Coping With Major Pain

Yesterday was among the hardest days I've ever I had.   We flew from Chicago to San Diego.  I was in serious pain for a good part of the day.   The first two hours I was awake this morning were notable.   I felt no pain, whatsoever.   That is such a rarity these days, though not all days are bad.

Thursday I found out that my right leg problems of the past four months were a result of a herniated disc at L5-S1 and bulging discs above it.    For four months I  dealt with my "right leg problem" including an MRI for my lower right leg and physical therapy for my "right calf strain".  I indicated a number of times to my primary care physician and my physical therapist that my symptoms indicated that my primary problem was not a leg strain.  I was told to be patient.

Finally, after reporting increasing pain, my doctor emailed me that I should go for "immediate care" rather than waiting for my appointment with her which was then three weeks away.  On my way to the medical facility, I called up Charlie in  Seattle.  Charlie was a bridge partner of mine.  He is an 84 year old retired internist.   After two minutes of listening to me, Charlie said that I probably had a lumbar herniated disc, with pressure on nerves, radiating into my right leg.   The physician's assistant I then saw confirmed the likely diagnosis.

Now I have a lot of pain in my right leg which varies in intensity from none to extreme pain.  Perhaps indirectly related I have often extreme pain on the back of my neck. Yesterday on the plane multiple times I couldn't bend my head to see the overhead light switch.  When I forget and turn my head without slowing down dramatically, I get a stabbing pain.  Secondarily, annoying, but not usually particularly painful, my rear end hurts from my constipation.

I'm not used to severe, recurring pain!   Until recently, I exercised strenuously 6-7 days a week without difficulty.  I prided myself on being healthy.   Then I suddenly was very short-of-breath  after a severe cold weakened me.  It didn't improve.  It was exhausting to go up the few steps to our house.   My workouts were at perhaps 20% of normal's intensity.

I was shocked to find out I had a heart condition and needed stents to clear one almost totally blocked artery.  Thankfully the stents got me to at least 95% of "normal".   Now, my other ailments make simply getting by my only significant priority (as well as trying to get well).

I appreciate small things much more now.   I take things slowly, minute-by-minute.   I listen much more carefully to my body.   I look forward to a day when I can move around pain-free.  Meanwhile a week from tomorrow I see the spine surgeon and later chiropractor as well as having physical therapy for my constipation problem.

Thank you!


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