Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ye Gads, My Doctor Found a Snake in My Body!

A hearty hello to each of you, my dear friends.

I welcome you again to the serving up of my words; I am greatly honored you are here. I hope you are able to find something that whets your appetite as you graze from my table.

I’ve grabbed a cup of coffee and pulled a rocker close to the fire to knock off the chill. You guys get comfortable wherever you may find yourself on the web worldwide. I have learned from my Blog Meister I am getting hits on my blog from Asia, Africa, and South America, as well as several countries in Europe. 

She is not sure if this is from people reading or landing there by accident, probably some of both she said. Regardless, bless each and every one of you for joining me.

Now, if you’re settled in I am going to tell you a tale, and I’m tellin’ you right up front I’m not proud of what I’m goin’ to share. You will learn how I, your (now) humbled correspondent, can be a low-down, pathetic, self-absorbed, whining and disgusting cup of pond scum on occasion.
                                  
                                        **********
So let’s back up seven months when this whole darn mess began.

I had left Misty Hollow to spend the night down in town with my sister, Debby. I opened my eyes the next morning anticipating a fun day of shopping and stopping by our favorite eatery.

I placed my feet on the floor and stood to rise and found my body bent over at the waist, unable to rise further. I stood stuck there wavering, as thunderbolts of pain struck the right side of my lower back. Howling like a banshee, my sister heard my agony and came running from her bedroom, shaken from a deep sleep.

HELP ME! HELP ME!", I hollered. Debbie, also my best friend, came running to my side and, after seeing my contorted body, leaped into action. 
First, she urged me to lie back down on the bed. "NO! NO!" I actually thought if I did lie flat, my legs would stick straight up in the air and the pain would be even more excruciating. I was reassured not and, as always, Debbie was right.

An icy compress slid under my back, and two anti-inflammatory aspirin were dispensed in short order. Deb was telling me she had experienced something akin to this herself and it could be what her doctor called sciatica, a malady usually caused when a herniated disk or bone spur in the spine presses on the sciatic nerve.
                                   **********
Well, that infamous day eventually took me over the next several months from swinging my world by the tail to my tail finally dragging me around like an old broken down virago. Chronic pain has a way of doing that to a human being, as many of you may know.

My life continued to stumble on. The pain was consistently low grade but sharp pains presented with seemingly simple twists of my body; time refused to be my friend though as the situation began getting worse. I eventually found myself altering my actions and walk to adjust to and even avoid the pain, and I was rewarded with a huge corn on my right foot that had to be treated daily.

I dug my heels in though and began dealing with the problem by constantly rotating self-remedies of four 500 milligrams of Extra-Strength Tylenol a lick (is my liver still alive, I would wonder) to spending copious amounts of time in our 104-degree hot tub outside.  

After eating through jars of Blue-Emu, I found myself also applying those huge Icy Hot Patches...the gift that kept on giving...then taking thin layers of skin as I would rip them off; peeling them off slowly prolonged the agony.

Also, an unused prescription of heavy duty pain pills barely used from surgery last year became a life saver. I would take one when absolutely essential. Easter Sunday up here at Bear Cabin as we entertained 30 + guests was an incredibly awesome but two pills kinda day.
                                 
                                           *********

But ya know what bothered me most, guys? The not-so-subtle changes in my temperament and personality as I began to lose hope of the pain going away. I was becoming bitter and angrier at my lot in life. The things I had once enjoyed so much began to fall by the wayside. I no longer enjoyed card games with my Tony and keeping up with my buds on Facebook became a low priority. Having the grandkids up for the weekend was too daunting and the upcoming family vacation, a favorite time of my year, was dreaded.

I tried to hide it when talking with the kids and grandkids, but my dear husband was getting the brunt of my malady. Daily we would hold hands, and this man of mine would plead with God to please help me with my back situation. Our Father was listening to his every word, believe me.
He was only waiting for me to hear Him.
                                       
                                            **********
After nearly six months into the vice grip, Tony began to go to a chiropractor in Bristol for some problems he was having. I was too self-absorbed to be much help to him. After his fourth adjustment, he began to report impressive results. Not only did a flare up of lower back pain from a 45-year-old former back surgery retreat but his chronic sinus problems cleared up as well.

Then is when I finally decided to secure this miracle worker's manipulations for myself. I was way beyond the point I could adequately care for my Tennessee Walker, Trig. I was selfishly leaving the evening feedings and stall mucking to Tony.

I called Tony's chiropractor.
                                  
                                            ***********
The day of that chiropractic appointment came, and I walked back to the good doctor's examination room when called. When he entered the room, I stood up and stuck my finger in his chest. With a big grin, I said with much gusto, "I have great news for you, my friend. I am a simple woman with a simple problem. I have sciatica on my right side because that is where my pain is radiating, and I have done my research. You should be able to give me four adjustments then I will be out of your hair and hands!" He broke out laughing, and I knew then we were going to have a great patient/doc relationship.

