Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting Older

Well, it seems that my days of hoisting 100 lb. sacks of potatoes onto my shoulder and throwing around railroad ties in the barn, are over.

Back in early December, I was struck with debilitating back pain. Investigation of its cause and my options for treatment is an interesting, if not frustrating, process. To my great fortune, I found a wonderful chiropractor in addition to my regular M.D., and have been working regularly with them both.

In late January, an MRI was taken of my back; it shows five herniated disks which are pressing on the nerve roots where they exit the spinal cord, extensive arthritis in the joints, and compression of the spine. My doctor said that it is a combination of genetics and wear & tear, and suggested I work with my chiropractor to find some relief as he does not want me on pain medication forever. Um, neither do I. I told him that in some ways I consider this battered spine to be a badge of honor... that I have no desire to present a perfect corpse at my funeral, but would rather have a body that is used up, worn out, and a testament to the fact that this was one hell of a ride!

But... I do have a lot of work to do before I'm ready to give up the ghost, and need to make this body last. Sitting around all winter has not been good for either the state of my home nor that of my mind. My chiropractor is getting a bit frustrated, I think, with the fact that it seems to be two steps forward and three steps back... he suggested that maybe I should consult with a neurologist (knowing, of course, that I will keep going back to him as he does provide great relief from the pain; it just doesn't seem to last). So next week I will be looking into that, as well as trying some new ideas. One will be to schedule a massage to help with the arthritis, and also look into acupuncture. I've been investigating inversion tables, those contraptions with which you hang upside down to provide traction and stretch out the spine, as well as different exercises and nutritional supplements.

My thought is, use it or lose it. It would be so easy to give up and quit moving through the pain and adopt the mindset that I would always be crippled up.... but that is just not acceptable to me. My nephew Joe broke his back in a motorcycle accident about ten years ago, and was told he would never walk again. I will not relay his exact words to that doctor, but will say the kid is pure grit. He not only walked across the stage for his high school graduation, but is now a foreman for a pipline crew in Colorado and was recently married in an elegant ceremony on a cruise ship.

Its all about sucking it up and pushing through... about deciding whether to lay down and quit or stand up and fight. Its about deciding every morning when I wake up, who I am and what I want out of life and how hard I am willing to work for it. Frankly, I'm getting tired of missing out and sitting at home.

Time to suck it up and fight.

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