For many, this will not be news, but I have lived with pain in my lower back now since 1999. 11 YEARS of almost constant pain! Cleaning my house would flare up my back and make me sore. Playing agility, either teaching or a class with my own dogs, would leave me in pain. Long walks or standing for long periods would leave me in pain. And those were bad days. In between were days where I might not even notice that dull ache in my back that never quite went away. But if I were to bend the wrong way, or lay down and relax my back, sharp, severe pain, until the muscles relaxed completely.
Well that is NOTHING compared to what I went through last week and still am to a point. Last Saturday, the 14th, Kris and I took Shadow on a hike to Cape Lookout. 2.4 miles out and back, so about 5 miles round trip. No biggie, I’ve done walks with the dogs that were 3 or 4 miles. Heck I’d been running 2.5 miles for a couple weeks, so I thought nothing of it. The terrain was rough, roots here and there, lots of mud spots to be stepped around or hopped over. It was an overcast day and I carried a small backpack out and Kris carried it back.
On Sunday I got up to work on the pics from the hike and by the time I was done I thought I was going to die from the pain in my back. I took some pain killers and muscle relaxers and laid on the couch for the rest of the day. I watched movies, finished a book and took a nap. On Monday, my back was no better. I couldn’t even sit without immediate pain in the back. Over just a few minutes the pain would become so intense I would have to get up and lay down. I made it two hours at work on Monday and driving was torture. Got home, more drugs, more couch time.
Tuesday, I made it 6 hours but I stood up a lot. I even laid down in the office on the floor for relief. Went home, more drugs, more couch time.
Wednesday I made it 4 hours. More drugs, more couch time, more movies. I would get up from sitting and would take a good 10 minutes before I could walk upright without severe muscle spasms. Even better was I had to take Kris to the airport that night for a work trip. He drove up and I drove home. I took drugs on the way up and managed to make it home ok.
Thursday was chiropractor day. I’d decided on Wed that 3 days was too long and needed to try something. So chiro first thing, made it at work 2 hours. That is the most work I have missed ever because of my stupid back.
Friday morning chiro again first thing. By the time I got to the doc’s office, I could barely not cry. My back was now the worst it had ever been. I had several muscle spasms on the way, I had pain radiating in my butt and across my left thigh. I could feel pain in my ankle for no reason. I laid down at the chiro’s and couldn’t stop crying. I bawled like a baby when he came out to help me up. He suggested that if it wasn’t better by Monday I should go to the ER. Monday? Three days from then? No way in hell was that going to be a solution.
I got home, more drugs and a nap. Barely slept and woke up in the same amount of pain, no relief that time. Maybe the chiro was a bad idea, who knows. But I called my doc and luckily got an apt for an hour later. I debated on driving in or calling an ambulance because I wasn’t sure I could handle driving. Not from drugs, but from pain. Pain shooting into my back have made me cry out several times over the week. One really severe one I will never forget on the way to the docs. I probably should have gone straight to the ER via ambulance.
Once I got to the docs, I couldn’t sit at the office. I had to lay down on the couch. Couldn’t sit in the little exam room because that was too much pain. So I leaned my head against the wall and held onto the back of a chair. She couldn’t do anything for me. She felt an MRI was a good idea but to schedule would take till next week. So off to the ER I went.
They had someone from ER come up and get me, rolled me over in a wheelchair. I was hoping it would be a gurney but no luck, but at least the wheel chair was faster than me walking. I got checked in, waited a few minutes, then got a room, got into my gown and then blissfully into a bed, flat. Got an IV for Dilaudid but the pain never fully went away. The drugs dulled it, but didn’t make it disappear. Now remember, I had already taken a Tramadol and a Vicodin that morning and now Dilaudid, a morphine type drug AND THE PAIN NEVER WENT AWAY! That is some serious pain.
So I got the MRI, got the results, now this was my third MRI in the last 11 years. My once centrally herniated disc was now paracentrally herniated and pressing on my nerves. Great. So some more Dilaudid, sent home with a script for steroids, Percocet and a stronger muscle relaxer with a note to follow up with the neurosurgeon who read my MRI. Now remember Kris was out of town, so I debated about who to call to come get me. Scot was working till 7:30 and it was 4pm. Amy was also out of town with Debby and Justin diving. My friend Tracy almost got the call, but based on the timing of the MRI and results, I figured it’d be close to 7:30 when I got out, so I called Scot. Just barely crying, asking him if he could pick me up at the hospital when he got off work. Imagine getting that call eh?
