Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I can't believe what my back xray showed

Photo by Michael Dorausch via Creative Commons. Text added.
The thing with training (and I'm using the term quite loosely) six days a week, is that any past injuries or niggling pains come out of the woodwork. Considering I've got a chronic pain disorder, it means my daily pain level has moved from whinge worthy to GIVE ME DRUGS worthy. It's being managed with strength training and Tramal  - ahhh, Tramal, I love you.

My mid back has been giving me the most grief since #GlowGetsFit started. It has bothered me for years. It feels like my spine isn't moving and my muscles are spasming. Last Saturday I was at friend's house for her 30th and by 9:30pm I sent MapGuy to the playroom to find a ball so I could get some relief. Everyone else was looking glam, and there I was, rolling a tennis ball between my back and a brick wall so that I could stay another hour.

After much deliberation and an embracing of my crunchy mama self, I booked in to see a Chiropractor. I've never been a fan of the profession, and have spent years and hundreds of dollars seeing physiotherapists and being loaded up with anti-inflammatories by GPs. I'm in such agony that I am willing to try anything.

Before my first treatment I was sent for xrays. Standing or sitting in one position kills me (never sit next to me on a plane if you can help it) so the process of getting them done and not being allowed to move almost brought me to tears.

Yesterday I got the results:

Query for Ankylosing Spondilitis. Big words for chronic inflammatory disease of the spine. Suspected because of the degeneration of my vertebrae. Apparently it has a large genetic component, and since my dad has it, I'm off for further tests.

Osteophytes. Big word for extra bone growth on my vertebrae. Also known as "parrot beaks". There are parrot beaks on my spine. Bwaarrk.

I thought that sounded bad, but then I was in for the shock of my life.

"Have you been in a car accident? A while ago?" he asked.

I thought back and remembered that I had actually been in a car vs bus crash. It was 1996 and my sports class was returning to school from swimming lessons. There were 30 of us crammed in to a 21 seat bus, meaning kids were in the aisles and my best friend and I, being the last to board, were on the steps. Totally sounds safe, right? Our teacher pulled out... smack, bang, straight in to a car traveling at 70km/h.

I was thrown against the doors of the bus and came back down, my mid back landing on the edge of the step, my head snapped back and hit the knee of a girl behind me, knocking me, momentarily, unconscious. I don't remember the impact, but my cuts and bruises told the story. All I remember was seeing a couple of blokes trying to force the bus doors open, and wondering why on earth were they doing that for. Ambulances turned up, a bunch of kids were loaded in to them and taken to hospitals around Perth. After a bit of poking and prodding, I was told I was fine, and sent home.

Bizarrely, the things I remember most about the crash is the blood on my stretcher from a small head wound, the cuts on my leg that were the exact shape of the door opening mechanism and my school skirt covered in grease from the door hinges.

"Yeah, almost 20 years ago... " I replied

"It's likely you had a vertebral wedge fracture."

Registering my blank look, he continued.

"At some point, you've broken your back. It's healed now, but this vertebrae is 7mm shorter on this side than the other."


That is INSANE!

He went on to explain that it's a compression fracture, and it could have been missed on initial xrays for a bunch of reasons, including if a scared 14 year old was crying a bit when they were being taken.

He let the news sink in and asked how I felt about that.

"I bloody told you it hurt!"

If I'm honest, I'm a bit pissed off that there is nothing much that can be done for the majority of the issues the xray showed, but at the same time, knowing there is a reason for my pain other than me just being weak and whingey, is actually reassuring. Hooray, I'm not (very) pathetic.

For the rest of the issues, like the wonky hips and stuff, I'm going to see a Chiropractor. I am scared and a little skeptical, but I'm so sick of this pain that I'd try almost anything right now to ease it.

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