Tag Archives: pain

Come dance with me.

7301_100437136820483_587807534_nIt’s always there to some degree, mocking my every move.  A jig, a waltz, maybe Chubby Checker’s famous twist, or a seductive embrace as we move across the floor — my dancing partner, my pain.  Maybe it’s sharp, a get your attention pain; a boxer’s jab; possibly an unrelenting tooth acne; or a sustained, never-ending pain.  

Pain can be physical, psychological, or both, and when latched onto an individual, becomes unique.  Physical pain can be tested and more easily diagnosed than the illusive psychological pain that sometimes plays hide-and-seek with the mental health specialist.  Treatments for back pain are many — injections, physical therapy, spinal adjustments, medication, meditation, acupuncture, and when all fail, the surgeon sharpens his scalpel.

Two weeks ago I had a bone fusion performed in my lower back.  A herniated disk and the movement of two vertebra called for a bone fusion to eliminate the pain.  A back brace for support and oxycodone for pain are being used during the healing process.  I have become friends with oxycodone and refer to her affectionately as “oxy.”  When in my medicated buzz, I sometimes call her “foxy.”

As a survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse, I have experienced psychological pain as well.  Memories of the abuse left me wrapped around a porcelain stool while I vomited poison into the mucus-colored water.  It was an emotional pain like I had never felt before.  Scared, lost, and without direction I turned to a therapist and have been treated with medication and talk therapy.  Life is good.  I have moved beyond surface emotions, and now experience the depth of feelings that life has to offer.

Whether physical or psychological pain, we must always be aware of the monster in the closet, better known as depression.  Pain breeds depression.  While my depression pales in comparison to someone with a severe mental illness, it can be debilitating.  Depression is waking up in the middle of the night covered with leeches that suck the spirit from my soul.  But now, after years of therapy, I can spot them from a distance as they slither over a hilltop and crawl my way.  I refuse to allow a single leech to take residence in my soul.

While a “bring-you-to-your knees” pain has many negative side effects, it can be a blessing, and serve as a reminder of how good life can be.  Imagine a musical phrase of dissonance and intensity that drives towards the final cadence and then, with true beauty, resolves into a morning spring.  Tension followed by release brings joy to one’s life.  I will dance a jig without pain as my partner.

 

 

On Thursday I met with my surgeon — yada, yada, yada

7301_100437136820483_587807534_nYou might recall that I’ve written about my back problems before:  two herniated disks in my lower back, successful surgery, months later I have pain in another location of my back, yada, yada, yada.  (In case you don’t know, yada is code for “more bullshit”) After having an MRI on my back, I met with my surgeon to discuss the findings.  It was a 7:40 a.m. appointment.  He must be working me in, I thought.  The man loves my back — a guaranteed annuity for a surgeon.  My spine looks a bit like a shiska-bob, chunks of meat and bone ready to place on a hot grill.  Ten minutes on each side, a heavy coat of bar-b-q sauce, and you have some mighty fine eating.  I know, you prefer ribs and I’m getting a little weird, yada, yada, yada.

Okay, back to the meeting with my surgeon.  For privacy purposes, we’ll call him Dr. Belly Button.  Dressed in his hospital blue scrubs and uncombed hair, Belly Button greets me and my wife as I shake his hand.  He is a reasonably handsome young man with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face; all traits that I once held but have come and gone.  You see, I’m a 71 year old man with uncombed gray hair, and shuffle my feet because the pain in my back hurts like hell.  It feels like, oh you know, yada, yada, yada.  Belly Button had a smile on his face, much like the last time he diagnosed my back problems when he recommended surgery.  There’s that smile again.  “I know what the problem is,” he said.  “And I can fix it.  You have another herniated disk in your lower back,” he said with a slight chuckle.  “We don’t know how it happened, but it’s there.”

I was relieved that all of the pain was not in my imagination, and that he located the problem.  But OMG, I have to go through more surgery?  Belly Button fires up the computer and the three of us hover around the computer screen.  He begins pointing out all of the bones and disks in my spin.  Oh look at this disk.  It looks pretty good, but now look at this one, all flattened out with goo seeping out.  Looked like a stepped-on jelly donut to me.  You have bone on bone.  And look where the nerve is located.  Just looking at it made my back hurt.

