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.

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.

What is a weekend?!

2017 has been FLYING by! I cannot believe that January is nearly over! School started on the 9th, and I’ll be having my first quiz in just a few days! With all that being said, I constantly ask myself where is the time going?!

As a very busy graduate student, I spend 5 days at the school/clinic. 4 of these days, I am typically there from 7 am to 7 pm (mostly due to transportation issues). But nonetheless, I am hard at work. Yet, as productive as I may be, I still feel like there is more to do. Spending my time at school is good in that I can remain focused on my work, however it still gets boring very quickly. When I get home, it’s late, and all I want to do is eat, shower, finish my treatment notes, and sleep. Which means I push everything else to the weekend.

The weekends is where the rest of my life happens. It’s when I try to catch up on sleep, spend time with my cat, as well as prepare for the next week, go grocery shopping, and attempt to finish all other chores. During the weekends, I struggle to find any sort of motivation to even get out of bed! I then become easily distracted and make every excuse to get off task.

My apartment is a current reflection of my life, and that both embarrasses and startles me.  It looks like a tornado blew through my apartment. I try to keep up as best as I can, but not to make excuses for myself, it’s difficult to maintain. Living near a freeway is the WORST. Soot from cars blow in through the A/C I assume since I keep my windows closed. How do I know? I could Swiffer my floor every hour, and the cloth will always be black. Lint from who knows where blows through my air vent and ends up in my bath tub, thus clogging the drain. And I swear the loads of laundry and dishes to be washed are endless!

I constantly wish for more time during the day, but if I had more time, I’m not even sure if anything would change! Maybe I’d still be just as tired. Or maybe, I am terrible at planning out my day. We shall see what changes I can make this next month.

This Month Currently (January)

I’ve decided to borrow this idea from my “Happy Planner” from Create 365. At the beginning of each month, it asks questions regarding what is currently going on in your life each month. I’m hoping to carry this on throughout the year and reflect on the happenings of each month. Let’s dive in!

 

Reading: Aphasia/Dementia, Dysphagia, and motor speech disorders textbooks.

Planning: For the first week of clinic and subsequent sessions!

Watching: The Office, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Grey’s Anatomy ❤

Cooking: Vinaigrette Pork Sirloin Roast with carrots & potatoes (recipe to be posted soon).

Eating: Too much junk food! Apple turnovers, hamburger curry, Hawaiian food!

Drinking: Lot’s of water & coffee. Raspberry iced tea and plantation tea.

Pinning: Activities & tips for upcoming clients. Of course food 🙂

Crafting: Nothing  :/

Going: To school mostly.

Loving: My cats, animals & the office 🙂

Dreaming: I’ve been having the WEIRDEST dreams lately.

Feeling: Unmotivated. Tired. Stressed. Super hungry!!!!

Listening: Beyonce as always. The Moana Soundtrack to touch my soul.

Celebrating: Family birthdays & the start of school & clinic 🙂

Sounds of Home

I lay in bed with my eyes closed. Today, the wind is still. Our pigeons coo a beautiful song. Roosters are crowing throughout the neighborhood. Birds chirp in trees nearby. Listening closely, you can hear the faint purr of the few cars making their way down the avenue a few blocks away.

At the beaches, the waves crash onto the shore. As the water recedes over the rocks, you can imagine the sound of lightning crackling across the sky. The palm trees blow as the sand dances along the beach.

The sounds are peaceful and serene. So clean and clear as if played from a CD.

Elsewhere, in the city, my eyes are open. Cars rush by continuously at all hours of the day. Sounds of jack hammers, leaf blowers, heavy machinery on the ground can be heard from even the highest buildings. People chatting, dogs barking, children screaming. My air condition muffles the noise. The rain slowly patters on the window and rooftop. A brief moment of calmness. I sigh in the quiet. Home.