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Grumble grumble

I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to blog about this. I’ve been in constant pain since February. It started when I threw out my back. The minute my back got better, my legs began to hurt. A LOT. I’ve tried physiotherapy, massage therapy, heat, cold, exercise, rest, you name it. Nothing helps. I take prescription painkillers a couple of times a day, but the pain cuts through the painkillers.

Just a few months ago I was walking an hour and twenty minutes every morning to go to work. Now I can’t even walk five minutes before I get severe pains in my left leg. The pain rapidly gets worse until I have to sit down. Sitting hurts too, but not as much as walking. As soon as I stand up, my leg is all pins and needles for a minute or two and then the pain comes flooding back. The last few days have been hell.

I went for an MRI of my lower back yesterday, and today my doctor called to say I’ve got a “significantly protruding disk” which is pinching my sciatic nerve. She’s referring me to a back surgeon as a priority case. She also told me to increase my painkiller intake.

You can tell your life is a mess when you’re heartened by the prospect of back surgery. I am so relieved that there might be some hope of fixing this. It’s been beyond depressing to think I might have to spend the rest of my life living with chronic pain and disability.

To be honest, I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. So far in 2009 I’ve lost my job, gotten cancer, and been knocked on my ass by unrelenting pain. I paid into a long-term disability plan for 18 years and got laid off right before I needed it. I feel sorry for GC too, who less than a year ago fell in love with a healthy, active employed woman who now has cancer, no job, and can barely make it to the corner store without help. (He refuses to complain about it, so I’m complaining on his behalf.)

In other news, I had the biopsy of my left breast today. They used a different method this time – vacuum aspiration. They hoovered my breast. Then they put a clip in it. And mammogrammed it. Next Wednesday the tumour(s) will be removed.

My quilt from Victoria's Quilts

My quilt from Victoria's Quilts

In brighter news, check this out. Have you ever heard of Victoria’s Quilts? They’re a non-profit organization made up entirely of volunteers who make quilts for cancer patients so we won’t be cold during chemotherapy treatments. My mom asked them to make one for me, and a nice lady delivered it to me on Sunday. This one was made by “Kay M. of the Barrhaven Group.” Thank you Kay M., and thank you Mom.

24 comments to Grumble grumble

  • Oh Zoom! I have the same leg issue and because I don’t have any significant atrophy in the bad leg (my left) they aren’t ordering an MRI. You know my pain threshold? I just go numb.

    Thank goodness for numbness!

    Sending good thoughts!

  • Deb

    As much as I hate to say this, I am so glad that they found a problem with your back. I felt for you today when you said that you were afraid that you would have to live with this forever. Did the doctor have any idea why the disc is protruding?

  • Am agog by your determination to stay positive, Zoom. Feeling sorry for yourself? Hey, we’re all entitled to that!

  • lissa

    Life is not always fair, I feel very sad for you Zoom. Please keep the faith that life will improve and you will be better soon. Some of these things just come in bunches. As always thanks for the latest update.

  • gc

    hey, Hey, HEY… don’t complain FOR me. I have NOTHING to complain about. You are the BEST! They all know that and they must know I’m the luckiest guy to be able to hang out with you. I love you… gc

  • grace

    GC owes me a box of keenex.

  • Mudmama, aren’t you worried about nerve damage? Are they making that diagnosis on symptoms alone?

    Deb, I’m not sure why it’s protruding. Maybe it was from a sneeze back in April. It was one helluva sneeze. I think I even blogged about it.

    Chrystal, I think I’m just naturally positive, almost to the point of absurdity. For example, when I think about chemo, I think about how much money I’m going to save by not having hair.

    Lissa, cheer up, it’s not ALL bad. Whenever my leg stops hurting for a few moments, the absence of pain feels wonderful. (Thank you for saying life will improve; sometimes I worry it won’t, and need to be reminded.)

    GC – awww, YOU’RE the best!

    Don’t cry Grace. GC’s not real, I made him up! :)

    (Just kidding…but if I was going to make him up, I wouldn’t change a thing.)

  • I feel your pain… literally… I also have a protruded disc that puts pressure on the sciatic nerve and it’s not fun. I ended up in the hospital just before Christmas (where I discovered the wonders of morphine weeeeeeee!) Fortunately I don’t need surgery (yet) and other than a almost constant dull ache and numb toes, it’s pretty much under control.

    That is a lovely quilt. I love the colours!

  • Wow. What a lot you’re having to deal with. Thanks for sharing what’s going on so I can be inspired by your great attitude. I’ve gone a bit Buddhist lately and how you talk about what’s going on seems like a great example of living the teachings I’ve been reading.

  • Nat

    God woman, life’s a pisser right now. And GC comments made me cry.

    (That quilt is lovely.)

  • Nat

    Evidently GC’s comment also made me forget my grammar… apologies.

  • Annie

    Zoom, have you considered acupuncture? My Mum suffered with lower back and sciatic pain for years. The chiro helped but the pain didn’t go away. At my urging she tried acupuncture and – what can I say? – it cured her.
    A friend was immobile for months with back pain and had back surgery. She was OK for awhile, but unfortunately the pain returned about 10 years ago. She paid a few vists to a Chinese doctor in a creepy little upstairs office somewhere in Chinatown and has been fine since. I don’t understand how or why it works, but it seems to.
    If the prospect of going under the knife is as unappealing to you as it is to me, and you’d like to check out acupuncture, I’d be happy to give you the name of the acupuncturist. He specializes in pain management and addictions. He’s very cool – used to be a brain surgeon in China before he moved to Canada.
    And it is a lovely quilt!

