I’ll put my armor on…
I’ll put my armor on…
The sidewalk opened up, swallowing my hopes and dreams, as the night’s heavy arm strangled my desires.
For the past two years, Saturday mornings have been reserved for my dissertation. I pack up my books and head to the local library to immerse myself in research. But today something different happened. When I logged into the internet, instead of searching for more articles related to my dissertation topic, I found myself googling “schwannoma” – “neurofibroma” – “spinal cord tumor”.
Soon I found myself lost in a labyrinth of information about this thing that is taking over my life. I’ve read stories of people who have had the surgery and come out on the other side satisfied with the results, but I have also read stories that scare me. Stories of people who now realize the rest of their lives will be dictated by pain. Stories of limitations and loss. Stories of good doctors and bad doctors. So much to process. So many decisions to make. I read and read, but the big questions remain. How long will it take for me to recover? How much will this impact my job? My dissertation? My marriage? And I’ll be honest, it is hard to be optimistic and hopeful.
I didn’t recognize the Jabberwocky immediately when he returned. There were big changes happening at work, and in addition to accepting a new position with much more responsibility, I was enrolled in a doctoral program as a full-time student. To say that I was busy is an understatement. I knew that I was tired all the time. I also knew that I was having back pain on and off – but the pain was minor compared to what I experienced with my migraines.
I easily ignored it at first. But with time, I started getting up from my desk more often to stretch. When I bought a new car with seat warmers, I found myself using them all the time. And I was complaining incessantly about uncomfortable chairs. There were even days when I sat on the floor during class because the seats were causing me too much discomfort. But still, the level of pain was not even close to what I’d experienced with the migraines, so it barely registered in my mind.
With the new year, I made a commitment to exercise more. I got a membership at a local gym, and I started working out a couple of nights each week. The gym had a pool, so after about a month of walking the track, I decided to give swimming a try. Two weeks passed, and I started to notice a tightness in my back. I mentioned it to my massage therapist, and she told me that it might be from muscle fatigue. She tried to release the tension, but the attention she was giving to my lower back produced more pain. When I left that session, I thought she might have somehow forced something out of alignment. Unfortunately, I waited for the pain to subside – but it didn’t.
The next week, after swimming two laps, the pain was more than I could handle. I was halfway across the pool, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it to the wall. I did make it, and I tried to stretch. I thought it was a muscle cramp. Stretching didn’t help. I attempted another lap, but I had the same result.
Convinced that I had injured myself, I went to the doctor. He, in turn, sent me to physical therapy. After working with me for a few weeks, the PT told me that we really needed images. He thought some of my symptoms pointed towards a schwannoma, but those were rare and to be honest, I wasn’t suffering from some of the tale tell symptoms.
The MRI was ordered, and I really thought we would find out that I had a pinched nerve – probably from something that had slipped out of alignment. But it wasn’t going to be that simple. It was going to be something called a schwannoma… there was that word again.
I went home and tried to google it. I wanted every bit of information I could find. So I suppose this blog is going to become a way for me to sort and process the information that I find in a way that can help me make the very important decisions that I am going to have to make in the coming weeks regarding treatment.
So today is one of those days when I’m tempted to log into facebook and proclaim to the world that I have a headache. I don’t know why people feel that they need to alert all of their facebook friends when they have a headache! You don’t see people posting about other physical ailments! But I often see people posting about headaches. I wonder why that is?
Well, since I do have a headache today, I’ll have to wait and ponder that one another day. For now I just thought I would say that I have decided that part of my new attempt to not let the pain define me, is my decision to stop posting about my headaches on facebook. I will write about them here, and the people who are interested in knowing how I’m doing in my battle against them can come here to see how I’m doing, but the world at large, well, I’ll let them off the hook.
Right now, how I am doing is not so great. I knew it was coming. All day yesterday I was having visual auras. I took my meds and hoped that I would be able to skirt past the beast, but when I woke this morning with a drooping eye, I knew my efforts had been in vain.
What now? Well, I will retreat from the world and hope that I can find relief. Oh, and I need to remember to log my headache in so I have info to give my doctor. I’m using an app that I found:
Do you have any other apps or tools that you use to track your headaches?