Sunday, June 5, 2016

Diagnosis, Hope and a Little Rant

Well it's been a week now since I first spoke about my back pain.  Well, it isn't really back pain, it's sort of leg and calf pain...intense pain..with numbness in my lower left leg and foot.  Of course, these are classic signs of sciatica, a condition where something, somewhere in your body is pressing on your sciatic nerve, which runs from the base of your spine all the way down to your foot.  The idea is to find the source of the 'pressing' in order to heal, and yesterday, after almost two full weeks of suffering, I finally found the source.  Now if it would only get better...

I can truthfully say without question that this is the worst pain I've ever felt in my life, and I don't feel like it's ever going to go away, though those around me say it will.  It can't come soon enough! Worry wart as I am, I spent the past week doing as much time worrying as I did dealing with the pain.  I had no idea what was causing this and I was thinking everything from herniated disks to a tumor on my spine. I'd gone to the doctor over a week ago and he gave me steroids, which was supposed to lesson the inflammation of the nerve and give me relief.  It didn't.

I tried going into work on Tuesday, which ended up being a bad idea.  I do a lot of walking at work and thus the pain I dealt with that day was unbearable to say the least.  I decided once that day was done that I can't worry about school right now.  In fact I can't really focus on anything else until this goes away.  I have to rest and take it easy or else this will not go away.

I returned to the doctor for a follow up appointment on Wednesday and to see where to go from there. I was given naproxin and painkillers and sent on my way to physical therapy.  At that moment I was a little more hopeful.  In the meantime, that post last week set off a series of concerned emails and messages from a lot of my friends, who had no idea this was going on. I was given numbers of chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, you name it.  One of the messages was from a childhood friend of mine, Anne Marie, who is a chiropractor upstate, and she referred me to someone local who she went to school with.  Worth a shot!

I seriously thought about putting this post on my first blog, Rants, because that's just what I want to do after meeting with this chiropractor on Thursday.  First of all, personally, this guy was super nice and he showed me right away that he was concerned and aimed to get to the root of the problem so he could help me fix it...something neither doctor I saw even tried to do.  He asked me lots of questions in order to help understand what had happened to me and he ordered me to go for x-rays to see if they would tell the story.  What a concept!

This is an x-ray of my hip.  The good doctor reviewed this with me on Saturday, and he asked me what I saw.  Now looking at this picture, I am photographed from the front, so what is on the left is my right hip and visa versa. Almost immediately I said that the left hip looks bigger.  Bingo! 

Actually, the left hip is not bigger, it just looks that way because it is out of alignment.  Whereas it should be curved slightly inward, the natural position for the hip bone, it is sort of pressed out. Hence the pressure on the sciatic nerve.

With the treatment the chiropractor gave me, along with this revelation, I felt hopeful for the first time in a week and I even felt a little better. My hip came to be this way from bad habits I've followed pretty much my whole life. These habits just finally caught up to me after all these years.   It's the way I sit when I sit and the way I sleep when I'm in bed.  It wasn't really surprising to me.  I've had issues of stiffness and slight pain when getting up either from bed in the morning or even getting up out of a chair.  I now know that I need to learn to undo those habits which is easier for sitting down than for sleeping.

My Bad Habits

Ever since I can remember, I've always crossed my legs when I sit.  Sometimes I cross them like you can see in the photo above.  Other times I actually put my one leg completely under the other.  Not good, especially after doing so for the better part of fifty years.  If I want this to get better and never come back, I've got to change this habit.

The other bad habit that I already knew was bad was the way I sleep.  I am a face down sleeper by nature, and normally when I am sleeping, my left leg folds out just like you see in the picture.  Really really bad!  Over the past few years, I've especially noticed that this was a problem.  Pain in my back and hips have become increasingly worse, and obviously it brought me to this point.  

This habit is not so easy to break.  I've actually tried breaking it for some time now, trying to sleep on my back with a pillow under my legs or sleeping on my side with pillow between the legs, but I always find myself in this position.  Ugh!  I guess the best I can do is be keenly aware of it and try to catch myself doing it when I do it and correct it immediately.  But how can anyone change a habit you have while sleeping?  

The Rant

So now that I know what the problem is, I guess that working on breaking these habits, stretching regularly and resting more will eventually help my issue and make it go away for good.  I can't help but be a little put off by the doctors I saw, though, because neither of them went to any of the lengths that the chiropractor went through to correct the problem.

Perhaps it is our collective societal consciousness that has given the end all, be all moniker to modern western doctors, but should that be so?  There are many out there who demean other types of medical treatment such as chiropractic medicine, acupuncture and other types of alternative treatments, yet from what I experienced from just this one issue was that the chiropractor was really the only one who actually treated me for my specific problem.

During both doctor visits, my temperature and blood pressure was taken, but that was the extent of any physical examination.  Neither doctor physically examined my back or my legs and buttocks, where I told them the pain was emanating from.  Within moments of even seeing me, they were both quick to write me scripts, without even probing for clues or even looking at me.  Yet, most of us are satisfied with this.  

So far all the drugs have done for me has been to numb the pain for awhile, nothing else.  I am convinced at this very moment that I will get better now, but only because of my visits to this chiropractor, not either doctor.  Now don't get me wrong, doctors are a vital sector of society and they do plenty for the ill.  I've been helped by them on many an occasion, and I am sure I will need their services again, but it bothers me to see that this kind of stuff happens.  Are doctors too overworked and underpaid these days?  Are their practices a little too influenced by drug companies?  Have we as a society come to think of taking pills for everything that ails us, and have the doctors subscribed to that way of thinking?  Oh, I could go on and on. Perhaps one day on Rants.    

Anyway, tomorrow will be 14 days since I first experienced this intense pain, and it still feels like it isn't going to go away.  Hopefully, with some more rest (I am going stir crazy!), stretching and visits to the chiropractor, by the next time I post a blog, that will change.  In the meantime, for all of you out there who suffer from chronic pain, I truly feel for you and I hope that your suffering will come to a close soon enough.  Peace!     

1 comment:

  1. First let me say that I am so sorry you are suffering so. I am late to the party with my well-wishing but it is sincere just the same. You've hit the nail on the head. Many of today's doctor's want to write you a script because that's where the money is for them & the drug companies. It keeps you coming back. If they cure you, you don't need their services anymore. I love my chiropractor and will seek his advice on everything before seeing any other doctor from now. Wishing you a speedy recovery, John.