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Pain in the Neck: The Saga Continues

I never thought I’d spend so much of my retirement complaining about pain, whether in my neck, knee, or shoulders. It’s disheartening at times, especially when I find myself not wanting to do things that I normally would want to do because of anticipated or current pain. But, there we are. Or, rather, here I am.

I saw an orthopedist this week to discuss the results of my cervical MRI. We were already a bit stressed about the visit since the forecast called for stormy weather, and it was dark and rainy on our way over. His office was in a new building, on the other side of the intersection from the old building, where once stood a field and trees. We were greeted at the entrance and guided to a bank of kiosks where I could check in. The kiosk looked like a standing weight scale, but it was instead a dedicated tablet atop a slender white pole. It took me at least ten minutes to poke my way through all the questions, most of which I had already answered via their web form and text link a day before.

My guide assisted me with scanning my health insurance card and credit card and surprised me by thanking me for my patience. She was sincere. I could only think that my mask was not just a protection from germs but also from people hearing my sotto voce ranting about all the questions I’d had to answer.

I liked Dr. C and his staff. Efficient, professional, and friendly. Dr. C went through my MRI images with me, pointing out the bulging discs and stenosis. He confirmed that the weird “pull” I sometimes feel on the right side of my neck and up the side of my face is a nerve being pinched. It’s like when you’re wearing a seat belt and you start to lean forward but the seat belt catches and holds you back. That’s the sensation at the right side of my neck. Then it’s like tentacles going up to my ear, along my jaw. A dull achy feeling that’s aggravated when I talk. Thankfully, this is intermittent pain.

The good news is no one is talking about surgery. That is not recommended. Dr. C believes I can manage this with medication and exercises. Guess what he prescribed me: Gabapentin! Both Greg and I burst out laughing when he asked if I was familiar with the drug. “Yes, I give it to my cats.” I didn’t give him the whole history, but Maxine was the first to be prescribed Gabapentin for her arthritis. Then Raji was given a prescription to reduce his anxiety before vet visits. (I also give it to him when I need to dose him with Revolution or trim his claws. He’s a strong, squirrelly cat, and the Gabapentin makes him a bit more compliant … heh heh.)

What I wanted more than anything, though, was a shot. I’d been living with this “achy, breaky” neck for over four years. I want to experience being pain-free again, at least for a little while. Dr. C was fine with that. He can give me a shot, but he’ll have to do it with a real-time x-ray to make sure he’ll be injecting in the right place. He said I would be given a local anesthetic, but he needed me to be awake and still during the procedure. He asked if I had any anxiety about that. My face (sans mask) must have given me away because, without waiting for an answer, he said he would prescribe me Valium to take an hour before the procedure. Woo-hoo! Valium again!

You know, I am having second thoughts about this. Why am I really having this procedure done? Well, firstly, it won’t be until May 6. That’s the earliest available slot. Secondly, I’ve got the Gabapentin which I’m taking once a day (so far). Thirdly, I’m afraid of needles.

So, why? Because I’m curious. I want to know what it’s like to go through the experience. The first epidural that Greg had for his back was life-changing. He felt better than he had in years. The second epidural, not so much, although he would say it was because the PA, not the doctor, administered it. I can’t reverse arthritis in my neck. I can only learn to manage it. The procedure is two months away. I have plenty of time to get myself ready for it.

Some mundane news: I went to the bullet journal workshop and really enjoyed it. The presenter was an enthusiastic young woman who shared slides of her own journal. It’s a much more simple concept than I thought it would be. Take any journal (ruled, dotted, or blank). Ideally, your journal pages should be numbered (they are with the Leuchtturm1917 journal that I bought for the workshop). The first four pages are your index which, for me, will become the most important part of the journal. The index is a list of those events, tasks, or ideas, and their corresponding page numbers, that you are tracking in your journal. In the next two pages, you log future events by month, followed by two pages where you list each day of the month (e.g., March) and any scheduled events on one page and a list of tasks you want to accomplish in that month on the next page. After that, you have your daily log. Ideally, the night before, I would note what I want to accomplish the next day, but I’m still in “looking back” mode.

Anyway, just getting the journal set up for March has shown me how I overtask myself. I always want to do too much in too short of time. Every day I review my list of tasks for March and see what I can cross out as not doable or (more importantly) not necessary.

The bullet journal is very flexible. Because you create an index with page numbers, you can add anything anywhere in your journal and always find it through the index. The reason why I have so many half-filled journals is that I always felt I had to be linear, I had to live and write in a straight line. Well, life is sloppy. I’m sloppy. So, here’s to a new way of journaling.

More mundane news: This week (before and after the storms), we had 15 trees taken down. Now, we love trees, but these were very tall, spindly pines and water oaks. You know, the kind likely to come crashing down during a hurricane. One pine tree did come crashing down a few years ago during Hurricane Hermine. Fortunately, nobody and no property were hurt as the tree fell onto our fence. Still, it came down at night, just a few feet away from our bedroom. Greg remembers the CRACK and CRASH very well.

The trees were all clustered on one side of our house, which had been built on the site of an old cow pasture. The day before the storm, the arborists took down all but one tree. The last tree was deeper into our yard, and the bucket guy was going to have to climb the tree and cut through bit by bit.

The crane sat like this for a whole day until the weather cleared enough for them to safely get back to work. The pine is the tallest tree in the above photo. They cut it down to about 20 feet so it can have a new life as a woodpecker pole. The arborist told us anything shorter and the woodpeckers won’t come.

