc.

I'm doing minimal Blog Wrangling (or even looking at other people's blogs) because the most painful position is sitting. I can manage about 5-10 minutes at a time. Careful walking is ok, I'm swimming my laps, but I'm also getting a lot of couch time and a lot of books read.
Don wasn't too sure how bad I really felt until I came home from the doctor and said I'd be getting some x-rays and an MRI on my lower back to be sure it wasn't a bad bone thing. An MRI? The big "Happy Box" they slide you into? Yep. Then he knew I was really hurting because I am VERY claustrophobic.

How claustrophobic am I? VERY, VERY.

We used to scuba dive in Hawaii and dive in and out of lava tubes, which are long underwater caves that thread along the coast line. For years we dove with some really great Dive Masters, Tom and Lisa of Dive Makai. They taught us a lot about underwater life, how to dive carefully, and how to manage your air supply. They loved to take us in the lava tubes to see creatures visible only with dive lights deep in the back of the tube.
We would slide in to the tubes slowly and carefully, tubes so small our tanks would bang on the top and our bellies would be scraping on lava rubble, single file, until we got near the end where we could shine our lights on some incredible little creature. Then we would carefully slide on past, out the back opening of the tube into open water. This would take about  20 minutes total. I did this one time. Just once.
On future dives my choice was go into the lava tubes with everyone else or to follow along the outer edge of the lava flow area, around to the other side, to wait at the back opening of the lava tube for everyone to come through. Unfortunately, the outer edge took you into an area where sharks often cruised. Here were my choices: in a small dark lava tube or out in the open, by myself, with sharks. Three guesses which one I took.

How did I manage the MRI? Since only a small part of my back had to be imaged it was not more than 20 minutes in the machine. And I survived it all thanks to the miracles of modern medicine: A lot, a whole lot, of Valium. I kept my eyes closed. I made them put me in feet first. They played a CD I brought. I was zonked out. I might have even fallen asleep except that MRI scanners are unbelievably noisy, even with the sound-muffling headphones they put on me, and the bed rattled and shook at times. I thought it would be soundless. Thank you, Valium, I love you.

Lucky, lucky me. Not bad bone or disc things, just degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis which I put in the category of "Growing Old is Not For Sissies". A lot of Advil and physical therapy are on the horizon.

Eventually you'll get more of Don back on his blog. He has pictures for you.


ArtPropelled said...

Oh Susan, You poor girl!!Congrats for getting through the MRI. Not something I've done but it certainly would drive me nuts.As for the lava tube....I feel breathless at the thought.
Hope you feel better soon!!Growing old is definitely not for sissies .... and I had know idea that it would be so daunting.

Lost Aussie said...

Those machines are definitely not for sissies! ^5's for getting it done and glad there is nothing more sinister than old age afoot!

Dyche Designs said...

So sorry to hear you've been in so much pain. I suffer with back issues so know how horrible it can be. I once had to have an MRI on my head (they wanted to check out my migraines). You're right the machine really is noisy. Hope your pain subsides soon. Gentle hug.

Diane O. said...

Bummer. My neck/back issues are basically taken care of with monthly visits to the chiropractor. Never had an MRI so I can't compare experiences. Hope you feel better soon.