Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Disk Error

In addition to Crunch Week at the job and getting ready for Jim's memorial for this Sunday, my sciatica's been constant lately. I could have my left thigh pierced and put an earring through it and not feel it.

Naturally, every New Ager I know would say that I'm somaticizing my feelings onto my lower back. Such people, you could have a greenstick fracture to your arm and the bone could be sticking out through your skin and they will still smile smugly and tell you it's all in your head.

But I've been "in touch with my feelings" since the '70s and let me tell you, I know a pinched nerve when I feel it as opposed to "holding tension in my lower back and if I would only get in touch with my feelings, it would go away." As if my feelings were some remote, alien things to which I had an autistic's disconnect, and only the Smug New Agers held the key to release Rapunzel from her feelings-ignorant prison.

Three years ago when I had a flare-up of symptoms, I spoke with my husband's neurologist.

"Sounds like a pinched nerve in the lower back," she surmised. "Take some Tylenol, heat and gentle exercise and if it's not better by Monday, call me." It was better by Monday, and in the intervening three years, it was always better by Monday. But for the past few months, instead of three days of sciatica followed by three months of being pain-free, it's been the other way around.

There is certainly enough emotionally to deal with, and I'm not in denial about that. There's the memorial service, which I set up and coordinated, and where I feel as if I have to come up with the ultimate speech about who Jim was and what he meant to me.

Then last week, the day before my birthday, my internist called.

"I have the results of your blood work."

"You gave me the results of my blood work two weeks ago."

"Yes, but we ran other blood work on your blood work, and you have an auto-immune disorder."

She referred me to a specialist, who I'll be seeing the week after next. I Googled "auto-immune disorder" and the treatment is steroids, which have numerous unwanted side-effects, the least of which is making you as fat as that Violet kid in Willy Wonka. The words "no" and "second opinion" come to mind.

So even when I set aside some time to talk it over, think it over, write it over and give vent to all feelings and possible solutions to what's pressuring me, I still feel as if I need root canal on the bones of my butt. Because, to paraphrase Olivia Newton-John, it's physical, you idiot! Physical! Physical! Even a secular New Age neurotic living in downtown Manhattan has problems, especially at 54, that stem from physical causes and need to be seen by an allopathic, Establishment, degree-from-a-recognized-medical-school doctor.

So I'll be seeing her on Friday, and she'll probably send me for an MRI to confirm most likely a slipped disk, and I'll wave that MRI in front of all of the "it's all in your head" people. Then I'll get a prescription for physical therapy and learn the exercises they give me, the way I did for my knee. And thus I will continue to take responsibility for my health, although to hear the Smug People speak, that would be like handing over the controls of a 747 to an inebriated toddler.

Update, Friday Afternoon: I'm back from the back. It's a pinched nerve, "although stress doesn't help," and the treatment is physical therapy, a heating pad and OTC pain-killers. If there's no improvement after a month, I have to come back for more tests.

I have a feeling there will be an improvement. For one thing, I notice that I hunker down in my chair gripping my keyboard as if I'm about to be launched bodily into cyberspace, an action that has to be turning my vertebrae into a stack of pancakes. That's probably the part that stress doesn't help.

So onward and outward to Sunday, and then Monday I'll call the physical therapy people.

Good Lord, I love your blog, Melinda, and not just because of this post, though it's the one that prodded me to remember I've meaning to write that.

Good fortune with it all--and I will especially think of you this Sunday.
My best to you on Sunday with the memorial and when you go see the dr. I hope everything turns out well.
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