We were impressed with how fast and skillful the arborists were. They had taken away the pine that came down during Hermine, and so we were happy to get their services again. Although I had to wonder about them allowing a dog to be in the driver’s seat.

Thank you for reading and putting up with my moaning and groaning. Please know that despite my quotidian aggravations, I believe that just being alive–here and now–is a gift, especially since I share my life with these three:




Categories: life

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Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

25 replies

  1. Good luck with all meds and shot and pain(s). That is so funny about the Gabapentin. We used to give it to Mickey before he went for a vet appointment. 🤣

    That’s too bad about your trees, but I know it had to be done. So weird that the arborists brought a dog with them.

    I don’t think I quite understand the bullet journal, but whatever works for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Merril! I’m sure I didn’t explain the journal very well. With things like that, I’m more of a visual person, but I’m not ready to share my journal pages (if ever … 😉 ).

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I can see your blog as a journal since you share so much of your personal life (and movie recommendations) as well as your poetry and fiction writing. At least this way you don’t have dozens of half-filled journals cluttering your house … or maybe you do … lol 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie, I understand your moans and groans. I’ve been fighting pain since the late 1990s and continuously since 2016. I’ve had spinal fusions and shots and MRIs, CT scans, AND Gabapentin but I didn’t know it was for pain. It was prescribed for peripheral neuropathy, another frustration that at times can be painful. Everything you wrote was so real to me.

    We had three trees cut down just before the pandemic started, one because it was leaning against the house and its root system was lifting our front porch. The other two just to open up space for light and sun. We too were fortunate to employ good arborists and pleasant people to work with.

    I’ll be sending positive vibes, Marie, and hope you find relief using the gabapentin and can avoid the shot in May.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sherrey. I can’t imagine what you are going through (and have gone through). I expect I will have the shot in May. The problem with me and drugs is I am a “lightweight.” Even something as benign as ibuprofen can make me dopey. So far, the Gabapentin is not doing that (making me dopey), but still. I don’t like taking pills. It’s taken me years just to take vitamins every day 😉 Thank you for the positive vibes!


  3. Hope the Gaba helps until your shot, Marie. Putting up with pain a long time is the pits. I’m still in the phase of postponing a doctor visit because “it’s not that bad.” 😬

    Maybe the dog is fully licensed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heh heh about the dog being licensed. I just love that one of the guys brought his dog with him.

      The problem with postponing a doctor visit is that whatever the problem is, it could get worse. I also felt I should do something (like see a doctor) since I was complaining so much to Greg 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. After having my first disc rupture at 30 years old, I can relate, Marie. My father takes Gabapentin for his back and hip issues. He hasn’t had any luck with the shots. At my suggestion, getting on the floor with a mat seems to give him the most relief. Of course, at 83, getting up is a challenge. 🙂 When my back locks up on me, the floor always eases up the spasms. Chronic pain is never easy, but one thing it’s taught me is to never take our health for granted. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself. Now, as for the journaling…it’s never mundane in my book! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that you should check out the planner community on IG. I’m hooked! I’m glad to see you took down those trees. Yes, they are beautiful, but during hurricanes they can be deadly. Take care! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If your dad is like me, he has to roll over on all fours in order to get up off the floor 😉 It’ll be interesting to see if a shot helps. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I do think my pain is manageable. I just have some days worse than others. Thanks for the recommendation of the planner community on IG. I’ll check it out 🙂


  5. We who follow you are genuinely interested in your posts – filled with photos or newsy items or updates on health or your daily life/observations. So, not to worry about sounding ungrateful to be alive – we all get it.
    Take care

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope that your procedure goes beautifully and that you finally get a break from the pain you’ve been having!
    On a more positive note, I LOVE bullet journaling! It’s so much fun! I also think that your house is lovely and you have beautiful kitties 🥰❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I feel your pain… or some sort of pain, anyway as I have a hernia in my neck. It flares up now and again but I live with it and the restrictions it causes. I hope the meds help!
    I understand the mixed feelings about cutting down trees. I have one that I dearly want to remove but shall have to ask permission from the city. I’ll have to use the excuse that I want to widen my driveway. I still have three huge trees in the front so hopefully they won’t give me a hard time.
    Love the picture with the dog in the seat!! Must be the driver’s pooch that he takes everywhere with him 🙂 Kind of sweet, I say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A hernia in your neck! Suddenly, my pain doesn’t feel as bad … . Good luck with taking down the tree. We love trees, and it took my husband about ten years to follow through on having these removed. But it’s become a safety issue thanks to hurricanes. I loved seeing the dog in the driver’s seat. I tried to get a picture of him when he was looking right at me, but I wasn’t fast enough. I think I was laughing too hard 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. Fun stuff. It just leaves me with less flexibility on the regular but other than that, is endurable (except during flareups, of course).
        When safety is at stake, it shouldn’t even be an issue!
        It was a great shot!!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with so much pain. I do hope that the gabapentin is helpful for you. The epidural? I understand it works for some more than others. I found the first injection helpful both rounds I did it (many years apart) but then when the pain came back full strength, I found it even harder to deal with. Your results may be different.

    I’m glad the big tree did not squish your house.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah, that chronic pain. Ugh. Hope 5/6 helps you a lot!
    I had an issue with super tall cottonwood trees at my house in Red Lodge, MT. Came home one day and a massive one had fallen–strategically–between my house and the power lines. Phew. I had several trees taken down after that! Luckily, I lived in the woods, so they weren’t missed and allowed more sunshine in my home. Here’s hoping your tree removal did the trick!

    Liked by 1 person

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