My Herniated Disc Experience

In 2008, after months of pain and hobbling around, several radiographic images discovered that I had a herniated disc in my L4-L5. I was 13 years old. I had no clue what that even meant! I knew that men could get it if they lift heavy, but a herniated disc was new to me.

There are many nicknames for herniated discs such as slipped disc or even pinched nerve. To paint a basic visual of the definition, in-between our vertebrae (spinal bones) are padded cushions that absorb shock. Sometimes, due to injury, the nucleus of these cushions press against the outer ring, and in severe situations, seep through. This causes pain throughout the back, and can cause symptoms of sciatica such as pain through the leg(s), numbness & tingling, loss of sensation, and weakness.

I herniated disc after falling off of my horse…7 times, and I guess the seventh time was the charm. The pain was excruciating! My most comfortable position standing up, was leaning forward at a 45 to even near 90 degree angle just to alleviate the pain. When I could stand “straight”, I was often torqued to the side or scrunched downward, as my right hip was higher than the other, and quite swollen. After multiple physical and neurologic testing, in addition to radiographic scans, I was diagnosed with having a herniated disc. This set my snowball of events; triumphs and tribulations into motion.

I began with physical therapy. Traction was used, in addition to a TENS unit, in attempt to stretch and relax my back. Physical exercises were used to strengthen my muscles, especially my core. After several months of therapy, I was able to walk again! In fact, I even joined a soccer team! I thought that with the pain gone and my mobility back to normal, I could live out the rest of my life in peace…WRONG!

Flare ups are the worst. I could literally be asleep in bed, and wake up to what felt like a baseball bat striking my lower back. Just as I was certain everything was in control once again, I was the victim of a hit and run accident. The impact of the other car jolted my back, continuing my snowball. This time, the physical therapist taught me wonderful compensatory strategies to use while at school, in the car, or whenever my back began to ache. And again, I was on the road to recovery.

I was proved wrong once more this past week. I have returned to the gym in hopes of losing weight, but more importantly, strengthening my core to support my back. Well, how am I supposed to do that if my back gives out anyway? The pain this time has been worse than the first time I was ever diagnosed. Walking has become nearly impossible, and I struggle to maintain my independence in completing activities of daily living. My x-ray returned unremarkable, however, I failed my patellar reflex (I didn’t have one), even when using the Jendrassik maneuver to exaggerate the reflex. Unfortunately, even after 9 years of dealing with this, my options are physical therapy or steroid injections into my back. The only time surgery would be considered is when I am in my 50’s or 60’s and nothing else has worked. Just great! My first round of pain medication has been unsuccessful, so I am in desperate need for the new dose to work. I sympathize and now even empathize for those who have to go through this on a daily basis.

My back problems have been exhausting, but have made me much stronger. At this point, I believe that a herniated disc, is basically how effectively I can roll, scoot, and hobble my way around life.

Callie Cat’s Acai: A smoothie for humans

What I love about being home is our AWESOME Farmer’s Market. O’ahu has great ones too, but I love buying from and supporting local farmers from Maui. They have many organic and non-organic certified produce, baked goods, coffees, juices, and hot meals. I sampled an Acai bowl which got me hungry for more. With the fruits I bought from the market, I whipped together an Acai smoothie.

  1. 5 Ice cubes (Literally just 5. I don’t like it when smoothies are watered down or I’m crunching on ice chips with every sip)
  2. 3 Handfuls of blueberries
  3. 1/2 a Honey crisp apple
  4. 1/2 apple banana
  5. 1/4 cup coconut milk
  6. 2 Sambazon Acai packets (I got a large bag of them at Costco)

I added all of these ingredients into a Ninja blender and let it work its magic. My gosh was it good! It’s delicious, filling, and more nutritious than what I normally eat for breakfast.

 

Eyes Sealed Shut

It’s so easy going around living with your eyes sealed shut.

To live completely unaware of the world around you.

Oblivious to those who surround you.

You’d never know what people have been through.

That the inside of their mind is a fukin zoo.

Chaos. Pain & suffering.

Combustion of feelings.

Erupting through the soul and out of their eyes.

But even though you say you’re by their side

You have no clue

Because you keep your eyes glued.

To you

The world revolves around you.

The one person who

Seems to have the worst in life and

Battling the greatest demons and

Will never be able to empathize, man

Because they go around living with their eyes sealed shut.

Open.

See the beauty of the struggle.

The fall, the rise.

The disappointment and surprises.

That what you think you know

Is not so

and that no one is ever truly alone.

Because the struggle inside us

Could be the saving grace in someone else.

That what has been the worst for you

Was their greatest achievement to conquer

Or the epitome in the depths of hell.

That your worst is not the worst

But is becoming the best and

You wouldn’t have known

If you kept your eyes sealed shut.

Crock Pot Lasagna

This is the easiest lasagna recipe I have ever come across!

Here is what you need:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves of garlic (I used 3)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 45 oz jars of pasta sauce
  • 1 20 oz package of cheese & spinach filled ravioli (I got Pasta Prima spinach & mozzarella from Costco)
  • 1 1/2 tsp italian seasoning (I substituted with rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt and fresh pepper)
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Brown ground beef, onion and garlic. Drain fat.
  2. Stir in seasoning and pasta sauce. Cover & simmer.
  3. Spray a 6 qt crock pot with cooking spray or use a liner.
  4. Layer the pot with sauce, ravioli and cheese. Repeat.
  5. Cook on low for 3-4 hours

 

(just pulled out of the fridge for awesome left overs)