A Mile in Her Shoes

[[Updates & Annotations in brackets]] Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. We've all heard versions o...

[[Updates & Annotations in brackets]]

Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

We've all heard versions of this proverb throughout our lives.  It is meant to say that empathy/sympathy should precede judgment.

Well, today I got this email:
Hi Robby,

I hate to be an ass, but I have come to terms with it over the years.
I followed you through [name redacted] over the past few months. I know you are going through some physical pain right now, but your tweets have really started to piss me off.

I hate the heat. I hate to sweat, which I do, profusely. Complaining about the weather doesn't change the fact that I sweat. Complaining about your back woes does nothing to change the fact that it hurts and isn't getting better. I am unfollowing you because man, your guy problems, cats, and shaving issues do nothing to enrich my life.  Good luck with your shingles and carple[sic] tunnel syndrome. From the way you are talking, they are sure to come next.  
A former fan,
[name redacted]
Whoa and hey now! I bet it made this person feel all big and important to write that email, but if someone doesn't want to read my blog or be an acquaintance, that's their choice.  I won't force anyone to read my blog or follow my tweets. 

However, I didn't know it was my job to enrich her life.  My mission statement has never been to help other people (that just seems to happen coincidentally as a result of my helping myself).  It has all about how I take on (1) the world and (2) people's perceptions of fat people as I "struggle for [my] body."

My back has been the biggest struggle on this journey.


To be perfectly clear, this is not a "take an aspirin, use a heating pad" kind of back problem.  I have degenerative disc disease ("DDD").  I have three confirmed bulging discs with annular tears [[in my lower back]].  They have not herniated, but they most likely will at some point  At that point I will require a multi-level (3 at the least) spinal fusion.  It will greatly limit my mobility and flexibility, and there's no guarantee that it will help with the pain.  This most recent neck thing might be another disc showing signs of breakdown.  I feel pain and numbness radiating down my neck, through my left shoulder and down my left arm. [Update--it was a herniated disc and another bulging disc.  Yay!!]

The easiest way to explain DDD is that my spine doesn't look like the spine of a healthy 29 year old [[now 33 year old]].  My spinal specialist (a spinal microsurgeon) [[I now go to a different doctor]] said it has more in common with that of someone who is 50-60.   DDD is genetic (my mother had 6 herniated discs-- 3 in her neck, 3 in her back; tendonitis and arthritis.  She dealt with it not through rehab or medication, but by drinking).  It's not just because I'm overweight (losing 50lbs helps a little, but does not cure my back).  I could have gone many years without experiencing symptoms, however I've experienced two traumas to my back that have exacerbated my DDD:   in 1997 a linebacker bodychecked me into a wall and in 2007 a concert goer pulled me to the ground and 7 people landed on me.  [[And in 2011, a boyfriend damn near broke my neck by being haphazardly playful.]]

But the name of the post is "walk a mile in her shoes" -- and as there is no Spoon Theory for back pain that I've seen here goes:

It hurts to do just about everything.

What we know:  I have 3 bulging discs in my lower back (L3-4, L4-5, L5-S1). [[An artificial disc at C5-6 and a bulge in C6-7]
 
Imagine your vertebra are bricks and instead of mortar between them, they have jelly doughnuts between them.  The doughnut normally lines up right underneath the brick.  A bulge is when the brick exerts pressure on the doughnut in such a way that the doughnut is pushed beyond the boundary of the brick.  In my case, the discs are pushed dorsally (i.e. away from my core, and toward the outside of my back). Herniation is when the jelly is pushed outside the doughnut and into your body and the pastry is flattened, thus providing no cushioning between the bricks.  I'm not quite there yet [[in my lower back]], but there are cracks in my jelly doughnuts. 


http://www.empower-physicaltherapy.com/
Each of those discs/doughnuts have annular tears.  This means that not only are the walls of the discs (the annulus) misshapen and pressing on nerves they shouldn't, but the actual discs are breaking down and are prone to herniation (and having the nucleus pulposus/jelly squish out). The actual discs relay feelings of pain to my spine and then brain.

How this expresses itself is that I often lose feeling in my [[left]] leg[s] (sciatic nerve is a bitch) and sometimes that means I stumble/fall. Also, the actual discs can become inflamed and feel pain.  When the discs are inflamed, it hurts to even touch my back/neck (which is why I (sadly) cannot get massages).   Any type of exercise with torque/twisting or compression (jumping) is not advised.  Planks and pushups are hard because my stomach/back muscles aren't strong in the way they need to be, and the exercises that will make them strong usually put pressure on those discs.

