The Continuing Adventures of a Herniated Disc

I’ve written thrice before (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3) about having been diagnosed a year and a half ago with a herniated disc (that’s an x-ray of my actual spine in the photo here, showing that my L5 vertebra has slipped forward and is making bone-to-bone contact with my sacrum), and I bring it up today partly as an excuse for the slowdown in new content here at Fish & Bicycles.

During my recent vacation, I noticed that my lower back was becoming increasingly stiff as the days passed. I wasn’t alarmed initially, given how much physical activity we engaged in — hiking, often carrying a heavy pack, boulder scrambling, jumping into cold rivers, sliding down a sandstone river bed on nothing but our butts, rafting down the Colorado River, and rock climbing — but toward the end of the trip it was getting increasingly difficult just to get in and out of our rental car.

Then, at our dinner on our last night there, I made a seemingly harmless twisting motion, reached for something that had fallen to the floor, and I experienced a piercing, sharp pain that took my breath away.

I made it through the rest of the trip without another pain incident, but this past Friday night I had one of the worst physical pain experiences of my life, and I would have ended up in the emergency room if my wife hadn’t found an old prescription of painkillers.

But painkillers only last so long, they make me feel all kinds of crappy, and so I’m back to getting seen by doctors and chiropractors, with physical therapy and massage therapy likely to follow.

All I want is to be pain-free. Stiffness and a need to stay off my bicycle for a while, that I can handle. Usually the rest works, but this time it’s not helping.

With all the bed rest I’ve had since Friday, you’d think there’d be more new posts here than ever. But, what really happens is that I’m too drowsy from the drugs or it’s too comfortable to be in any kind of position that would allow me to type, and so it will be for a while longer.

How long? I have no idea.

Stay tuned…

18 thoughts on “The Continuing Adventures of a Herniated Disc

    1. I know, Cyndi.

      Once the acute pain stops, I will give the core strengthening regime another try. I’m going to try and figure out a way that Julian and I can do our ab work together, to push each other and not allow each other to slack off.

      I need to figure out a way to make a game of it, to make it fun, for both of us.

  1. Sorry to hear about it… I bruised/cracked a couple of ribs a few years ago and it took a long time to heal, but the pain when sneezing, coughing or reaching for something was immense… I can only imagine what you must be going through.

    Just pace yourself. Embrace the good days and take it easy on the bad ones. You’ll get through this!

  2. Had the same injury several years ago, L5-S1 right?. Took forever to heal and the only thing that relieved the pain other than narcotics was hanging upside down on an inversion table. Before I discovered the table I would go to the kids playground and hang upside down on the jungle gym. Reversing gravity was a beautiful thing, but sometimes it was difficult to get down and back onto my feet. Hope you find some relief.

    1. Hmmmm. Inversion. I’ve heard that can help.

      I always find that it’s REALLY uncomfortable having all the blood rush to my head when I’ve done head stands and anything upside down.

      I’ll see if I can figure out a way to give it a try. Thanks!

  3. Get well soon, atke all the rest you need, and don’t worry about us readers. We’ll be happy to wait till you’re back in good health:

  4. I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a disc issue. 2 years ago I went through the same thing but had to have surgery because it was so bad. For the last year I’ve had back pain on a daily basis, but since the disc isn’t bulging, there’s nothing to really do other than have a raisotomy, which is where they burn out the nerve to end the pain. Now my wife is going through it too, having just had her second epidural. Good luck. I know how miserable it is to go through what you’re experiencing.

    1. Hi Scott! Thanks for your words of support and understanding. Seems like I hear more stories about surgery gone wrong than the other way around, but the one’s who say it worked are so enticing. One friend who had spinal surgery is now running half-marathons!

      Nice to hear from you and hope you and Eileen get some relief from these spinal issues.

  5. Ooouch! I can only continue to recommend surgery, it helped me – really! Though it took a while, I now can celebrate life without pain killers. Additionally, my tail bone was removed as you know, and now I can also sit normally. No low back pain, no sitting pain. Life is fabulous! Take care, hop you get the help you need and deserve.

    1. Hi Gretel! Nice to hear from you again, thanks for the kind words, and I’m so glad to hear how well things have turned out for you.

      Funny how, in the comment right above yours, I mentioned that I hear more stories of surgeries that didn’t work or that made things worse, than stories that went the other way around, and yours is one of the stories with a happy ending.

      It’s been nearly three weeks of pain now, and the rest and massage therapy isn’t working.

      Of course, I haven’t been resting completely. Worse, every time I think I’m up to it I get too ambitious and take off on a hike or do more work around the house than I should and make things worse again.

      It’s REALLY hard for me to be inactive in general, but then the impact this has just during my day-to-day life, how my wife ends up picking up the slack and getting overwhelmed, really sucks!

      1. You seem a lot more active than average, and it sure isn’t fair that you should be forced to inactivity because of something that should be fixable. I do recognise the feeling of guilt – that something you do cause more pain – but it really isn’t your fault! I guess sometimes these pains can be treated with massage or some kind of training, but I feel pretty sure mine couldn’t have been. I am ever so grateful to my surgeon, who also discovered the loose tail bone.

        Again, I wish you the best. In my experience, one should never give up. Help is available out there!

    1. Thanks, Tom.

      I tell ya one thing, my original post on this subject lamented how the injury was particularly badly timed, during ski season, but having this recur during summer is a MILLION times worse!

      I want to be out in that warm weather and sunshine, on my bicycle, on the trail, paddling on the water SO badly, and it’s maddening and depressing being kept from all that.

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