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...And then life throws you a curve ball

...I don't even know where to begin. I guess... a month ago? I started to experience incredible pain while sitting. In my neck, in my back, in my left shoulder. Some of this is arthritis, some is muscle strain from arthritis. I've been experiencing arthritis twinges in the knees, back, and neck for a few years now. But I've never had any trouble sitting for long periods of time. Then the pain got exponentially worse at some point in November, I am not even sure when, to the point where I can't sit and write anymore, at least not comfortably, and I have to do pain drugs from my orthopedic doctor to get through my work day. I can't sit on my recliner (at all), or on my couch/at the dinner table without major neck and back support (or any chair, really). I have an inexpensive ergonomic chair at work that I can sit in most of the day, if I get up frequently and walk and stretch out.

That's the crazy thing. It's more comfortable now to walk than sit. I take walks when I'm in too much pain. At home, I have been reduced to lying down in my bed to do most sedentary things (and you can't lie flat--I mean, everything flat, including your head and neck--and do most sedentary things, it turns out). Over Thanksgiving weekend, I lay down so much, I got a bed rash.

Now, you might say, "Well, all that sitting isn't healthy anyway." But that's kind of like saying the barn door shouldn't be left open after the horse is long gone. I am writer, and a computer programmer. I have been sedentary for a long, long time. All I can do now is try to fight against the tide.

I'm trying to figure out what changed between October and now to effect me so radically (besides crappy genes on both sides finally coming to a head against years in sedentary pursuits). And there's only one thing I can think of. In late October, I went to my orthopedic doctor about my neck arthritis, because it was becoming something of an issue at work. He sent me to a physical therapist, who worked on my neck and shoulders. It was after those sessions were completed I started to have the constant, piercing pain, even when everything was well-supported, and repeated muscle pulls and muscle tenderness.

I made a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor and he took me off PT and had me schedule two MRIs, one on my back and one on my neck. I literally broke into tears from the pain in his office. I was (still am) very fearful I won't be able to do my job anymore. I remember the day--it was my birthday, last month--when the words "going on disability" popped into my head for the first time as a possible scenario.

Now, I am hoping that won't happen. I am working on all sorts of interventions. A new, orthopedic recliner (zero-grav) for home, a new gym exercise/muscle strengthening program with a personal trainer, and then, whatever interventions my orthopedic doctor recommends after he sees my MRI results (I had those done Tuesday evening).

Pain is a strange thing. I always considered myself pretty stoic, but the pain I've been experiencing lately--inescapable, debilitating to normal, everyday activities--has turned me into a harpy. You just discover this wounded animal side to your personality.

Comments

mamculuna
Dec. 13th, 2014 02:36 am (UTC)
I've had horrible back and neck pain from sitting, and know exactly what you mean about standing being better. What you're experiencing sounds really, really horrible.

I've had excruciating back pain recently and finally tried Active Release Technique--I suspect you could find some near you. My husband and I have both found that it really made a huge difference, especially if we kept up with the stretches and exercises he gave us.

I teach online and I've recently completely abandoned the desktop for lying down and using a laptop--about half the time with heat on the hurty places.

Everybody's different, so I really hope you can find something that works. Pain really does make me into a different person.

Edited at 2014-12-13 02:38 am (UTC)
masqthephlsphr
Dec. 15th, 2014 04:04 am (UTC)
Right now, I can't lie down and use a laptop, because your head has to be propped to some degree, and that hurts too much. However, I will look into the therapy you mentioned.
mamculuna
Dec. 15th, 2014 04:31 am (UTC)
I know that head thing from another event a while back. That's miserable. Hope ART works for you.
masqthephlsphr
Dec. 15th, 2014 05:38 am (UTC)
Did ART help you with that?
mamculuna
Dec. 15th, 2014 05:47 am (UTC)
I didn't know about ART (it may not have existed) back then, but I suspect it would have, based on how it worked with my back. However, what did really help was ice, 20 minutes at a time on the part of my neck where the affected nerve came out of the spinal column.

I hope everyone who practices ART is as good as the one I work with. My guy does a lot of big-time athletes in this part of the world, and I knew someone whom he'd really helped.

One thing I've found with PT is that, like everything else in medicine, you have to really monitor yourself and what they're asking you to do. Of course you don't know until after you've done it that something will hurt, but once I know, I just refuse to do it again. My PT Is very good about letting me make the calls.

I should say that over the years I've lost my trust in MDs when it comes to the spine-muscle-nerve set up. I head straight to PT and chiropractors and acupuncture now. MDs have helped me with many things, but somehow don't seem to get that stuff. I certainly go to orthopedists for broken bones, but not for painful neck and back. cornerofmadness will doubtless cringe if she sees this--apologies!

Edited at 2014-12-15 05:48 am (UTC)
masqthephlsphr
Dec. 15th, 2014 04:16 pm (UTC)
I have been using icepacks. I was using heat, as that soothes my arthritis, but I suspect the pulled muscles might be more in the 'injury' category. The icepacks took some of the pain away. The only difficulty was keeping the in the right spot- my sorest point right now is my left shoulder blade. Hard to reach.

My orthopedic doctor is a surgeon, so ultimately, his expertise is going to color his advice, I suspect. I already have plans to visit an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, and a pain clinic close to work to see what works best for me.