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:
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.