This week’s column

Orange County Reg­is­ter — North County News-Tribune; Date: June 4, 2020; Sec­tion: News; Page Num­ber: A2

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].

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