Back to Chronic Pain

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I am convinced my back is in bad shape.

I’m used to chronic pain, to some extent. For a period of about two years, I had a headache more often than I didn’t, and multiple MRIs and CT scans could uncover no physiological reason why I was getting them. I still get headaches now and again, and they can sometimes be severe, but nothing like I was experiencing about five years ago.

One time at about 6:30 in the morning, I awakened my wife by screaming. My headache had gone full cluster, and by the time the pain had subsided I could give you a full inventory of everything in the apartment that was potentially lethal. I could also tell you that I dismissed every one of them for being too slow. Fortunately I’ve not had anything that bad since, but there are times, rare though they are, that I come close.

Head pain I can deal with. I know what movements aggravate the pain and what movements I can do without making things worse.

But this chronic back pain is nothing like I’ve ever experienced.

Back in something like 2002 or 2003 I was involved in a car accident. My wife was driving down a hill on a three-lane one-way road in the rain, and a dump truck pulled out into the center lane in front of us. We had the choice of sideswiping the car to our immediate left, sideswiping the car to our immediate right, or ramming into the back of the truck. My wife figured that the truck would be the least likely to be uninsured, so we slammed on the brakes and hoped for the best. The collision broke three of the engine mounts and pushed everything forward of the firewall back about three inches. The bumper of the dump truck, which was what we hit, showed no damage whatsoever.

The end result of that accident was that it totaled the Chevy S10 we were driving, tore the disc between L5 and S1 in my wife’s back, and herniated the same disc in me.

And now, I fear that the herniation has progressed over time to something much worse.

I can sit for hours at a time. Moving around isn’t a problem for me at all. But lying down for more than about 45 minutes at a time causes my lower back to begin to seize up. If I’m in bed the entire night, I have to have help getting out of bed the following morning, so I generally wake sometime in the middle of the night and go sit with a heating pad on the area. (I haven’t iced it since I don’t have an easy way of icing my back on my own in the middle of the night; it also doesn’t help that our icemaker is lethargic and coughs up a fresh batch of ice about once every four hours or so, and we’re chronically low on ice. Besides, the heat helps every time, so there’s that.) Tonight I’m going to try and sleep sitting up in our rocking chair with my feet propped up and see if spending the entire night upright will help.

Fortunately, I have a doctor’s appointment Monday morning to get this looked at, as well as my blood pressure medications. It’s just a matter of surviving until then.

Here’s hoping there’s a better fix than replacing the mattress. That’s going to be an expensive and very unwieldy remedy.

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