05 January 2009

A Back Story

In October I hurt my back carrying some fire logs. Long story. Anyway, I have had back problems for about 25 years. Usually minor. This time was different. After a month of it not getting better I went to the doctor. It was suggested I get an MRI -- which I did, and which you can see pictured.

Today, I got the results: I have stenosis of the L1 - L5 vertebrae. This basically means the disks between the vertebrae in my mid- to lower-back are squished. Look in the yellow box. You can see the black strips between the white vertebrae. Apparently, those black strips are thinner than they should be.

The doctor says my injury in October was not the cause of these squished disks; this was something that had been building up for many years, and the recent injury just sent it over the edge.

Now the choices: continue physical therapy which I have been doing for a month (and which has helped), get steroid injections in the spine somewhere (which is supposed to reduce the inflammation and help reduce the pain) or have surgery (which is totally unappealing to me).

When I was three or four, my dad had to have back surgery on a herniated disk (a more severe version of what I have). I remember screaming and wailing when the ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. He was there about a week, had a successful surgery and was basically fine the rest of his life. We visited him on Easter Sunday. I brought some eggs I had colored. My dad told me to give one of the eggs to the man in the bed next to him, which I did. Many years later I was talking to my dad about this episode and he said "Remember the guy you gave the egg to in the bed next to me? He died the next day."

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