Orange County Register — North County News-Tribune; Date: June 4, 2020; Section: News; Page Number: A2
WHAT A DAY
Canceled plans make space for other options
When the stay-at-home order came, I was sad about all my canceled plans, but happy that I got more time to stay home and write. From speaking events for my new book, to horse shows I wanted to attend, I was able to shrug it off and be thankful I wasn’t sick.
Admittedly, I wasn’t too sad about my dentist appointment being canceled.
As I was happily writing, my back decided it didn’t want to hang around the house. It wanted to visit the chiropractor’s office several times a week. Sometimes it wanted me to drive around the block just to enjoy the heated seats in my car.
After a few visits, my chiropractor and I decided we needed to get to the bottom of this, so to speak, with an MRI. I’ve had some kind of scan before, when the doctor wanted a nice picture of my gall bladder before he removed it. I confess, I was so drugged, I have a dim memory of falling asleep in a tube.
This time was different. We had just started the statewide lockdown, so I felt guilty driving up to the imaging center. I wanted to hang a sign on my car saying, “I swear this trip is essential!”
At least I wanted to write it on my face mask.
The scan went better than I thought it would. I’ve experienced claustrophobia before, and I’ve heard stories from friends of feeling trapped in the tube. The technician put me at ease, gave me headphones to listen to music, and I nearly fell asleep, without drugs this time.
When my chiropractor and my general practitioner saw the results, they both wondered how I was still walking. I had two bulging discs and severe stenosis, a term I can now toss around like I know what I’m talking about. My GP immediately recommended me to a pain management doctor.
I was wary of a doctor who manages pain. My constant nerve ache reminded me that this is how people become addicted to drugs.
The doctor and I had a phone consultation a few days later. He suggested epidural steroid injections, but not only did that sound painful, the word “steroid” sounded frightening.
“That seems like the nuclear option,” I told him.
It turns out, he has a good sense of humor and a willingness to work with his patients. I got a short treatment of low dose anti-inflammatory meds and a recommendation for physical therapy.
The therapy was a huge success. I learned ways to stretch and work my body that would make my back feel supported. Within a week, I was no longer walking like a 99-year old hunchback in the mornings—I was more like 85. By 3 weeks, I was back down to my own age.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t make me 30 again.
This week, my physical therapist and I agreed that I’d been so diligent about exercising, I could try this on my own.
As I drove home, I realized that I was happy to be finished with therapy. Being on lockdown may have canceled some of my life, but I’d somehow found other things to fill it up again and keep me from writing.
The county may be opening things up, but I’m in no hurry to get out and mingle. I hope my back understands.
Longtime Placentia resident Gayle Carline tracks those moments that shape her days as a wife, mom, computer whiz and horsewoman. E-mail her at [email protected].