Thursday 26 July 2012

Health: Hope truly springs eternal

This past Saturday, I decide to go to the movies. The theatre is merely six blocks away so it's not like I have a long way to walk. Yes, walking is difficult for me but six blocks shouldn't break me. As a reminder, the difficulty in walking is not because I have a problem with my legs or something, it seems that walking puts stress on my upper body which in turn tenses my neck and causes my herniated cervical disc to push against my C6 nerve and send referred pain through my shoulder and down my left arm. Sometimes it's bearable and sometimes it can be excruciating.

Just in case, I decide to take one 75 mg capsule of pregabalin, a pain reliever one doctor said is the best thing for the neurological pain caused by pinched nerves.

I manage to sit through half of the movie. My pain just keeps going up to the point where I can't ignore it and I can no longer concentrate on the film. I go to the washroom and am about to leave the theatre when I think to try one last time. I go back into the theatre but stand off to one side. When this happens at home, I stand up and pace although at home I have access to cold packs and can calm things down a bit by icing my neck.

After a few minutes, I realise this isn't cutting it so I leave. Well, there goes the price of full admission but at least it's the afternoon so the price is discounted.

Surprising enough, getting outside and walking home sort of calms down my pain. Yes I have the usual shooting pain in my left forearm, but the general achy pain which I get in my shoulder and arm diminishes. Go figure.

Here it is not two days later and I'm sitting in my apartment typing this at 10pm. I have walked to work and walked home, a distance of six blocks each way. While at work, I managed to walk two blocks to the store and back. I have not taken any pain medication all day. That doesn't mean I haven't felt pain; I just managed to put up with it and not take anything. However, I did go to work prepared by putting three 75 mg capsules of pregabalin in my pocket just in case. I actually feel a little proud I managed to get through the day without taking any drugs. I have been worried about this on-going health issue and the number of times I've had to indulge. I'd say I've taken more pain medication in the past four months than in my entire life combined. That can't be good for the liver and kidneys.

So, here I am feeling pretty good about today and myself and what bizarre thought flitted through my head? Maybe, just maybe I'm getting better.

Let me be objective. For my rotator cuff injury, my reading has led me to believe I'm looking at six months to a year. Fine. I can deal with that. My problem, my really really big huge honking problem is the herniated cervical disc impinging my C6 nerve in my neck. That I would say hasn't improved my iota and is an on-going source of discomfort, pain, and agony. My pinched nerve is the wild card. I am confident that everything else will heal over time and with physiotherapy and my own exercising, I should be able to regain my previous level of physical fitness. However, a herniated disc may heal and it may not. I have read estimates of "40% of the time herniated cervical discs heal on their own" to 90% of the time but what is the case for my particular herniated disc? After talking with my family doctor, a sports medicine specialist, a neurologist and a kinesiologist, I don't think anybody knows one way or another with any certainty. However as I arrive at the four month mark from my accident, I can't say that I objectively see a difference.

Nevertheless, still I hope. I sit here typing away and think, "Hey. My pain isn't excruciating. Maybe I'm getting better." Or I may think, "Gosh, I haven't said the word f**k out loud in over 15 minutes. Maybe I'm getting better." It's at this point you're allowed to say, "Oh boy, he's finally flipped."

No, it's just a question of that hope thingy springing once again. Isn't it just inexhaustible? No matter how dark and gloomy it is, there's hope forever encouraging us to carry on. Of course, what's the alternative? Roll over and die?

Final Word
I'm finding that pain tempers my expectations. I watch somebody go jogging by me and I'm pissed I can't jog (Hell! I can barely walk!) but I am nonetheless grateful I'm not in agony. Pain turns into something of an avoidance game. Please don't make me suffer pain and I won't get pissed off at not being able to jog; I will be happy just to sit in a chair.

Yes, my expectations are now tempered. I previously wrote that I had thought about taking a trip to China this year but that idea is completely off the table due to this health issue. Now I would be ecstatic to go for a pain-free walk around the block never mind walking on the Great Wall of China.

Hope springs eternal. It's tempered but it's still there. Praise the lord and pass the drugs.


Wikipedia: Hope Springs Eternal
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

Wikipedia: An Essay on Man
An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1734. It is a rationalistic effort to use philosophy in order to "vindicate the ways of God to man" (l.16), a variation of John Milton's claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will "justify the ways of God to men" (1.26). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God's purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the Great Chain of Being (ll.33-34) and must accept that "Whatever IS, is RIGHT" (l.292), a theme that would be satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759). More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.


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