I also have tendonitis in both hip joints (further adding instability to my core), but it is worse on my left side.  If you're ever around me, I'll pop my hip for you.  It's a gross party trick.   It makes exercises like leg lifts or scissor kicks very painful.

[[We now know... ]] Like I said above, we're not sure what's causing the cervical radiculitis, but it could be another disc issue (degeneration/bulge), but in my cervical spine. (Thoracic spinal injuries are more rare as there isn't much movement in that part of your spine, but it's not impossible, especially through trauma to the area).  How this expresses itself is that I can't really turn my neck to the left, and there is pain/numbness radiating down my left shoulder/arm. I have a limited range of movement in that arm, and I can't carry heavy things.

Each basic task of caring for yourself (god forbid you have to care for other people!) is broken down into its component and painful parts:

Going the bathroom was the hardest:  pulling down underwear, trying to sit down, twisting to reach toilet paper, bending to get up, and trying to get dressed.  There were times I was worried I'd be stranded in a bathroom unable to get up.  I found myself using the handicapped bathroom just so there was a bar I could use to pull myself up.   Often I urinated on myself when sneezing because when I sneezed the nerves that controlled my bladder were compressed.  Same goes for laughing.  I started keeping extra underwear and pants at work because of this.

Showering wasn't any easier -- I could basically clean the front of my torso, arms, neck, and face.  Everything else hurt in one way or another because of bending or twisting.  Shaving my legs was damn near impossible even on a good day.  On a few occasions I almost bit it in the shower because I was trying to shave my legs.   I couldn't even shave while sitting in the tub.  I just couldn't bend that way.

I couldn't sleep because almost every sleeping position was painful.  With pillows.  Without pillows.  With the ramp.  Without the ramp.  After a hot shower.  After icing.   With or without my knees tucked in a child's pose.  Thanks to narcotics, I'd average 3-4 hours of sleep a night.  But even that sleep wasn't enough and on top of being in pain I was irritable and exhausted.  [[And many times I find myself having to pull myself (with my arms) upright, because it hurts too much to twist my core.]]

Getting dressed was always an adventure as to how I'd have to figure out how to put on underwear, pants, socks, shoes, etc.  

I had two chairs at work because it hurt to sit in one position for too long.  The Nada Chair was one of my saving graces -- not just because I could stick an icepack between myself and the fabric, but because it helped me sit for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Cooking fell by the wayside for a few reasons -- mainly because I couldn't carry more than a few groceries at a time [[and I don't have a car]], the medications or the pain made me nauseated, and/or prepping food/cooking it was another instance of bending at the kitchen counter.  My diet was about what was easiest.  

Forget about taking care of my apartment--washing dishes was (and continues to be) painful, bent over a deep sink for even 5 minutes can make my leg go numb.  Each box of cat litter was 21-35 lbs of weight that I had to figure out how to carry (sometimes friends would help, but I'd still have to figure out how to get it in the litter box).  Laundry?  Ugh.  Vacuuming? Dusting?  All challenges I had to figure out.

Et cetera and so on.  Okay, so life wasn't as easy as it used to be.  So I won't be able to do the thing I used to be able to do and/or the things I wish I could do.  To a certain degree I can/could handle that.  I am strong, I am young.  I have a high pain tolerance and a positive attitude.  What became even harder than having a back problem was how people reacted to me saying I had a back problem.  So many people would be like "have you tried this drug?"  "A heating pad?" "this stretch" "that exercise" -- it was really hard to explain to people that this wasn't a sore muscle, this was a spine injury and it caused nerve pain.

It's not like I'm disabled in a wheelchair, or missing a limb.  It's not an obvious thing.  I could be sitting in front of you and you'd never know just how much pain it is for me to sit there.  I might bitch and complain on my blog, or on Facebook/Twitter, but it doesn't mean I've given up or given in to my injury.

For all intents and purposes, the amount that I complain about my back is minimal in comparison to each and every day I've had to live with this.  Even I feel guilty.  Before that snarky email arrived, I had posted to my Google+:
I really hate complaining when i know there are worse tragedies and misery in the world. that being said, i really hate being in pain (neck/shoulder), unable to exercise (boxing or gym), and basically stuck in bed (the pain meds make me sleepy/woozy). i just want a body that cooperates with me instead of constantly working against me for the past few years. i mean , my brain finally got the message regarding exercise and diet... I'd like to keep up that momentum without having to deal with injuries. /end rant
My friend JD reminded me that it is okay to complain/vent:  
JD:  Never make your misery relative. It sucks you gotta go through all this crap :(

Me: Well i feel it is relative. i know that for me to complain that something is really wrong. at the same time i think about soldiers in recovery/rehab at walter reed. i think about people in third world countries walking around dying from treatable diseases. i feel like my pain is so minor in this world, and that i have the benefit of doctors and medicine... and yet, i feel absolutely miserable.

