Dec 172009

I came to some conclusions and made some decisions.   A few weeks back, I mentioned that I was going to work with a chiropractor that I trust.  Dr. Sean trains with us at my school and were it not for him, I would likely never consider chiropractic care as a viable option.  The only problem is that his office is deep in Tacoma.  So, while Dr. Sean would be my first choice, I’ve had to figure out how I can get the attention I need somewhere a little closer to home.

Fortunately, another guy at the school whom I’ve known for years recommended his chiropractor, who has an office much closer to my house, about halfway between where I live and the BJJ school.  I went to see him for the first time on Tuesday and my initial reaction was very positive.  

There were some definite things he did that I liked.  First, he was extremely cautious.  The first day, he didn’t do any kind of an adjustment.  Instead, he did some tests along the lines of, “Do this.  Does that hurt?  Any tingling or numbness?  Okay.  Do this.  Pain?”   He also took some x-rays and requested my MRI that was done a few years back from the hospital. 

Second, he did a lot of explaining.  He described my symptoms back to me, a good way to let me know that he’d been listening and understood what I was saying.  He then told me some common causes for my issues and explained how he works.  And then he sent me home no worse off than when I came in. 

All in all, a very good start.  I went in the next day, yesterday, to take a look at the x-rays and talk in more detail about what is going on, and he then did an adjustment.

Turns out I’m suffering from disc degeneration in my L5 vertebrae.  If you’d like to know more about it, here’s a nifty, interactive video I found.  The intarweb is awesome and the narrator even sounds like the guy who did the voiceover for the films we watched in biology class in school.  If you’re getting the impression that this isn’t entirely good news, you’re right.  It’s not.  As the chiropractor said yesterday, once the disc is gone, you can’t get it back.   According to the doc, I’m not at phase 2 yet, but I’m also well past phase 1… somewhere between the two.

What I need to do now, according to my new chiropractor, is keep what I have for as long as I can.  I am not anxious to find any kind of surgical solution to this problem for many reasons (although if you ask me when I’m suffering from muscle spasms, sciatica and the subsequent sleep deprivation, I’d agree to just about anything if you promised to make the pain stop).   A combination of everything I’ve been doing, plus regular chiropractic care, according to this chiropractor, will help maintain what disc I have left, help stabilize everything and keep me functioning as well as possible.  He said that this might mean never having surgery or maybe putting it off for 30 years… as opposed to 10 as I progress into phase II degeneration and on toward phase III.

So, not altogether good news.  I appreciate that he didn’t blow smoke up my behind.  He admitted that I might experience blow outs in my back… it’s just the nature of the beast.  Where my disc should be nice and puffy, my L5 disc is about a 1/4 of where it should be. 

In spite of all that, I went to class and had a good time.  I was a little sore toward the end of class, but after a little ice on the lower back and a good dinner, I felt great by bedtime.

Dec 022009

Cyborg I’m serious.  My back has let me down again and I’m done with it.  I’m ready to go into some mad scientist’s secret laboratory and undergo some painful surgery that replaces my skeleton with adamantium, or perhaps some combination of gyros and advanced cybertronics.  Hell, I’ll take $6 million worth of bionics.  Whatever. 

Wednesday, I went to class without a problem.  We rolled relatively light.  I had a great roll with Mark W, the kids’ coach, which I always enjoy a lot.  He and I match up well, enough to push me, but not overwhelm me. 

Thursday, I was a little stiff in my hip.  Nothing unusual, though.  I live with that pretty much all the time now.  I was in charge of the turkey, the gravy and the wine.  My wife pretty much took care of everything else… because she rocks like that.  My 12 year old daughter made pumpkin pie and pumpkin loaf for dessert.  I’ll have to take some time to write an entire post about how completely amazed I am with her passion and talent for baking and cooking.  Suffice to say that her pies were great… crust nice and flaky. 

Anyway, Thanksgiving day was fine.  I felt okay.  Still a little stiff, but as I said, nothing unusual.  Friday morning I woke up and went to yoga with my wife and daughter.  I didn’t overdo it at all.  Felt a little more tweaky Friday night.

Saturday morning, I woke up in a lot of pain.  So, I began icing my back.  Slept like hell that night and Sunday was in a lot of pain.  My right hip was on fire and my back was killing me.  Monday, I drove to work, although I’m not sure how.  I made it about 2 hours before I called the doctor.

backpainTwo days off work and I’m starting to feel better.  I slept last night, but it was drug assisted sleep, so not very restful.  Enough, though, that my mood is considerably better.  As usual, I’m a little depressed.  The conversation with the doctor was entirely without hope.

Doctor:  "So, what’s going on?"
Me:  "My back is killing me.  Look, Doc.  Here’s the deal.  I exercise more than most of America.  I have a strong core.  I have lost 40 lbs.  I want to figure out a way to break this cycle.  What can I do?"
Doctor:  "Well, unfortunately, there’s not a lot that you can do.  It sounds like you’re doing all of the right things."
Me:  "So, you’re telling me that I can just expect this to happen for the rest of my life?"
Doctor:  "Basically, yeah."


He actually said, "Welcome to the world of chronic back pain, along with millions of other people in America."  Well, if it’s all the same, I’ll pull out my member card from the Six Million Dollar Man Bionic Action Club (which I still have!) and go that route.

So, Dr. Sean, you were right and I was wrong.  I have a hangups with chiropractors, but I trust you and need to do something else.  Traditional medicine has failed me.  Unless I want to live with a cycle of pain, vicodin and flexeril, I need to do something different.  I’ll talk with you about it next time I see you, even if you weren’t man enough to wear the stache!  hehe.