We could do the same procedure as last time when I cleaned the area, removed some bone fragments.  You know the routine, yada, yada, yada.  But this time the situation demands another technique,  I would insert some metal hardware.  You know — plates, rods, and screws.  That’s the most secure way of fixing your problem.  The recovery time will double but you can be back to normal — my mind began to drift, pain free, rough housing with my dog, messing around with my wife, yada, yada, yada.  We can use either procedure, Belly Button said, the simple but uncertain one with a shorter recovery, or the more complicated one with a longer recovery which provides for a better outcome.  We can schedule the operation in a few weeks.  Let me know which technique you would like to use.

Belly Button told me that he understood how debilitating nerve pain can be.  “It can cause depression,”  he said.  Oh really, I thought.  That’s quite an understatement. Your fucking A it causes depression.  It’s a “can’t move” depression.  Lets open my back up right now, I thought.  Here, hand me the knife and I’ll do the slicing myself.  Look, there’s that stepped-on jelly roll.  Hand me a stapler and a couple of rubber bands.  There, it feels better already.  Ooops, I’m losing a ton of blood.  Looks like I’m a quart low.  Give me a can of 10-40.  That takes care of anything.  Pains gone.  Time to go home.  Thank you God for my imagination.  It always makes me feel better.

 

 

God told me that I needed a “buzz.”

7301_100437136820483_587807534_nIt’s been a long time since my last blog, maybe two weeks or perhaps a month.  As most of you know, I’ve been struggling with back pain.  In January 2014 I had surgery for two herniated disks in my lower back.  Surgery was successful, pain disappeared.  I probably should add that the pain leading to the surgery was extreme, ungodly, pain-in-the-back, fucking low-life bad.  But it was over, until a few weeks later when the pain appeared in another spot in my spine: not as bad as before, but it sucked.  I’ve been trying several modes of treatment with limited results  — I still have back pain.  I take two Excedrine every four hours for pain.  It doesn’t leave, it just moves into the back seat of the car while I try to watch the drive-in movie from the front seat.  I find myself sleeping a lot during the day.  I mow, take some pills, pass out on the sofa, followed by the same routine, day after day.  It’s beginning to suck.

This brings me to my latest experience.  It happened this afternoon as I was mowing the grass.  I had this conversation with God, or maybe an imaginary talk with God.  I really don’t know, but it was satisfying.  I must have said something like, “Hey God, things are not going well.  I hurt, I take pills, and I sleep.  Doesn’t say much for the “golden years.'”

“Maybe the answer is in front of your eyes,” he must have said.  “You know how they said in your church that the streets of heaven are paved with gold.  Maybe there’s another way of looking at this.  Maybe heaven isn a continuous ‘buzz.’  Think about it.  That’s not so bad.  Maybe you can gain a temporary reprieve from your pain.  Drink a bottle of wine and eat some “cheddar fish crackers.”

“I think that I understand,” I said.  I opened a bottle of wine and poured myself a bowl of those “cheddar fish crackers” that my granddaughters like.  Wine and “fish crackers” can be mighty fine.  It was overcast tonight, nice cool breeze outside.  I invited my wife and dog to join me outside.  “Tonight,” I said, “I am going to get a nice buzz.”  And oh Lordy, I have a nice one going on.  My wife had one glass and several fish crackers.  My dog, Bailey, had numerous fish crackers, and I had a bottle of wine.

So, here I am.  The buzz is still real and fine.  Had dinner, maybe one of the best I’ve ever had.  My wife still loves me, even though I sometimes act like a fool.  And Bailey, she always loves me.  You know, dogs can sense the really good things of life — that’s me.

I don’t know how often I’m going to repeat this, but it was wonderful tonight.  Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow, the next night, and so on.  Thursday I meet with my surgeon to discuss my latest MRI.  To be cut open or not, that will be the question.

Now I arrive at the moment when I hit the “return” button on my computer.  No more thought, no proof-reading.  Shit in, shit out, that’s tonight’s offering.  Tomorrow morning I won’t believe that I sent this out.  But it is what it is.