Oh the irony

I’ve recently been looking into the potential of doing something about my back.

I have previously made reference to my back which has caused me problems for almost as long as I remember.  Then in 2009, it really caused issues when I herniated a couple of discs and was laid up for a couple of months.  Since then, I’ve seen a physio regularly (sometimes every couple of days and, at best, every 6 weeks) and my back goes out every 12 months or so and leaves me laid up for about 2 weeks each time.

But in addition to the physical effects, psychologically it’s been a battle as well.  The constant fear that it will go again, the shame when it does go and I have to rely on the help of family and friends as well as take time off work, and the ever-growing list of things I can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do for fear of hurting myself again.  I can’t tell you how silly/embarrassed/mortified I sometimes feel having to decline invitations, organise people to do everyday chores for me (like cleaning, lawn mowing and gardening).  Back injuries really are a mystery and very rarely ever the same between two people.  So what’s to say I’m not a big sook and it’s not as bad as I think or claim?

Part of my reason for losing weight was to try and help my back issues.  If I could take some pressure of my back and all other joints, maybe it wouldn’t cause me as many problems.  Yeah right.  It’s gone out twice in the last six months.  My recovery time is less but I still needed a week off work and another week of working from home some days.  The irony of losing weight and making my back worse is not lost on me!

So I spoke to my GP about seeing what else could be done.  We started with an MRI (to add to the CT I had in 2009) and then I went to see a neurosurgeon.  I don’t know what I was looking for, I guess some clue as to whether this is something I have to accept about my life but that, if there are other options, I can consider them and make an informed choice.


How are you at reading MRI’s? Damage to bottom two discs…

The neurosurgeon was very upfront once he looked at my films and basically said my injuries are not severe enough or impact my life enough to warrant surgery.  Apparently each occurrence has to cause me to be out of action for 6 weeks, not 2.  Words fail me.

Essentially the surgical options are so invasive that I would have to be much worse than I am to take the risk.  He did acknowledge that I do have damaged discs and they would probably continue to deteriorate to the point my body would perform its own version of a disc fusion.

He asked me what my goals were/what did I enjoy doing.  I said running and specifically, I wanted to do a half-marathon.  He said that my injuries shouldn’t stop me from achieving my lifestyle goals.  If I plan, train and continue to build strength, he can’t see why I can’t run a marathon.

I’m in two minds about this.  Firstly, it is nice/good/validating to have my injury acknowledged. By the same token, to be told it’s not serious enough to receive any sort of treatment is tough.  I guess all I can do is continue to build my strength, maintain my weight and continue training.

It did also make me think that I need to manage how I work better.  I work a lot of hours including a lot of driving or sitting at my desk/in meetings.  I’m not good at taking a break while driving, usually because I’m so pressed for time to get to my destination.  When I’m in my office, I try and get up regularly (the printer is on the other side of the building) but can still find myself at my desk for hours on end.

I’ve spoken to my physio who suggested one of those back frame net things, a person at work (who was next to useless) but I’ll have to try someone else and see what they can suggest.  I’ll also have to change how I work.  Last week I drove 1500km and worked 33 hours on top of that driving.  That’s gotta stop!

My key thing is, for most of my life, I’ve asked my body to carry a ridiculous amount of weight.  And apart from my back issues in recent years, it did it.  Now I’ve lost that weight, I need to do everything I can to help my back work better and help me to achieve my fitness and lifestyle goals.

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