not so intelligently designed, that stupid spinal column.

I’d like to return this week for a refund, please.

I’m now in Week Three of the Great Big Lower Back Kablooie.  On Monday, I had to go to the ER, and on Wednesday, I got to take a spin in the MRI machine over at Dartmouth.  Today I went in for a follow-up visit with the family doc, and it turns out I have not just one, but two disks bulging and intruding into areas usually taken up by nerve clusters.

It’s gradually getting better, and I’m doing OK most of the time thanks to some truly awesome prescription meds.  I am, however, missing this weekend’s Readercon down in Burlington, which is a major bummer.  I’ve been looking forward to Readercon for months, and having to sit it out at home while so many of my writer pals and acquaintances are having a geekfest down there really doesn’t much to lift my mood.  To top it all off, I’m not allowed to drink because of the industrial-strength pain meds in my system, so I can’t even drown my sorrow.  Stupid, treacherous body, I tell you.

Oh, well.  There’s always Boskone next year, and Worldcon down in Reno.  Also, one of my VP pals is going to come up to Castle Frostbite for a visit next week, and she can fill me in on all the juicy gossip from the Skiffy front.  Until then, I’ll be burning through my Netflix queue and books-to-read stack while waiting for this spine to reset itself to normal operational parameters.

18 thoughts on “not so intelligently designed, that stupid spinal column.

  1. Tennessee Budd says:

    After my leg was nearly taken off at 40mph, I found alcohol to be an excellent complement to heavy-duty pain medications–in strict moderation.

  2. Jay G. says:

    [mental note] Leave the 600 Nitro rifles at home so Marko isn’t tempted to shoot them at the bloggershoot…

    But seriously, get better soon Marko. Back issues *suck* – getting T-boned at ~ 45 MPH will do a number on your back, too…

  3. Charles says:

    Give the old body a break. It was the best design option available at the time. Getting old sucks and generally speaking you only get one ride.

    Enjoy your down time.

  4. Tam says:

    Dude, I hope you get better soon!

  5. LabRat says:

    The avian/dinosaurian design is a much sounder one for bipedalism, sadly. The mammalian plan just has too many constraints imposed by design “decisions” that cannot be reversed, like passing the birth canal through the pelvis.

    Sucks about the con; I hope you’re feeling better soon.

  6. Will says:

    Marko,
    the latest thing I hear from the back industry is some sort of machine that is called the “x-9000” or something along that line. Not something you have at home, but is kept at the docs. Big unit, IIRC. I think it works something like the torture rack, in that it actively takes the compression off the discs, which is supposed to allow the disc to stop herniating and heal the outer sheath. No personal history with it, just get flyers occasionally. Lots of testimonials, and may have patents on the tech. I seem to have tossed them, as none come to hand at the moment.

  7. emdfl says:

    Most Chiropractors have ajustable body braces that will stretch the back and allow the discs to reposition themselves over a short course of treatment.
    The real b***h is that once one of the little buggers slips(usually due to some sort of dumb performed by their owner) they have a tendency to do so again for a lessor reason then the first time.
    (I’m hoping to avoid number four at the moment….)

  8. Peter says:

    Marko, I daresay the subject of discectomy and/or spinal fusion will crop up as your doctor analyzes your disk problems. I’ve had both, and I’m here to tell you: if at all possible, avoid them! Once you’ve resorted to the knife, it’s almost impossible to get back to the sort of health you once enjoyed.

    Of course, you may not have much choice if your spine deteriorates too much. I didn’t, in the end, as my herniated disk was due to an external injury, not wear & tear. I’ve got a fused spine now, coupled with nerve damage, and I’m on a 24/7/365 dosage of various pills to take the edge off the pain. I don’t recommend it . . . but if that’s the only solution, it’s a damn sight better than being crippled.

    I’ll be holding thumbs for you.

    • MarkHB says:

      Bloody hell, Peter😦

      Good luck, mate. I hope you find a permanent fix that’s better than pill-popping.

  9. Al T. says:

    😦 Best wishes!

  10. Eric says:

    I agree with avoiding fusion at all costs. I popped a disk (L4/L5) trying to clean up hurricane debris back in 2004 and had a “laminectomy with partial discectomy” in Nov. 2005. The first doc (ortho), wanted to fuse my spine. I found a neurosurgeon for a second opinion and he took the conservative route.

    My uncle had spinal fusion for a similar injury and he was laid up for months! I was back at work in just over 3 weeks, but that was because I have a desk job (Oracle DBA) and my wife works at the same place and could drive me to work.

    Don’t delay as my surgery was just over a year after the injury and my disc was chewed up pretty bad during the delay.

  11. Antibubba says:

    A carbon-fiber exoskeleton, that’s what you need!

  12. Will says:

    If your doc starts talking surgery, go find a Physiatrist. They are sports medicine specialists. May have mentioned them the last time you had a back flareup. They specialize in non-surgical treatment of back problems. Don’t know what the current success rates for surgeries are, but twenty years ago it was about 60%. Physiatry was over 90%. They do other stuff besides backs. The big name sports stars go to them, because they get back on the fields faster.

    If you are serious about solving this problem, without maybe crippling yourself, find one. Surgery is a crapshoot. Too many never regain full function. My sister, who worked in the medical field, was told by a surgeon to try anything other than surgery for her sciatica.

    I screwed around with regular docs for years with back problems. Fucking HMO’s. I was walking wounded for near 10 years. Couldn’t even push my bikes around the garage most of the time, let alone ride them. Played hell with finding work. Ignored a friend who kept telling me to go see his Physiatrist. Fell asleep while riding in truck on our way home from a SOF three gun match. Got in the house, took a nap, woke up and couldn’t turn my head. Doc says, once again, “back strain”. Pills. Really bad 6 months. Had to wait for the yearly window to change to a PPO plan. Went to my friends doc. Turns out he and his brother were the fix-it guys for the 49er’s Football Team. He tells me that “back strain” means the doc doesn’t know what he is talking about. No such thing in medicine. Did some tests, had me in for two MRI’s a day or two later. (I’d been trying to get this for years!) One disc in neck, one lower back. maybe three months of customized therapy, I was like new. Bought a new bike, even got back on the racetrack.

  13. MarkHB says:

    FWIW, I herniated a disk (L4) from using too-short desks, because all my clients were normal-size humans instead of elongated freaks like me. I went to a physiotherapist for (initially) electrical pain relief (weird suction cups that had electrodes at the far end that pulsed and basically numbed the area) and for manipulations that skwudged the disk back between the bones like it was meant to be.

    I think I told you about falling out of the car and trying to lever myself to my feet looking like a beardy Tetris piece and the nurse shouting “This one’s yours, Tammy!” at the doctor. If not, well.. you can do a reconstruction in your mind.

    I haven’t really had any trouble since. Since hitting NM, I’ve been sleeping on airbeds, and my lower spine is *starting* to complain, but I’ll see a physioterrorist a long, long time before I let anyone near me with a knife.

  14. perlhaqr says:

    I’ve wanted to be a full-conversion cyborg for a long, long time, just to get away from continual back pain.

  15. LittleRed1 says:

    I had a high school teacher with chronic back pain and her comment was “bipedalism may be a touch overrated.” I’ve not been able to ask any quadrupeds for their assessment of the matter. I also had a college professor who recommended not falling off mountains as a method to avoid back problems. I’m trying to follow his suggestion.

  16. Firehand says:

    I once managed to, by picking up my 20lb daughter the wrong way, pull something in my back; took a bloody month to get over it and was damned grateful it wasn’t a permanent damage of some kind

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