"You know,” he said, “you could be right on the money, but you do realize as a new patient I need to do a basic X-ray workup?"
He did and then asked me to step in for the review. As he was hanging my films on the back-lit wall, he was informing me sciatica was not my problem. As I stared at what was before me, instead of seeing what I expected to see...a straight spine, I saw a lazy ‘S’ on that film.
                                      
                                            ***********

I remember blurting, "What the heck is that snake doing in my back?”

"Linda, did you not know you have scoliosis of the spine?”

"Uh, no."

"How in the world can you be sixty-three years old and not be aware of this? Did no one ever catch it?"

Then he asked, “Have you been in a serious car accident?" Not that a car wreck can cause scoliosis; he inquired for another reason.

In a nanosecond my mind flashed through the years of falls from my horses, breaking bones from the impacts.

I recalled my most recent crash several months prior when before Trig's morning feed he had wandered from his barn down to the front of the cabin where I sat on the front porch having coffee.

I was still in my jammies, but I grabbed a treat and ran down the cabin steps. Then I looked up at that big, broad, black back and got a wild hair. I figured a quick little bareback ride in the bottom pasture would be enjoyable for both of us.

Grasping a handful of mane, I managed to climb aboard his 16-hands height, and when settled, I gave the cues to turn him down the lane. Trig has always 'listened' to my legs, and he turned as I cued him up to a fast walk with the intentions of leading him into a slow canter.

It never happened.

Just about the time the canter cue was coming my Trig did an abrupt ninety degree left turn toward his water bucket. I immediately rolled over and off his right shoulder and hit the gravel road beneath, landing flat on my back.

The physical shock was overwhelming! My first thought? I have broken my back! My second? I am up here in the total privacy of all this acreage...by myself. I lay there stunned.

The next moment I opened my eyes to see my Trig's massive head hanging over me and then felt his tongue frantically licking my face. He has always been overwhelmingly protective of me (he has already attacked a donkey he thought was a threat to me and gone after a large dog as well.)

I could just hear him saying, "MOM, MOM, are you okay? I just wanted to suck up some liquid before we rode. My bad, my bad!"

The fact I was able to laugh at his sincere concern told me I was going to live, so I thanked God, scraped myself up and hobbled into the cabin. The next three days of agony assured me though I would never pull that stunt again.
                                      
                                              *********

"Nope, no car wrecks”, I replied.

"Well, it appears on your x-ray down here near the lumbar vertebrae there is a problem with two discs. My first recommendation Linda is you go to an orthopedic surgeon so they can take a better look at this and also establish a benchmark to monitor possible deterioration of your spine due to scoliosis .”

Knowing then an MRI had to be in my future, and a quick, easy fix at the chiropractor’s office was not to be, I burst into tears. Feeling like an idiot, I was embarrassed after I realized the folly of walking into that facility and thinking I would get a quick fix. Yet, I could not help but think of the coming summer and hikes and water balloon fights, boating on Lake Watauga and more in-depth study of the Cherokee Indians to culminate in a trip to see 'The Trail of Tears' in Cherokee, N.C. I needed to get a move on!

Unfortunately, I would discover this would not be the last death of a dream regarding this mess I found myself in.
                                  
                                             *********

Once the appointment with the orthopedic surgeon was scheduled, I had a month to wait and agonize and grow more petulant. The pain had begun radiating across my entire lower back. DANG IT!

Finally, the big day came, and I must say I was both excited and anxious to make that 10:00 a.m. appointment. My Tony went with me, and when we were called back, I believed this was finally the beginning of the end to my anguish.

The surgeon’s associate pulled his chair close to mine- almost knees-to-knees and he looked intently in my face and asked, "Why are you here?"

Attesting to my cracked nerves, I wanted to reach out and smite his face. 

My mind screamed WHAT THE HECK DO YOU MEAN WHY AM I HERE? I HAVE ALREADY FILLED OUT AN ENTIRE TREE LIMB OF PAPERWORK DESCRIBING IN DETAIL WHY, YOU NITWIT! I AM ONE HAIRLINE CRACK FROM BECOMING TOTALLY FISSURED, SO WHY ARE YOU STRESSING ME FURTHER BY ASKING ME THAT?

He still continued staring at me so with every fiber of my being I, in a deadly hushed tone, replied, "I have been told by this office my MRI revealed I have a bulging disc.”

"Yes, a few," he corrected, "But go ahead and start at the beginning and tell me when this problem began and what you have done about it to date."

I became fixated on those words "yes, a few" so Tony helped me get my story out in a rational manner. Then swooping up his model of a human spine as if he was a virtuoso and that spine was his baby grand piano Doc began to glide his fingers up and down the ivory column of vertebrae, nerves, and discs, showcasing my offending problems.

I was grateful my husband was with me to help me absorb the information. All I retained from his refrain was my most aggravated bulging disc was between vertebrae 5 and 6, but I had other smaller bulging discs as well. Also, yes I did have scoliosis and spinal arthritis, and the arthritis was exacerbating the pain apart from the bulges.

And then I heard this crazed man say that surgery was out of the question.

Stricken, I felt a wave of shock followed by a stab of disbelief.

