Warning: this post contains whining and moaning. And a good dose of self-flagellation.
So I’ve had problems, off and on, for years with my back and neck.
(Some of) the women on my mother’s side of the family have the “Maule swayback” — an outward curvature (or “lordosis”) of the lower back, making the booty appear even larger than it already is (yay, heredity!). My MD has also diagnosed me with a super-tight ligament thingie in the lower right pelvic/hip area. The upshot of the lower back problems is that I find it extremely painful to stand for any length of time.
I apparently have a slight curvature (scoliosis) of the middle spine, and the muscles on the right side of my spine are really tight. The tightness has been increasing in recent years and it’s now difficult for the chiropractor to even adjust those vertebra.
Finally, a recent MRI confirmed that I have a lack of natural curve in the neck (called “military neck”) as well as 2 degenerative and bulging disks. This is the biggest source of concern, as the pinched nerves keep me awake at night and can result in permanent damage.
Oh – and I have some pretty severe osteoarthritis in both knees. It seems to be spreading to a few other joints as well, like my left thumb and right big toe. For this, I think I have mostly my Dad’s side of the family to thank. Also for the chin hairs, yeah, thanks for that.
My neck has bothered me to a lesser degree off and on for years. Typically, I’d get some numbness and tingling down my left arm. A few weeks of manual adjustments and traction, and I’d be good for a couple more years. No big deal, right? Hah – I’m such an idiot.
Starting this spring, my arms would get numb when I rode my bike just 10-15 minutes. “Not cool, but hey, I don’t NEED to ride my bike. I’ll just stay off it until I feel better.”
During the summer, I started to notice that my range of motion in my neck was decreased. And, I’d occasionally feel tingling in my left arm just sitting up at my desk, or when driving. I’d just change position and try to “shake it off.”
By this time we’d already made the decision to change our lifestyle and travel the country in the RV. I focused on the future concept of copious free time to walk, stretch, do yoga, and get back in shape. I can wait just a little longer before taking care of myself, right? (You’re nodding your head along with me, right? Was that an eyeroll I just detected?)
Sometime in late September, I discovered I could no longer sleep on either side without my arms going numb and tingling, even getting a burning sensation that took a long time to dissipate. This was a major issue for me, and I finally took the step of seeing a specialist.
The upshot of all this is: I should have gone to a chiropractor much earlier, when I first noticed the pain. But I did what so many of us do — I was so “busy” with work, managing a household, and volunteering that I neglected many aspects of my health.
So 6 out of every 7 days I go lay on this decompression contraption for 20 minutes, combined with manual manipulation, laser therapy and electric stimuli on my neck and hands to rebuild the nerves. Do you have any IDEA how difficult it is for me to lay still with nothing but a radio and my own thoughts for company?!? I also now have a few stretches to do at home, and I ice my neck as often as possible throughout the day to reduce inflammation.
Completing this (expensive) course of therapy is part of the reason why we are still here in Michigan. There is no guarantee, but I am seeing some minor signs of progress and really hope to see at least 50% improvement by the time I complete treatment in mid-December. Going forward, I may require regular chiropractic visits, which will very likely influence our future destinations and length of stay. Good thing we plan to stay near major cities for the foreseeable future, eh?
But mostly, I keep kicking myself for not getting help sooner, and for letting my systems get so far out of whack. It’s OKAY to take care of yourself. More than that, it’s NECESSARY to take care of yourself. Who else is going to do it?
I am predisposed to these issues based on heredity and physiology, but I have no doubt that my lack of exercise, reduced muscle, “hunching” over computer and cell phones, and weight gain exacerbated the spinal problems.
Please keep your fingers crossed that this therapy produces results.
In the meantime, it’s time to go ice.
Featured Image courtesy of KnowHowMD.com.