Ten years ago, when I was just a youngster… ummmmmmm RIGHT! Well, let’s just say I was younger than I am today. I strongly believed that aging was no big deal. I couldn’t understand why people dreaded getting older, this never-ending search for the fountain of youth. Today… I understand. As I get older, the days are not necessarily getting brighter or lighter or easier or more relaxing or… geez, I’m depressing myself.
Let me help you understand what I am feeling, I’m sure it’s not that foreign to many of you. Over the course of the last decade I have lost family, friends, and bits of myself. My fear that I will lose more family and friends is greater now than ever before. I also fear losing myself. To clarify, losing my ability to do things on my own (not that I do that much on my own these days), but seriously… physically taking care of myself, my sanity, the everyday things that a lot of people take for granted. It’s pretty frightening.
I look back a year ago when I was walking miles daily and then I look at today when I can barely walk to the car. There is a reason for the change… let’s just say that I have been diagnosed with yet another flipping irreversible condition. Cervical Spinal Stenosis. Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s true, the hits keep coming! I have had two MRI’s in the past few weeks, 3 appointments with a Neurologist and the “what’s next?” question is heavy in the air in my house. Let me just say… a few weeks ago, I did not start my day saying… “I’m going to go in to ask my doctor, YET AGAIN, about the constant pain in my neck or the fact that I’m super weak.” We all know what happens when we do that… the “You have Fibromyalgia” card gets pulled out. I made an appointment with my primary care physician to check my tremor. It’s really been bothering me so I decided to re-confirm the diagnosis and look into treatment. I was quickly referred to the neurologist.
My appointment with the neurologist was one of the best appointments I have had in a long time. We started talking about my tremor and ended up going off into a completely different direction. This doctor spent an hour with me. An hour. That is almost unbelievable to me… and she’s a specialist doctor! I believe that she understood right away that I walked into her office as an informed patient. I knew what medications addressed Essential Tremor and I knew which ones I was willing to try and which ones I wasn’t (based on interactions with what I am already taking). As soon as she started to take a look at me, she did a bunch of strength tests on my arms, wrists, legs, ankles… had me stand up… asked me a ton of questions and did all the tests over again. That’s when she said she wanted me to go in for an MRI. She had read my medical history and noticed I had been diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease years ago and wanted to see what my spine looked like today. She wasn’t questioning my Fibromyalgia diagnosis but she felt like something else was going on to cause the weakness in my limbs.
To cut this story short… I went back, she showed me my MRI results and it’s not a great picture. That’s when she asked me to go back for another MRI, which by the way, have I told you how claustrophobic I am? Lord have mercy… I came out of the first one a complete wreck. Barely made it out of the room, walked halfway down the hall with my husband before the tears started rolling. The pain of laying on that damn MRI bed while it vibrated for 30 minutes… and let’s not even talk about the sounds or the fact that I was in a tight space (and I was in the large machine). Anywayyyyyy…. I fully prepared for the second one. I prayed for a full hour before we left the house. I took a little more than the prescribed dose of Ativan to help me relax, closed my eyes and prayed for the hour. You heard me… the HOUR I was in the machine this time. When it was all said and done, God was with me all the way and I made it through much better this time.
Anxious for my results, I had a call with the neurologist late Friday afternoon and she confirmed that the Degenerative Disc Disease has moved down the rest of my spine. That’s not surprising considering the constant pain. Given that diagnosis, I wasn’t so concerned, I’ve been living with this pain for so long. What I wasn’t really prepared for was her recommendation that I get surgery in my neck to address the Cervical Spinal Stenosis (which she said is also a form of arthritis, also known as bulging discs). I had done a lot of reading and I knew this was one of the potential outcomes. I just refused to go there in my mind. Well, as always “denial” never lets me get away with shit. I’m not saying I am having surgery, but I will keep an open mind. I’ll take surgery over paralysis any day. With the level of pain, weakness and numbness in my hands and feet… this is something I can’t ignore.
Next steps… well, I’m off to my next set of specialists. One to address the tremor, as now addressing it is important since the constant shaking (or in my case I do my best not to shake… I’m happy I can still use muscles to reduce the shaking so it’s not so visible… which leads to increased pain… don’t you love this vicious cycle!). The second referral is to the spine clinic where we will talk about whether or not surgery is the right option.
And… guess what’s decided to come back right now? Insomnia. THANK YOU! I mean… seriously? Is this absolutely necessary right now? (Pause for a moment) Of course it is! Anxiety, stress, nerves… this is what happens. This I should have control over. I am doing my best to give all this over to God, but … well, but nothing, I have no excuse, it’s a struggle.
So. My conclusion is aging is a b*tch. I was so blissfully ignorant all those years ago when I thought people were crazy to complain about getting older. And… it’s not that I want to relive any of those prior years. I’m all about going forward, it’s just I’d like to go forward with everyone I love in great health and with me forever. I’d like to age gracefully… not feel like my body is breaking down bit by bit.
And on that note… I think I’ll go attempt to sleep. Thank you so much for stopping by. I realize this wasn’t the most uplifting post… I hope with my next post I’ll have some better news to share. Remember tomorrow is not promised so make the most out of today. Spend time with your loved ones, laugh and remember what’s important in your life and make it a priority.
I hope you have a pain-free day!