No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

January 24. Friday.

Pain 4
Mobility 6

That is the thing about life, nothing is ever as straightforward as you wish it were, and despite your best efforts, something will always trip you up in the end. Maybe it is just to keep us on our toes, maybe it is because we as humans are intrinsically flawed and therefore our lives are modelled after that but whatever it is, I was a victim of it this week.

It started off on Saturday as I went to sit down, the old familiar pain shot through my back, causing a great deal of initial surprise, and then an overwhelming tidal wave of anger. The pain was identical to the event pain I experienced whenever the herniated disc failed. Needless to say, this was a feeling I was hoping was a mere memory at this point. I stumbled to the couch and in-between breathing fits, spitting with anger and loathing and the odd bout of overwhelming self-pity I medicated myself and hoped for the best. The next day was surprisingly better. I was due to go to the physio and after a short discussion with her, she informed me that what had happened was a slight tear of the scar tissue that was forming which had in turn impacted the nerve, causing that all too familiar pain. I was eager to take her at her word and after some traction and some ultrasound treatments I went home feeling much more comforted and a little more confident.

The following day I was feeling much better, back on the road to full recovery or so I though. On the direction of my surgeon, I was trying to walk as much as possible and so I went to the store (about 100 meters down the street) and back without incident. However, the next day, which was now 3 days ago, I was suddenly unable to stand once again. I had gone from someone who had the appearance of magnificent recovery to the picture of pain and immobility. The pain this time was the feeling of having pulled a muscle in my back. The pain was not localized to the herniation site, but rather was from my mid back to my buttock on the right side. The result was an almost complete immobility of the lower back. This meant I was resigned to having to use my cane and several movements just to stand and the act had to be accomplished without any flexion of the back at all. This in itself is quite a feat, and anyone who has ever seen a VERY pregnant woman trying to stand from a low chair can imagine how I looked.

Discouraged is the penguin sitting atop the tip of the iceberg at this point. However, I was confident that the feeling was indeed muscular in nature and was most likely the result of an odd flex or compression while walking the day before. I was due back at the physio that day so I thought I would wait it out and see how I felt once I got there. Ha… not going to happen as they say. I was forced to cancel, not only because it was -20 and -35 with the wind chill, but also because there was no way I was going to be able to sit in my vehicle again. Was this back to square 1? That, indeed, was the question of the day. Call it blind faith, call it naïveté if you like, but I was almost sure that what I was experiencing was not in the order of magnitude that would require me taking any more drastic action than rest and medication. So, I once more chose the path of least activity and restricted myself to bed rest and chemicals while images of prosthetic discs and a second surgery bubbled slightly beneath the surface of my consciousness

As I awoke the next day, Thursday, I was pleased to find that the pain was reduced, the mobility was increased and most importantly that the pain was in the same place it had been the day before. I know by now that the most dangerous thing is when the pain starts to move around on me, and since it was a lesser degree of the same immobility, the light at the end of the tunnel once again beckoned me forth.

So I awoke this morning at 3:15 as usual, waiting for the Grocery Gateway guy to arrive between 6 and 7:30 roughly at the same place pain wise as I was just over a week ago. Although there is discomfort, there is no real pain to speak of, and although my mobility is still seriously lacking, I am able to once again reach my entire body while showering (there is a mental picture you won’t be able to banish for a while!)

These past few days have been critical in the judgment of my condition. I have learned that despite the surgery, that incandescent pain I feel on herniation may in fact not be gone forever as I had hoped. I also learned that the pain that followed was in fact muscular in nature, and that this description will help me to recognize that specific pain and to treat it with muscle relaxants, not anti-inflammatories.

There is one other thing too. Yesterday my cousin Kim turned 18. This is significant in so many ways for her, having recently found a decent chap to date, finally doing well in school and listing goals and ambitions as commonly as she used to list snowboarding tricks that she had learned behind the clubhouse with her pals. This age for Kim is significant I believe because she is finally starting to realize just what she is capable of achieving. I have not seen her in quite a while, but the brief talk I had with her a few weeks ago before my surgery revealed a much more mature and sensible young lady than I have ever seen before. 18 is a great age for so many people, I remember it was the time when I finally got a grasp on who it was I wanted to become, having been placed in boarding school and needing to fend for myself for the first time. But more than this age revealing her true character, I think it signifies something much more important, and that is the development into the woman we all believed for so long was hiding deep inside there somewhere. It is always fun to see kids grow up and change, but when it is someone so close to you and with so little experience as I have had, it is extra special to see her ready to take on the world. So Happy Birthday Kim, my little cousin, my 6′ tall 18 year old cousin, and although it is sad to see that little girl go, it is just as exciting to see the mature intelligent woman we all expected reveal herself to us at last.