I had texted Kris what was going on and he said for $300 he could fly home that night. I told him it wasn’t worth it. I’d get home, go to bed with drugs and be out. I wasn’t sure at that point how Sat would go and if he’d have to get a shuttle home from the airport or not.
Saturday I woke up ok. Not great, but not as bad as Friday. I started the steroids at breakfast and went back to sleep with more drugs. By noon, was feeling up to the task of getting Kris. I drove up and he drove home with me reclining in the passenger seat.
Since then I have gotten a little better each day but one thing that does not go away is the pain while sitting. I still get random shots of pain in my legs but not as bad as they were. I spent most of Sunday laying on the couch, though I did have to go to work to update some stuff for today because I didn’t go to work at all on Friday. Even that 30 minutes was torture on my back. Again, I have been taking either Tramadol or Vicodin or Percocet depending on the severity of the pain and/or the time of day. If I was to be awake and/or driving, I took Tramadol, it doesn’t seem to make me sleepy like the others do. Nor fuzzy in the head. So strong pain killers 24 hours a day for now 7 days. Ugh.
Monday loomed and I was concerned about it and sitting at work. I took a mat in to the office and spent two 20 minute periods lying on the floor. That actually helps quite a bit. I also spent some time standing while on the phone. I tried kneeling at one point but the desk is too high. By the end of the day I couldn’t sit still and then I lost my connection to IU around 3:30pm because of severe storms in Bloomington. I called it quits at a quarter to four and came home. Another chiro apt this evening and then home again.
Now that I have finished this long post and took a break in the middle to walk the dogs, it’s time to lay down again. Oh but before I close out, the soonest I can follow up with the neuro doc is June 14th. Yes that’s right, 4 weeks from now. In the ER for severe pain and I can’t get in for follow up care for 4 weeks? Can you even begin to imagine what my next 4 weeks of life is going to be like? I’ve already missed two agility classes and can’t walk my dogs for more than 10 minutes at a time…. I dread my sanity. Time to start the L-Theanine that Kat sent me.
So I have moments during the day where I think, that would make a good blog post, but then forget about it later on. Or I’ll see something like a guy collar correcting his german shepherd dog which is on a prong collar and think, man I should rant about that. But then I finish my run and forget about it, so when I do get to the whole blog thing, it’s not as big a deal to me.
I admire those folks that either have instant access or remember to go and post about such things. On Tuesday I was running laps at Minto Brown Island Park with the dogs. I saw a woman with her dog on leash (in an off leash dog area) collar correct her pit bull type dog, which was wearing a prong collar. Her dog did nothing wrong because it was the rude young dog that ran into it’s face that was in the wrong. The leashed dog told off the young in-your-face dog and the owner corrected it. <sigh> Then not two seconds later (imagine this in a DOG PARK) another dog ran up to the leashed dog and the leashed dog simply froze. The leashed dog even turned his head to the side a bit. The owner, thankfully didn’t correct the dog but didn’t praise the dog either. I happened to be running by and told her she should praise her dog, he did good. I did see her pat her dog before my running took me too far away. <sigh> So sad to see so much “wrong” in the world regarding dogs.
I’ve had quite a few bad weeks lately. Sad, depressed, over-whelmed, home sick. 🙁 Last week was especially bad. Just wanted to go “home” to Indiana. To all that is familiar…. but I can’t. This is my home now. So I’m trying to “get over it” and “get on with it” but it’s not easy. I find myself occasionally thinking things like, let’s get a better RV and maybe it will be better. But I honestly do not want to live in the RV anymore. I don’t want a huge house or anything but I do want a house. One without many stairs, on a bit of land for a back yard. I want to rent for a while and try to decide or find the right place to buy. I want to take my time doing that because once I move into a house we buy again, I’M NOT MOVING FOR AT LEAST 10 YEARS! lol… Kris and I moved 3 times in our 10 short years together. And that’s not even just moving houses, that’s BUYING 3 houses! You can’t make any headway on a house in 5 years or less.
And it’s time to start feeding Mickey again. Who’s Mickey? He’s my 16 year old ball python. I got him my sophomore year of college and he’s traveled from NY to MA to MT to FL to IN and now to OR. He lives in a tank on the front dash of our RV. And of course the only pet store in all of Salem that sells rats is Petco, which is on the FAR side of Salem, completely opposite where we live. Very much like in B-ton where the Petco was on the East side and I lived on the West side. <sigh> How annoying.
