May 19, 2011

this bump in my road

This is me most evenings. I lie on the floor with an ice pack under by back and my stim machine hooked up to whichever part of my leg/back is throbbing at that time. I repeatedly shock my muscles with the hope of lessening this constant pain that has controlled my life for far too long. 

A ruptured disc in my lower back has severely constricted the nerve bundle that runs from my spine, down my left leg, all the way to my foot. My most recent MRI has shown that I have degenerative disc disease which is hereditary (thanks Dad!). It means that the bottom three discs in my lower back have shrunk, herniated, and are leaking disc material which has settled onto my nerve, causing severe pain in my back, pelvis and leg. 

My battle with this chronic pain has been going on for 10 months now. Everyday. All day. Although I have dealt with back issues since I was 16, nothing compares to this emotional and physical roller coaster I have been on for the past year. I don't even know how to describe the pain that this injury has caused me. There have been times when I truly thought I would never walk again because I couldn't move my legs to get up off the floor. The pain has completely altered my lifestyle- making it impossible for me to sit for longer than 10 minutes at one time, preventing me from enjoying time with friends and family, and draining my overall energy. I have tried every therapy available: chiropractor, acupuncture, physical therapy, massage, and most recently, cortisone injections. Each time, I would dive optimistically and wholeheartedly into the new treatment which was promised to provide relief. Each time, I was left feeling disappointed and frustrated. 

Most of the time, I am able to push through the pain. I go on hikes and mountain bike rides with Keane, sit and have dinner with friends, and go to work like any other normal person my age. I choose to hold back my tears until I am alone or feeling particularly sorry for myself. But other times? I am angry because I am 25 and will likely battle this for the rest of my life. I am jealous of all the people who get to watch a movie in the theater or sit on an airplane without wanting to die from stabbing pain. I am concerned I won't be able to have kids because I can't see how I could possibly get them in and out of cars, lift them into cribs, or have the energy they require when my body simply refuses to work. 

I hesitate even putting these thoughts in writing because it makes them real. I try never to think negative thoughts because I believe what you focus on grows. So instead, I do my best to focus on health and wholeness. I affirm daily that I am strong and pain free- that my back is healed. And I will continue to say these affirmations and pray for recovery every day. 

I do, however, believe that I need to be realistic about my options at this point. I met with two Neurosurgeons in Colorado a few months back who both recommended I exhaust every possible therapy before considering back surgery since I am so young. Well, I have tried everything and I am done living like this. In June, I will have a back surgery. I am, again, optimistic. and scared. and excited to have my life back. My recovery will be long and I will give up much of the freedom I looked forward to here in Wyoming, as I will be bound to the couch for some time. But I am positive that I will regain both my body and my spirit and I will have grown from the lessons this process taught me. 

I ask for thoughts and prayers during this bump in my road. <3

and so it is...


  1. Kelly, how is the back and pain since your surgery?? I hope it is considerably better or gone! I too have dealt with chronic back pain since I was about 19. I have some compression in my S1, from a "lifting" injury when I was working retail. I have felt all the things you have too. Love you blog and miss you guys! When are you coming to Idaho? Hee hee!

  2. Hi Marie! Believe it or not, I still feel like I'm recovering from my surgery (7 months later...). I was frustrated when I didn't see improvements in the time frame the doctors said I would but I've come to realize that everyone's body is different and each person heals differently. It was really hard for me to be immobile for so long during recovery- this seemed to cause a new set of issues: my muscles atrophied, my alignment was terrible from over-compensating, my flexibility was gone, etc. But I finally feel like I've turned a corner, however small it may be. This might be something I always deal with so I'm just trying to live my life to the fullest, regardless of my condition.

    I didn't know you dealt with back pain! My heart truly goes out to anyone living with a chronic condition. I hope it's manageable. Thanks for the note! And we fell in LOVE with Idaho after driving through it this summer so a trip your direction might be sooner than you think! XOXO


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