  • You know, I was JUST thinking about you today, and what a shit year you’ve had. Any one of these things would be plenty on its own.

  • grace

    GC is TOO real. And so was that sneeze. I remember that sneeze.

    God woman it’s been a year.

  • Melinda

    I’m thinking you’ve got every right to grumble. I don’t know which gods you angered, but it seems like you’ve done it pretty thoroughly. Experience tells me though that it’s always darkest before the dawn and that life will get better for you. Maybe not this year, but next definitely. Just look forward to getting it all behind you.

    You’re in my thoughts.

  • XUP

    What everybody else said about GC’s comment. I’m soooo happy that you guys are joined at the hip. It’s so obviously karma that the two of you found each other just when you needed each other the most. I know you’re thinking he’s getting a raw deal because you’ve been felled by a bunch of crap all at once, but the fact that he doesn’t feel that at all must tell you that there is something very special about you that he needs, whatever your physical or financial condition. These things don’t alter the essential you and that’s what he (and everyone else) loves. And, by god, you are perfectly entitled to feel sorry for yourself. Go ahead and give a good, loud Lucy Ricardo “WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH”

  • Oma

    XUP has said it all …

  • Valerie, do you have it all the time? I used to get sciatica occasionally, but it would just be uncomfortable and annoying, and it would go away by itself after a couple of weeks. This time is different – it’s painful and it keeps getting worse. And it’s lasted for months already.

    Jamine, thank you. (I thought I was being very un-Buddhist-like by complaining and feeling sorry for myself.)

    Nat, I know, sometimes he makes me cry too. He should carry kleenex at all times.

    Annie, funny you should mention that. I’ve been thinking about acupuncture. A friend is trying to convince me to go see some guy who does acupuncture for rooms full of people at a time for cash while dispensing odd bits of chinese folk wisdom. I’m tempted just because it sounds so bloggable. (But yeah, I’d like the name of your guy too…I have a feeling surgery is still months away, and I need some help with pain management in the meantime.)

    Kate, I know! But I think I’ve reached the trauma saturation point now. The universe can throw anything it wants at me now, and it won’t really make much difference (well, almost anything.I shouldn’t tempt the fates that way).

    Grace, it was the sneeze that changed the world.

    Melinda, that’s exactly how I’m feeling today. Optimistic, and much less grumbly than yesterday.

    XUP, you made GC cry!

  • gc

    Too much crying here… we want more pictures of Duncan!

  • Zoom,
    I have it all the time now, but I didn’t before it got really bad in December. It would flair up then go away after a day or so of rest. In December it got really bad… Doctor thinks it could have been set off by a bad sneeze (how sad is that), and my job (which is all sitting) compiled with a day of moving furniture, constantly carrying around my fat (25 lb) cat Tux… and even my chiropractor treatments (chiropractor was treating another problem with my sacroiliac, and misdiagnosed the leg pain as it as the IT band) made it really bad. It took about a month, but it got so bad, I couldn’t walk more than a few steps, every time I stood (or even tried to sit) my leg went painful pins and needles. It was sore in my Achilles heel, calf, thigh, hip and back. It was so bad I barely slept for the three days before I finally decided to go to the hospital (which I did because I was out of pain killers and couldn’t get in to see the doctor for a week)
    The hospital gave me morphine and sent me home. The morphine allowed me to stretch out and relax, taking some pressure off. The doctor sent me for an MRI, which discovered the protruded disc, as well as degenerative disc disorder.
    Now it’s mostly just a dull annoying ache, though I’ve noticed it starting to get a little worse lately.

  • Valerie, the similarities are kind of freaky. The sneeze, sitting all day, the fat cat…I was also misdiagnosed (by my massage therapist, not a chiro) as having IT Band Syndrome. The pain walking, the pins and needles, the progression, the MRI, the degenerative disc disorder, the protruding disc…pretty much everything. You give me hope that someday it might settle into a perpetual dull ache. (Do you still take painkillers?)

  • FWIW, I suggest you look into “McKenzie” exercises. These are more relaxations / spinal stretches rather than exercises. There a couple of local physiotherapists who are familiar with them, or you can look up “Robin McKenzie” books in the lib. I’ve used them for some back/leg pain and foot drop, and it went away for me.


  • I do take pain killers (tylenol 3) but only about once a week now. Usually on Friday or Saturday night.. after the culmination of sitting and abusing it all week.

    Its been a little worse lately, but that’s because I picked up a second job – a receptionist position that is adding six to 14 hours of extra sitting each week.

  • TechWood

    Wow! I can’t say, you’re dealing with all these events much better than I could ever dream of. I can’t keep my basic life organized as it is, and I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if any real health issues came up for me. I freak out about dental issues.

    I’ve had very mild sciatica spells and did various exercises laying down that alleviated pain temporarily. But walking or standing was still an issue. I haven’t had it in over a year or so, but in my case I didn’t have underlying issues for it – e.g herniated disc, etc.

    You really are an inspiration to us all :-)
    Best wishes and hugz – we’ll talk soon!