Tag Archives: disability

Neck and Back Pain 101

I felt guilty for years after my four-surgeries-within-two-years for having constant pain. I thought I was supposed to be “fixed”. Yes, I was a nurse, but I was clueless about neurosurgery. I was a cardiology nurse. If I’d had a heart attack I’d have been giving my cardiologist suggestions during my stent placement. Seriously, I would have.

But I was nearly as uneducated as a non-medical person since it had been more than twenty years since I’d studied neuro-anything. So I trusted my docs. #mistake¬† Always ask for a second opinion for any surgery unless it’s an emergency. Here’s why:

This is an example of a ball the weight of an adult head held in place with a normal cervical (neck) curvature. Reach back right now and feel how much your neck curves between your shoulders and skull when you are looking straight ahead. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

That’s quite a curve, isn’t it? Kinda like this:

Not a perfect example, but probably accurate if you’re looking up at a kiddo on a swing. With a normal cervical spine. Not hard to hold that ball, right? A bit lighter than the lightest kids’ bowling ball. Move your hand around a bit and you could hold it in your hand all day, right? Especially if it’s permanently attached to your palm.

But here’s what it looks like when you have three vertebrae fused together with enough hardware to make an X-ray tech say, “Oh, wow!” (C4-C6, for me)

Do you see how difficult it is for me to even sit upright? Want me to walk and hold my neck like this with increases in pressure each time I take a step?

Consider this the next time someone tells you they have back or neck pain. I now have moderate scoliosis because the rest of my spine is trying to compensate for the rigidity of my neck.

What are the other co-morbidities of constant, chronic pain? Depression. Opiate use/addiction (I’ll address this in a later post), Isolation, Increased risk of suicide, Obesity (who can exercise?), and many other illnesses.

*HUGE thank-you to my chiropractor for the visual a couple of years ago, and for his staff member for posing for the pics last week! A picture truly IS worth a thousand words in this situation.*

Angie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad . . . Couple of Weeks

 

It’s kinda funny. I put this title in my Drafts box with a few reminders about a doc visit gone wrong when the car I’d borrowed died as I coasted into a parking space, but I couldn’t get the doors to open. I climbed out the driver’s side window (SUV, mind you) and ended up with enough road rash to impress a cycling enthusiast. I got cleaned and patched up by the office staff, had my visit, then called to ask my husband or son to come get me. I sat on a concrete floor against a wall, watching out the window of the office building, for two hours. It was a crappy day, but no one’s fault. That was months ago.

The last couple of weeks have been tough. Not even anything I can get my head around yet, but these are some of the quotes and images from Pinterest that I think explain it best.

(Many thanks to Mrs. Welches. Another of my Pinterest quotes is from her as well, as you’ll see). I need to hunt her down online and thank her for her words. They speak to my soul.

 

Yeah, I had dreams. Just plans, really. Nothing outrageous. But my body says, “No flippin’ way, lady!”

 

I’m fat because even sitting upright is painful. And my surgeon gets upset because I’m not getting all the protein I need. But I’m just really never hungry. (Except after seeing a DQ biscuits-and-gravy commercial – but I rarely watch TV). But I know for a fact people look at me and think, “fat.”

 

Yeah, I REALLY do.

 

I don’t even like me most of the time.

 

Sad, but true.

But my youngest is at the beach, putting his toes in the sand and having all the fun a 19yo can possibly have (with his best friend Adam and his family, of course!) and my eldest is awaiting the arrival of his second child, comfortable in the knowledge that Emma’s Grandma is there to take care of her (and grand-dog Tabby) when this baby boy decides to arrive. My boys are happy, and that’s no small thing. It’s a HUGE thing, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. The next couple of weeks are going to be wonderful!

 

Why Does a Stranger Get to Control My Life?

This is as close as I could find to a representation of my last disability hearing:

People who have applied for disability and not been approved at the two earlier stages end up with a hearing. There is a door at the back where the possibly-disabled and their attorney enter. The seats closest to them are where they sit, as if disability of any kind was contagious. There is a stenographer to my left on the square of tables, and a disability occupations adjudicator at the table to my attorney’s right. Directly in front of me is a dais. Once everyone is settled in the judge will enter from a door directly opposite the one I walked through. In his or her black robes, of course. My judge this time is male, and I suspect is the same judge I had last time.

So before a word has been spoken the stage is set. The judge, formally dressed, sitting higher than anyone else. The stenographer and adjudicator sitting close to, but lower than the judge and at an angle toward him. My attorney sits beside me. He doesn’t know me at all, even though we’ve been through a hearing together before and everyone insists he’s great. He was assigned to me by Allsup, a company I’ll be happy to pay since THEY jumped through all the hoops for me. If you need someone, call and mention my name. I think I should have frequent flyer points to share or something.They have a 97% success rate!

My judge has a documented 38%¬† approval on disability cases, which I found out yesterday. The adjudicator guy will do most of the talking. He’ll list all the jobs I could do full-time, since I clearly can’t return to Nursing. Pretty much I sit there and they talk about me between themselves. This time I’ll stand and tell my own story. No one in that room knows me or my family or what we’ve been through.

If they did they’d all give me gentle hugs, tell me I was in their prayers, and approve me for disability all the way back to the start date of 2009. My children, too, since my pain screwed up both of their lives, plus Michael’s. I don’t think they give compensation to spouses, but he deserves something for all he’s endured.

My hearing is Tuesday (the 14th) at 10 a.m. I would be incredibly thankful if my friends could pray for me, send some positive energy, or just think about me that morning, please. I’d appreciate it SO much! Even if I’ve been a bitch to you lately (as I have to most of those closest to me) just think back to the good times we’ve had and think fondly of me, even if it’s only a minute or two.

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