Type ‘A’ personalities and bulging disks in the neck. Not a good combination

Well, you’ve probably noticed that the amount of blogpost’s and video’s have decreased in the last little while on the healthy tech talk website. It’s because I did something to my neck and was in excruciating pain. My family doctor took one look at me a few weeks ago and told me to go directly to the emergency ward of the local hospital where I could get some immediate action. He said that if he ordered a CAT scan through his office, it could take several months, and if I went to emergency, I may have a chance of speeding up the timeline by quite a bit, and it turns out he was right.

The attending physician was very professional and thorough. He told me that he had an acquaintance that demonstrated very similar symptoms. He saw how much distress I was in, and ordered me to have a CAT scan for the following day. (I like my family doctor, he knows how to expedite things) Anyway, I got back the results of the CAT scan and here they are. Two bulging disks and a protrusion in my neck that is pressing on some nerves. Now, the reason I am sharing this information with you is this. Our healthy tech talk space on the web is designed to help computer users deal with their immediate workplace environments that may be a hindrance to their day. For example, I have had my reflexology instructor on the show talking about stress. What causes it, how we physically, emotionally and mentally deal with it, and how we process that language to the world around us. It was great to have Yvette on, and she gave some really fantastic insights as to why stress comes to visit us in so many different and wonderful ways.

Keeping that interview in mind, I thought my present situation would be a wonderful experience to blog about, and share with you just what happens to a computer user (me) who loves to talk, write, blog, podcast and discuss technology, combined with the use of holistic health concepts, while they are going through a very challenging physical aspect of their life. I am about to give you glimpses of the last two pain filled weeks, as I attempted to unsuccessfully work through the pain, finally throwing in the towel and admitting that I needed some help from the medical community. So, this story will have a ‘beginning’ (pain that I went through that I could not control) to ‘middle’(pain management and stabilization) to ‘end’ (rehabilitation, recovery and a return to normalcy)

When my wife and I were in the Doctor’s office yesterday and he handed me the results for the CAT scan, I glanced down at the bottom, and the only thing that made any sense in plain English said something about 2 bulging disk, and 1 disk with a protrusion that is pressing on some nerves. I said to the Doctor, ‘well, would this explain the unbelievable amount of pain I am going through?’, and he said ‘oh yes. As a matter of fact, nerve pain can be one of the worst pains you can get because its hard to control’. We have now increased the amount of pain medication by 300%, and while I am still in considerable discomfort and pain, it has now given me some hope, because for the last 2 weeks my life has been one continual roller coaster ride of incredible pain, one after another.

Simple activities like (oh, I don’t know, walking across the room) have to be planned with great care and consideration weighing the balance between a 30 second movement and the inevitable 4 or 5 hours suffering spell that is certain to visit me. Being a type ‘A’ personality doesn’t help either because I am used to establishing a whirlwind set of activities from the minute I get up, to the time my head hits the pillow. Now, I have to mentally play out a scene in my head of: thinking about getting up and getting a glass of water, or going thirsty. In almost all cases, I end up dehydrated because its not worth the effort.

Here are a few of the weird things I am experiencing:

* Night time is long, dark and, well, just long and dark. The head is attached to the neck right? The neck rests on a pillow when you go to bed correct? No. There is no rest when you’ve got neck pain. Even without a pillow you will not find rest in any position because it seems that when I am in a horizontal position, there are either one of two things happening. One, the pillow is pushing on the neck causing no sleep, or, two, the lack of a pillow puts tension on the neck because there is no support, which may or may not be desirable at the time.

* Burning sensations from the back of the neck, down to the middle, then branching across the right shoulder blade, all the way through the right arm, going between the two bones at the elbow, tracing down to the little finger. And, gripping strength in my right arm is at about 50% of what it used to be. If you want an indication of what this type of pain feels like, go down to Walmart and buy 6 pairs of Vicegrips (you know, the adjustable wrenches that can lock onto any type of nut), then put the first one on the back of your neck, right where the neck joins the skull and close the wrench until the pain is so bad you think your about to lose your mind) then, do the same with the remaining 5 Visegrips, and there you have it.

