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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Apparently, at some point, I fractured a vertebra near the base of my spine; it healed, but the fracture and some other things related to it caused a narrowing of the spinal canal and that is why I am having lower back problems--not all the time, but I do get very painful bouts of sciatica now and again. The fracture could have happened as far back as childhood or young adulthood and I am just starting to get side effects now, later in life--I fell on my tailbone several times when I was a kid, for sure. My doctor has several options, including and up to a fairly simple surgery, but he hopes that physical therapy, exercise, and possibly steroid injections will help, as well as clearing up the intestinal blockages which seem to exacerbate the problem (the blockages seem to be a thing of the past now, controlled with diet and daily fiber supplements).

The spinal problem was discovered today after I had a spinal MRI. I am very uncomfortable with small, tight places and an MRI, turns out, is like being inside a vibrating coffin. I requested a sedative for the procedure, but some order or other didn't go through, and so I had to bite the bullet and do the MRI without sedation. They gave me a very dark sleep-mask to go over my eyes, industrial strength earplugs (they protect your ears with some short of shield as well), and because of these, it was really not so bad--in fact, I got curious and peeked out from under the mask to see the MRI interior, and it definitely was not as scary as I thought. The noise was quite intense (buzzing and banging, like being inside a pile driver), but they take breaks between imagings so you can have a bit of a breather. The strangest thing was that the titanium clips I have internally from my gallbladder removal in 2001 started to feel like they were moving a little and heating up, which started to worry me a bit--I did not want to have the skewer-in-a-baked-potato effect. The technician said that was common, even with titanium clips, and it was not harmful.

I'm glad I have got the problem diagnosed--apparently swimming is a great exercise for this, but of course I have no idea if I can access the local pool without potentially crossing paths with a specific person, and, as with all the dance classes, local concerts, etc., there is no way to find out schedules or negotiate anything--so instead of taking that risk, I will have to drive to another pool, about fifteen minutes away (but with showers) or swim in the local seasonal pool (made by damming up the creek), not my first choice. I also will be doing more yoga and stretching of the lower back.

It's a bit of a bummer--I had no idea I was running around with a fracture in my spine--but at least I know now what the problem is, and that of course is good! Plus the problem was definitely not as bad as it could be.