I'm going to an chiropractor that specializes in exercise mechanics and structural anatomy to figure out what I can and cannot do in terms of exercise. Last week we met and discussed my injuries, my treatments, my history... all of it. I got very emotional. I mean, it's hard to really think I've been dealing with this for 13 years or so and still hurt.
He asked me what my goals were. I said "to be able to sleep comfortably. To be able to sit comfortably. To be able to walk longer than 30 minutes without hurting." I think he was surprised that I didn't say something a bit more extravagant than that, but seriously if I could lie in a bed without having to spend 10 minutes finding the right position that doesn't hurt, I'd be happy. Like seriously happy.
On the downside, I've let this frustration get to me (as well as the joy of being around friends) and I've been drinking more in the past 2 weeks (3 nights fairly drunk) than I have in the previous 2 months (nothing). I think the more this progresses, the more empathy I have for my mother, who had 3 herniated discs in her lower back (same as me) as well as 3 herniated discs in her neck. Sometimes the medicines (valium and vicodin) don't help me to cope with the pain. Sometimes all I want is to finish off a bottle of wine, fall in bed, and not feel anything for the next 8 hours. My family history (on both sides) suggests that this desire is a very dangerous thing to toy with. The doctor that prescribes my meds knows how careful I am about not using them unless I'm really having trouble sleeping (In one year I used 30 vicodin and 20 valium). I try not to use them at all.
The only other thing that brings me great relief is ice and/or floating in cold water -- neither of which are addictive.
And the one other thing that brings me a little bit of comfort is that finally doctors look at my MRI and then at me and tell me how much pain I must be in. The vindication. A friend of mine recently hurt her back and she said "I finally understand what you've been going through." More vindication, but she's lucky. She'll heal. If you've never injured your spine, you can't really understand what it's like to deal with some quantity of pain almost every minute of your life. I know, tiny violin solo for that. I know there are worse things in the world, that there are people out there that suffer more and greater pain, but this is the pain I deal with. I spent 10 years trying to tell people I was injured, that I wasn't weak, or lazy.
Just their saying "I understand" or "I can see where you hurt" makes it feel like I don't have to fight anymore. I just need to get well.