* Twitching, jumping, jerking and spasms. (Sounds like a Jerry Lewis song) You would think that if strange things are happening to me on my right side, then they would stay pretty well isolated to my right side, right? Ohhhh noooo. Toes on my left foot are actually trying to play the piano. At least, that’s what it looks and feels like when I lay down on the bed. Then, the face starts in with tiny little micro-twitches that last most of the night. Rolling over in bed brings with it an entirely new adventure in twitchability. And let’s not forget about the constant itching. Yep, that’s my night, until I jerk and twitch myself out of bed completely exhausted. What fun!

* I have found through experimentation that if I put a heating pad on my upper back and right hand side of my neck it offers a tiny bit of relief, but it takes quite a while the that process to kick in. Something weird has started to happen in the last couple of days, and that is this. As I am laying down on the reclining love seat, I will think to myself ‘wow, that heating pad is great, its a small victory, but, I’ll take anything that I can get right about now, and then the weird thing happens. I go to check the heating pad, and realize that I don’t have it on, and that it is nowhere near me. In other words, the amount of heat that is coming out of the right side of my neck and back is actually mimicking the heat that was being produced by the heating pad. Interesting indeed.

* Fatigue that comes out of nowhere. I’ll be attempting to focus on something in my recliner when all of a sudden a wave of  ’oh my gosh I have to close my eyes and rest’ sweeps over me. It happens so quickly that I have mere seconds to react (which in my case means admitting I’m going to drift off for a bit, and just let it run its course) Then, after you wake up and realize that you nodded off, you wonder how much time has passed by continually looking at the clock on the fireplace mantle, and asking your wife, ‘Honey, what day is it?’ because the days just blend together.

* Moving to the reclining loveseat in the morning I manage to eat a bowl of cereal, (which makes my jaw ache) and every once in awhile both left and right hands will suddenly jump, for no reason at all. And now that the Doctor has increased my pain medication, I spend the day fairly ‘fuzzy headed’, and a little disconnected from reality. But…..we need to adapt in order to function, and at the same time keep in mind that inside the situation of pain and suffering is a unique opportunity to learn how to tell a story in order to help someone else. It’s a great idea because not only does it give me something very positive to focus on, it combines an activity that I love to do, which is blogging. I can do blogging from my recliner, not easily mind you, but its possible.

Let’s talk about the electronic gadgets I use to get me through the day and night.

Notebook computer resting on the lap, with a notebook cooler underneath it of course. If you look down your glasses far enough, you can find a position (notice I did not say a comfortable position, just a position) where you can get caught up on the latest news and happenings that are important to you. I call this kind of web indulgence ‘free style’ surfing because you can use Google or YouTube to find information your looking for. If or when the notebook gets too heavy, or its positioning gets a little much, I switch over to my beautiful super duper Smartphone, a Motorola Atrix 4G Android device. The Atrix is truly a godsend, in that it not only runs my favorite mobile operating system, I can even control my TV with the phone. (Jealous? don’t be, just go get an Android) Anyway, the Android marketplace has some of the most incredible news readers on the planet. I have 8 technical readers, and one news reader in particular that is gorgeous. Check out News360. I can spend hours doing research with the Atrix because its very easy to hold in your hand, and its extremely light. The technical RSS news readers specifically target what I am looking for, and with just one quick flick of a finger, I can email a relevant article to myself for review and inclusion into one of my shows.

So, between the Toshiba notebook PC and my Atrix, I’ve got research pretty well covered. These are the two devices I use during the daytime hours. When I see the sun setting over the horizon, I make sure that my Apple Itouch is fully charged up because that little device goes to bed with me. There are a variety shows I can watch and listen to. I love to listen to audio books, and with the Apple Itouch I can either download a book from Audible, or live stream one of my favorite technical shows TWIT with Leo Laporte. If there’s nothing going on with Audible or TWIT, I can always watch one of the thousands of movies, TV shows or documentaries on Netflix. The other night I watched one of the latest Star Trek movies. It was excellent.

To say that I have integrated technology gadgets into my life would be a correct assumption. Without them, I would be in pretty rough shape. It has come to my attention that through this injury, I have had to make changes to my type A personality. Well, we’re never too old to learn some new tricks. Instead of living ‘externally’ and being able to move freely about physically, I have just adapted and learned to live a little bit more ‘internally’ (not moving much because of my situation) In the next little while, I will document what I am going through so you know that I haven’t ‘kicked the bucket’. Well, its time for my pain medication. I will yak at you later. Rick

Leave a Reply