A Series of Unfortunate Events and A Drug-Induced Rage Post

Sunday, December 27, 2015

To wrap up this year, my back decided to explode. Happy New Year! I have a herniated disk and it’s bad. And when I say bad, I mean it’s 6am Christmas morning and I’ve been up for 3 hours already (my lack of sleep is not due to the holiday excitement), my left leg is numb, and it feels like there’s fire in my veins.  I’m not sure how that works, but apparently, you can be numb and feel unquenchable burning at the same time.

It all started a few weeks ago just before Thanksgiving. I had moved apartments and had tweaked my back in the process. I was also sleeping on an old mattress with a bad box spring and then tried to drive 12 hours to visit my sister for Thanksgiving. Half way there, I stopped for the night in Crescent City. I stayed at a small motel on the coast with a view of the ocean. That night, there was a major storm and the wind and rain pelted the small room. I thought I was in a hurricane with the rain and wind battering the walls, roof and window. It kept me up, restless. I know that area is especially prone to tsunamis, so I had anxious nightmares about a gigantic wave smashing me to pieces. The next morning, I could barely stand, walk, sit, or drive.

In the morning, I did manage to make it 5 painful minutes down the road to get breakfast. Once at the restaurant, I started having serious problems. The pain was overwhelming me. I got hot, sweaty, dizzy and almost fainted. I tried standing, sitting, walking. Nothing helped. I finally walked outside and laid down on a bench. That relieved enough of the pressure that I didn’t pass out. The kind waitress brought my food out in a doggy bag as I just laid there.

I spent the rest of the day in the motel. I was still thinking I would feel better the next day and could continue my drive. How optimistic and stupid! By the next morning, I was at urgent care getting pain killers so I would last a few more days until seeing my doctor. Long story short, turns out I have a herniated disk (the lowest disk in my back) that is putting pressure on the left sciatic nerve root (which runs down my leg). Basically, my disk exploded and is choking the nerve root. Nerves don’t like that.

I guess now I’m an old person with a ‘bad back’. It sucks. It also makes me angry when people give unsolicited advice. And it doesn’t help that my doctor gave me an oral steroid to reduce swelling, but it just makes me agitated, irritable, and angry. So here goes the drug-induced rage part of the post….

One thing that happens when people hear what I’m going through is to give me advice. Have I tried yoga? Do you know yoga is great for posture and core strength?
And I recognize this comes from a good place in people. They want to share with me something that has helped them, but don’t realize that my situation might be totally different. Or that I already do yoga! And ballet and hike and walk and stay active and have good posture and am not overweight and don’t drink or smoke… all the things to avoid injury in the first place. Seriously, I feel like I’m bleeding from a gapping wound in my neck and people are giving me a child-size bandaid printed with cartoon characters and saying this will make it all better!
It’s irritating.

After the urgent care visit, I took the pain meds and tried to continue on my way to my sister's house. At this point, I was high on medicine so probably wasn’t thinking too clearly. I only made it a few minutes down the road and had to pull over from the pain. I saw a man who had just checked out of the hotel (suitcase in hand) who was walking down the road. He saw me and stopped to ask if I knew where the greyhound bus station was located. We got to talking and he was headed to Portland so I offered him a ride. Actually, I offered him a ride and then made him drive as I laid down in my drug-induced state and sang Christmas carols. His name was Miguel or Manuel or something like that. He said it was a bible name, but I don’t remember a Manuel in the bible. Maybe short for Emmanuel? Anyway, I was pretty drugged up so don’t recall all the details. Probably not my wisest moment.

But, I survived the drive, Manuel survived my endless singing, and we both made it to Portland alive! And eventually, I made it home safely (a friend flew out and drove me back to San Francisco). Now I just have to work out my back issue while dealing with a high deductible health insurance plan (which basically means I pay for everything myself) and being temporarily homeless. I usually don’t write such bitchy posts, but I blame the drugs on this one :) That, and the constant, searing pain in my back/leg for the past 5 weeks.

Merry Christmas!

PS. Encouraging comments welcome (no advice)! Also, I do want to thank all my friends for putting up with me the past few weeks while I've been a grumpy gus. Thank you!


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