So I’ve been running for 9 weeks now (took a week off for vacay in Mexico). Week 8 run 2 today. I’m running just over 2.5 miles in 28 minutes. My sister Steph told me about this cool website where it lets you map your run with google maps. It’s called mapmyrun.com. It’s pretty cool and I’ve mapped my last 6 runs now? Anyway that’s how I know my distances in the 28 minutes I’m up to. Next week is week 9 and it’s a full 30 minutes of running. I don’t think my back likes it when I run though. It’s fine during the exercise but afterwards, it gets pretty sore. I’ve taken to icing it and my knees, which also hurt. 🙁
On Tuesday, when I was running laps at the dog park, Shadow ran along with me the whole way! I ran for 28 minutes straight and that little pooch ran the whole time with me. 🙂 I tried to lose them and take off down the trail where dogs must be leashed, but her and Tasha spied me taking off and caught up to me. So I turned around and took them back to Kris, but they turned around with me and stayed with me. Such a trooper that little Shadow. She was VERY tired that night. Luckily it didn’t break her and she seemed to be moving ok the next day.
Kota is doing ok these days. I think he may be losing muscle tone in his other leg now. Not sure if that is from less exercise or if there is a spreading problem… 🙁 He limps a bit more and has a harder time getting up and down from lying down. I wish he was healthy but at least he still has fire and attitude.
I’m trying to stay busy doing stuff. Running, taking the dogs for 2 to 4 mile walks. On Saturday Kris and I are going to go to Cape Lookout which is a 4.8 mile walk out and then back. We’re going with a local Meetup group that is doing this, to watch the sunset. Not sure if we’ll take a dog with us or not. Might just make it a binoculars and camera hike.
So aside from working in my new office space, which is still great! I’m just staying busy taking care of the dogs, the RV, the laundry and occasionally making dinner for Kris and I on the evenings he comes home early.
So two things I’ve learned about Oregon.
First, if you take narcotics for pain like I do (chronic low back pain) you are treated as if you are an abuser of drugs. In order to refill a script, you have to submit to urine testing. Um, if I’m taking the drug, won’t I test positive for it? Ya think? But apparently someone like me that gets a “30 day” supply and refills MAYBE every 6 months, that perhaps I’m not an abuser and I actually *need* the drugs? Nope, doesn’t matter, the doc said anyone in Salem, OR that takes narcotics has to submit to random drug screening…. um, well shit ok. This would be less of a hassle if the doc (any doc) was in network out here and my doctor’s visits didn’t cost me out of network benefits! So you know what this means right? I will just double and triple up on advil or alleve if I am in bad shape. Doesn’t matter if one pill of a narcotic would suffice, nope, multiples of OTC will have to do.
Second, you can’t get Sudafed from the pharmacy without a prescription. WTF? I have to go to the doctors office, AGAIN, just to get a script for what used to be an over the counter drug that helps with my allergies in the spring? You mean that if I get a cold and want sinus decongestion I have to go the fucking doctor’s first?!! Seriously? And before someone says oh well try the non-pseudoephedrine stuff, well I have and it doesn’t work nearly as well as the real stuff! That’s why there’s a couple boxes of that crap in my medicine cabinet and I’m all out of the real Sudafed. *sobs*
So if anyone from a non-Oregon state decides to send me a care package, could you please include some Sudafed? Preferably the 12 hour so that I can sleep all night long without waking up feeling like I can’t breathe because my nasal passages have closed over with mucuos. Thankyouverymuch.
So I started this Couch to 5K program 5 weeks ago. I’ve been running 3 times a week going on my 4th week (took the vacation week off while in Mexico). On Monday I ran in the little gym they have here at the RV park. The treadmill there is actually quite a nice treadmill. I can plug my iphone into the speaker and play my music through a decent output, the buttons are nice and big, easy to use when running or walking and it has a built in fan.
The view is also pretty nice. 😀 I ran/walked almost 2 miles in 29 minutes. Not too bad for week 4 of running. Now, you’d think I was in better shape because of agility, but honestly, when training, I don’t do a whole lot of running myself unfortunately and since I am only doing class once a week, I run maybe 3 minutes, tops during class. So I need the extra exercise. If it’s nice outside I run outside either around the RV park, at Scot and Amy’s subdivision or at Minto Brown park. Today looked like rain and it hailed twice today, so I decided to be safe and not get hailed on.
I also added music to my iphone last night. I know, I know, I’ve had the thing for 3 years now? and am just getting music on it? Well, ya know, I don’t buy songs and I finally got around to copying from my CDs, which have been in the RV for two years. 😀 Yay!
I felt really good after my run today. I like that feeling.