I love how snow looks…from inside my house. But going out in it scares me. And I don’t talk about it much, but today I will.
For 10 years, I suffered through cycles of horrific nerve pain caused by a disc herniating and compressing a nerve root in my spine. I couldn’t take plane trips over 6 hours. I couldn’t sit for more than an hour straight. And those were the good times between the reherniations.
When it reherniated, I couldn’t sit. At all. Try spending six months laying on the floor, kneeling, and standing. Go into work and spend a 9-hour work day alternating between kneeling, standing and laying on the floor while doing your work.
Actually, just try to spend 1 day of your life avoiding sitting.
I spent years of my life in excruciating nerve pain that caused burning/tingling/numbness/stabbing pain in my right leg and foot. Needle jabs in the tips of my toes without a needle. Each herniation meant 6-9 months of crippling pain.
The worst part was that the pain always morphed. As soon as you had a handle on the numbness, it switched to burning. You could never block out the pain because it altered as the day went on.
This happened four times in my 20s. Talk about a life stopper.
Many nights, I couldn’t sleep because the nerve root in my spine was so inflamed it made the pain medication useless. For hours, I paced my apartment because walking was the only thing that made the pain a little easier to bear. Pain made my legs shaky and weak so I couldn’t go far.
Life sucked so bad a bus running me down would have been an act of kindness.
Until I found an amazing spine surgeon, Dr. Bitan, who offered me a chance at having my life back. An artificial disc to replace the flat, worn-out one in my spine. It was my last chance at a good life.
In November 2008, I had a 7-hour disc replacement surgery to implant an artificial disc in my back. They made the 6-inch incision down my stomach, moved the organs out of the way to get to the spine, scraped out the deteriorated disc, and positioned the new artificial disc there. Months of healing and physical therapy followed.
It took another 6-8 months to feel like my old self again. But I finally got my life back in June 2009.
I know a slip on ice in a parking lot or sidewalk can take that all away. A twisting of my spine or a fall and that artificial disc can be damaged or destroyed. And they can’t replace it. The next surgery requires bone grafting and fusion of the area. Loss of flexibility and faster deterioration of all the healthy discs. I don’t want that.
It also means a return to unrelenting pain.
I’m more cautious than most people. Because I know what the worst-case scenario feels like and will avoid it at all costs.
So if you ask me to come out in the snow, and I say no, respect that. Don’t treat me like I’m being a baby. Don’t tell me I can do it. I know my limits and there are certain risks I refuse to take.