I could make this short and sweet by saying sciatica SUCKS! and that would be sufficient.
Seriously, y’all. The pain. The limping. The wincing. The doctors.
This started about November. Some mild back pain sent me to bed with a heating pad for several nights, but all it did was warm me up from some unusual frigid temps. The pain worsened until one night, in pure desperation, I googled “back pain left side,” and sciatica was the number one hit.
How did I not think of this? I suffered from sciatica pain in pregnancy. My lower back and left leg would ache, and the back of my left knee would be so warm to the touch that the children often huddled around my leg for warmth. True story.
[Clarifying side note: After writing about strange pregnancy ailments for allParenting, I learned that sciatica in pregnancy is often really pelvic girdle pain. Yay learning!]
Anyway, back to my debilitating and horrifying pain.
Here’s how my day goes:
Get up. Kind of.
Hobble to bathroom.
Sit/fall onto toilet. Check email and Facebook, AKA procrastinate having to stand up as long as possible.
Wash face, kicking left leg to side and bending slightly at the waist. To rinse, bend neck just until you are just on the verge of passing out from the pain. Slosh 96% of counter surface with water.
Limp into girls’ room to wake for school. Luckily bending over to wake them with hugs and kisses is well worth the pain.
I could go on and on, but it’s more of the same. There’s no comfortable position. Stand: pain. Sit: pain. Sitting to standing: PAIN. Standing to walking: MEGA PAIN, SOMETIMES TEARS.
A former physical therapist friend recommended that I skip my general practitioner and go straight to an orthopedic doctor. Luckily on the day of my appointment, my ibuprofen had worn off, so my pain faces were totally legit, and he could tell I was truly hurting. Unluckily for him, I was wearing sexy X-ray shorts and hadn’t shaved since long about November.
X-rays were inconclusive, so he ordered an MRI. While waiting for the MRI results, Christian insisted I go see a chiropractor (also heavily recommended by lots o’ friends, including a doctor friend. We all trust doctor friends.)
The chiropractor took one look at me and said, “Well. You are royally f*cked up.” Maybe not in those same words.
She asked to see me every day that week, where we did adjustments followed by therapy. Let me tell you, true intimacy, like your ortho doc seeing your incredibly hairy legs, is a therapist reaching into your pants to place little electrodes on your ass. I consider us to be very close now.
By the end of the week I was feeling good, moving around with minimal pain, and having a great hair day. I was starting to beat this. Or so I thought.
My MRI showed that I have a bulging disc that is compressing my sciatic nerve. Dr. B at Texas Orthopedics explained how the condition occurs. Something having to do with fissures and bubble gum consistency and “you are getting old.” I AM NOT A DOCTOR, PEOPLE. But the main thing I remember is that he said “It will get better,” as in the pain will go away, but the disc won’t go back into place. Possibly related, “You’ll likely be dealing with flare ups for the rest of your life.” He prescribed physical therapy, and if there was still no relief, cortisone shots.
I’ve had cortisone shots in my heel years ago for plantar fasciitis. SUPER FUN. NOT AT ALL PAINFUL. LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.
I know there are many differences of opinion between medical doctors and chiropractors. I talked to each of them about my seeing the other, and for the most part they were supportive. My chiropractor, Dr. M, was honest and up front about her own issues and how she herself has gotten cortisone shots for neck pain. Dr. B (the ortho) admitted that some of his colleagues lump chiropractors in with voodoo witch doctors, but he didn’t see the harm in it, as long as I wasn’t being taken advantage of with procedures that weren’t really going to help me.
And that’s the problem. I don’t know what’s going to help me. I want so badly to be done with this. Being in pain in pretty much all of your waking hours is miserable, to say the least. It affects every single part of my daily life, from the cleanliness of my house to my patience with my children. I literally cannot find a comfortable position unless i am lying in bed. And I miss jumping on the trampoline, dammit. But the thing is, everyone seems to have a different opinion on what the “right ” thing to do is. Dr. B may tell me that my bulging disc will never go away, but someone else may say that’s not true. I just need someone to be straight with me because Y’ALL, THIS SUCKS.
So as of right now, here’s where I am. Per Dr. B’s orders, I now own a copy of Treat Your Own Back (affiliate link), and I’m scheduled to see a physical therapist specializing in McKenzie method on Monday. I’m also seeing my chiropractor 3 times a week for adjustments and therapy. I’m popping ibuprofen like crazy, stretching and foam rolling twice a day, and wearing a sexy back brace when I don’t have to be seen in public. I have good days and bad days, but the thing is, none of the days seem to correlate with anything in particular.
[now a photo of a Birthday Princess Ninja Chihuahua. Or something.]