This highly skilled professional indeed could not jerk the snake from my body; he did not, however, have the nerve to veto my second quick fix.
                                      
                                            *********

I had already envisioned this brilliant wielder of the knife, feeling sad for me, telling me my major bulging disc had bothered me long enough, so he was going to put me out of my misery. He was going to perform laser surgery. 

First thing in the morning he would be admitting me to Bristol Regional, cutting a one-inch slit in my lumbar region, repairing the disc that was causing me the immense pain and then placing the Band-Aid on... just like they did in the Laser Spine Institute commercials on TV. Then he could do whatever to the other smaller problems and I could be discharged later that day.
                                 
                                           *********
Crushed and believing this simpleton had not grasped something had to be done to help me I, angrily, cut loose!  

I felt compelled to educate him in the hopes a quick laser surgery would be put back on the table.

"Please listen to me Sir," I wailed. “You don’t know anything about me and the lifestyle I have always lived." 

"You do not realize how active I have been my whole life, do you? I have snow skied, and water skied and still own a horse I ride at full gallop. I was solo camping well into my fifties. I traveled to Hawaii by myself when I was fifty-three and rented a motorcycle and rode up into the mouth of a volcano and parasailed. Not into the volcano but from the back of a boat."

That simpleton just sat there staring at me. I did not dare look over at Tony.

Taking in another deep breath, I blathered on.

"Also, in my early fifties, I picked up racquetball for an hour, five mornings a week at 5:00 a.m. at the Wellness Center. How many women do you know who were that active in their fifties?"

"Are you aware I was fifty-three and started training on my bike ten miles every morning, seven days a week, including climbing up sides of mountains? No, you're not. I rode in bike marathons and hid a grin as I passed young guys more than half my age."

This doctor did not stop staring at me, with eyes slightly wider by this time.

"I also started golfing in my fifties and am still taking week-long golfing trips every year. I so need to be able to continue that! Help me do that!" 

Feeling a little light headed but unable to regain control I let it be known then I had taken up the sport of kayaking when I was fifty-three and would speed stroke daily up and down Lake Watauga, always trying to beat my personal best. My kayak was waiting for me at the lake! 

Finally, out of desperation and for good measure I blurted out I had also had natural childbirth with my children, and I knew what pain was!  I stopped. Exhausted.
                                 
                                          **********
By this point, I felt like a deranged fool. The knees-to-knees contact now was almost unbearable as the looming face of that man confirmed what I felt. 

In my zeal to make him realize my back problem was emotionally paralyzing me, he was, I'm sure, mulling over an additional referral to a psychiatrist. 

Apparently, my rant did not impress or move his dial one iota. 

He, never taking his eyes off me, stood up and said, “Well you are no longer in your fifties, Linda; you are sixty-three now.”

BAM!

He then told me he would be having a consultation with his colleague and left the room. 

I then looked over at Tony who sat there staring straight ahead.

Soon the neurosurgeon returned. He started with a pep talk, then handed me a regimen of steroids, a prescription for arthritis pills, a booklet of back exercises and a follow-up appointment. Then he summarily dismissed me.

With a tear-streaked face, I left that office, completely defeated. As we walked back to our car, I, finally broken, uttered, “Tony, I am going to have to let this go and let God.”

EUREKA! That 'God moment' hit me like a lightning bolt.

I realized right then right there is where God had been trying to gently get me for months. I had finally reached that simple but oh, so profound truth. For months I had struggled, whined, complained and grown bitter over my situation.
                           
                                         **********

Ya see, a dear friend of mine, and I had been chatting back and forth over a grievous situation she was anguishing over in her life. All I knew to do was keep telling her she needed to ‘let go and let God.' We both, years ago, had learned the Biblical Scriptures that simple phrase was anchored upon and we knew the power and release it offered God's kids.

Alas, what a hypocrite I had been.

The whole time I was sharing with my friend, I was not ‘letting go and letting God’ when it came to my own physical problems. I had made a conscious decision months before I could handle it myself. Sadly, I could sure preach but not breach that invaluable truth myself.

As it is in our relationship and fellowship with our Heavenly Father, He will respect our free will even if it means He has to wait patiently for us to reach the point when carrying our own burdens overwhelms us. When we finally reach the end of our rope and turn our cares over to Him, He is ever ready to take our load on His own precious back.

Once I laid down my ‘self’ and turned it over to my Poppa God, it has been amazing the turn I have made physically, spiritually and emotionally. The steroids the doctor put me on began to produce positive effects within the first few days as the inflammation and pain of the bulging discs began to recede. That, working in tandem with the arthritic medication, has been miraculous. An inversion machine provided by my sister is significantly strengthening and stretching my lower back muscles and spine.

             
I anticipate being back on Trig in a few weeks. Savannah, Ryleigh, and Emmett are already on the schedule to come spend time with their Nana and Papaw up here in the shadows of the Roan, and I cannot wait for the family vacation coming up. 

Hope springs eternal now, and I have a new spring in my step.

God bless you my friends for spending this time with me, and I thank each of you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck for dining with me today.