Protruding disc: The gangsta lean of my spine + ‘The Whole Of The Moon’

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It sure has been a long time since I posted. So much has happened since Kristi and I returned from Texas in early March.

The coronavirus pandemic became what it is today right about then, and it took hold as a matter of public consciousness mostly after an Oklahoma City Thunder game that was stopped before it started. An NBA player had COVID-19. Soon, leagues were suspended. Then schools were closed. And businesses.

It was like the news world was again revolving around Oklahoma. It has before.

And then it soon revolved around New York City. It has before.

What else? Working from home. Zoom. Microsoft Teams. Wearing masks. Unimaginable tragedies at hospitals all across the country, and nursing homes. Medical heroes everywhere. Supply-chain heroes, too, from truckers to retail employees. My first job was as a grocery store clerk, and I loved that job. Roger’s IGA in Henryetta, Okla., from 1986-88. It’s important work; risky these days to boot.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

I’m writing because I have some hope with regard to back issues that have plagued me since late October. It’s been a half-year already and several weeks since I wrote about my diagnosed herniated, bulging, protruding L5S1 disc.

Which is it?

Long-story short: An MRI detected a protruding disc at L5S1, and two lumbar steroid shots later, I’m in as bad a pain as I’ve had. I’m never sure whether I’m really weathering brutal pain or simply a wimp. To me, it feels like a constant ‘5’ with periods of ‘8’ or ‘9’. To me, it does.

It’s not childbirth, but it’s also not reasonable that I should have to “live with it.”

I finally reached out to the chiropractor who helped my wife and I through a t-bone car accident in Nov. 2018. Felt a bit like the prodigal son in that I had left home base after treatments in March 2019 because “I felt better.”

The doc’s reaction after seeing my back today: “What happened?”

It was like I had been in another car wreck, except much worse. She definitely called it trauma. And for me it was significantly worse than anything I had suffered in our wreck. By March 2019, I was feeling good — running, active, busy.

Maintenance, who needs maintenance?

By October, I was training for another half-marathon that wouldn’t have happened anyway given the COVID-19 situation. I decided to visit another chiropractor for maintenance work, to keep my gait straight while pounding the pavement for 10-15 miles every week. What interested me most was what this chiropractor’s approach might be, different from the one who worked with me after the car wreck.

Well, it was like a second wreck, as in he wrecked my spine. I recall the Monday night in late October when my back was no longer the same. You often ache a little bit after an adjustment, and the patient compensates by drinking a boatload of water. But this pain never went away, and it got worse.

Then I asked my sister-in-law to give it a look. She’s a chiropractor as well.

Then I got an MRI. And visited an orthopedic consultant before getting two steroid shots.

A lot has happened over the course of six months!

But what they never looked at was the entirety of the situation. They focused on the disc. And now I’m realizing that the disc was hardly the primary issue, lol. Check this shit out:

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That’s my spine after our car wreck in 2018. We got t-boned at 40 mph.

This is my spine six months after visiting the guy who described himself as an “old school bone cruncher.”

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What in the hell is that?

I was shocked when the doc showed me this. She asked me what happened? This isn’t degeneration. This is trauma. But seeing this made me feel a ton better, especially since upon the failing of two steroid shots, I feared I’d ultimately need surgery for the disc issue.

The disc is *a* problem.

It is clearly not *the* problem.

And that brings me to the second part of my headline, “The Whole Of The Moon.” It’s a wonderful 1980s song by a Scottish group called The Waterboys. It’s been covered many times, including a valiant effort from Mandy Moore (whose version I actually prefer). The line at play is:

I saw the crescent / you saw the whole of the moon

We often attack projects and problems at the visible source. The pipe is leaking: fix the pipe. We’re not making enough money selling Product A: raise the price and sell more.

The issue is often much bigger and broader.

It sucks that my spine is currently the leaning tower of northwest Oklahoma City. But it’s super reassuring to know that, almost certainly, we’ve identified the real problem.

Onward.

In case you’re curious as to what first steps were for my situation, should you be in the same: the doc had me sit with electrodes on my back for 20 minutes. We did a slight adjustment in the upper-middle of the back and neck, but she focused a lot on spine lengthening (my words, not clinical terms I don’t think) — and she said she is going to focus mostly on one side of my spine.

Can I go for a walk? Hell, yes. Motion is lotion.

Can I go for a jog? Maybe in a few weeks.

But can I go for a run? That’s probably not happening for 6 to 12 months, the doc told me.

But will I be able to? Eventually??

Yes.

Now that we know what the actual problem is.

The spine is not supposed to do that.

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