Coping With Major Pain
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.