There’s a story (that may be apocryphal) about someone traveling all the way across the country from the east coast, out into the desert to find Georgia O’Keeffe. When he arrived he explained that he had hitch-hiked his way across the country, “just to see her”
“This is the front of me,” she turned around, “this is the back of me. Goodbye.” and she closed the door.
The back of me, as it turns out, is a literal pain in the neck, and pain in the ass.
I’ve long known about two herniated disks in my upper spine. As best as I can theorize, these were at the root of the upper back/arm pain that I experienced during last winter’s six month stretch of chemotherapy, for which I took copious amounts of narcotics. At some point during those six months, a new pain developed running down the back of my left leg. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’ve been suffering from considerable sciatic pain ever since. As it turns out (MRI last monday), I have two herniated disks in my lower back too! One with “compression of the left S1 nerve root in the lateral recess.” Nice to know that the pain is in my back and leg, and not just in my head.
The puzzler is, how on earth did I herniate two disks in my lower spine during a period of relative inactivity. The pain developed during a time when cooking dinner was the most active and gymnastic that I ever got. The upper back disks, I feel pretty certain, were the result of too much break-dancing in the nineties and noughties (I broke). If the lower back disks were a result of tissue breakdown caused by the chemotherapy (my theory.. not something about which there seems to be much data), why would it just be those two? Why not a spine full of disk herniation? I will discuss this further with the doc next week. My guess is that it’s a combination of the two. Maybe leftover non symptomatic injury from my dancing days that was pushed over the edge by acid in my veins.
As if on cue, yesterday the disks in my upper spine acted up while I was working on the lathe, and made the sciatic pain feel like a nice massage. Nice to have things put in perspective. At the urging of my dad and my wife, I resorted to codeine in the evening. This morning, it’s still there. Feck. This poor old body.
Tonight my whole family will be coming over for easter bunny. Cooking rabbit for easter has been my tradition (and favorite joke), for years now. This year, it was pretty hard to find the little critters, maybe because of this? I guess it’s a pretty obvious joke, in the end.