JD:  That still does not negate what your going through. Everybody needs to vent. Everybody is entitled to feel like shit once in a while. 
Me:  It's the proximity we have to our own pain that makes it feel insurmountable sometimes.
And it does feel insurmountable sometimes.  I do read your blog entries and tweets about running races or great workouts with a pang of jealousy.   I am not jealous of you, per se, but I'm frustrated that when I finally started to understand how much I loved exercise that the ability to do it freely was taken from me.  I want to be part of your 5k herd. I want to do each and every rep at the gym with you.  I want to Zumba my little ass off.  But the truth of the matter is that my desire to do such things is not what dictates my ability to do so.

One of the things about DDD is the awareness that even the most innocuous of movements can cause irreparable damage.  For example, if I were in a yoga pose, and were to fall over, I might cause a disc to herniate, or a new disc bulge.   Does it prevent me from living?  No, but I'm cautious about which activities I engage in, and very mindful about the condition of my back.  On a good day I might be healthy enough to box.  On a bad day, getting out of bed might be inadvisable.

So there's the mental aspects of feeling restricted by my body and older than I am -- and those aspects contribute to how I feel about myself in general.  No where is this more evident than in my social/dating life.  How do you feel sexy when you're bent over and hobbling down the road like a 70 year old?  How do you expect someone to love a broken thing?

The 3-4 months in 2007 when my back was its worst were horrible for me because not only was I in pain, I felt isolated because of it.  It was before how I knew to ask for help, it was before I knew how to talk to people about back pain.  I'd go home from work and start shoving ice packs down my pants, take my vicodin, and generally be useless for a few hours.  I couldn't drink while I was on the narcotics/steroids, and I think people were unsure about whether to ask me to bars/events or not.  So basically take a hermit and give them a reason to isolate themselves and that's what you get.

I had to give up softball (my main social outlet) and kickball (but would often just go and sit on the sidelines).  I couldn't go to the movies because sitting down that long was painful.  I couldn't dance (and if I were near a dance floor invariably people would pull at me and try to get me to dance).  I couldn't even wander DC at night (I had a 20 minute time period before my back would start to become inflamed). 

So yeah, I might complain.  You try to deal with chronic pain 24/7 with a smile plastered on your face.
It's harder than you think.

So yeah, I might complain.  But venting my frustrations means that I'm not giving in to them.  It means there are things I'd rather be doing than sitting in bed twiddling my thumbs.

So yeah, I might complain.  But at least I'm not going the way of people who have become addicted to pain medication.

So yeah, I might complain.  You don't have to empathize.  But walk a mile in my shoes before you criticize.

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35 comments

  1. I don't mind your tweets at all. Good or bad...they are all just a snippet into someone else's life and its good to know that its not all roses for everyone else all the time :) Keep true to yourself and and I hope you feel better sooner rather than later...but I'll be following all the way thru. I think you are an inspiration :)

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  2. Alissa: thank you for the love and the support.

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  3. I know what you mean, I have fibromyalgia and if you replaced that with DDD, well, I could've written this post myself. ha.

    I feel bad complaining to my bf all the time, so I try and tone it down. I know it makes him feel bad, there is nothing he can do. My pain is tons better these days with new pain management skills, but it's never going away. I wish I could exercise more too, I overdid it a few weeks ago and was out of commission for 2 weeks. augh. The spoon theory works for you too btw. All chronic pain stuff uses it. Fibro people have definitely stolen it as well.

    People don't get it, they don't get that sometimes whining and bitching is all you can do to keep from tearing out your hair and giving in to the pain...

    ...but screw them, they don't have to deal with it and clearly if they can't even deal with LISTENING to someone else choosing to deal with it in their own way then I can't imagine what they would do should they wake up one day feeling like us. There are people who care and don't mind and can relate. I would hate if everyone was sunshine and roses all the time.

    Not that I wish ill on anyone, but it's good to know sometimes, that you aren't the only one at the very least. Wish ya well. As well as well can be anyhow.

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  4. I can't believe someone sent that sort of comment to you! OMG! As you said, no one is forcing them to read your blog posts or follow you on Twitter. I unfollow people all of the time but wouldn't dream of sending them a rant to let them know why (how self-important that would be.... assuming they would be upset / devastated they would be losing me as a reader!!!).

    And frankly Twitter is the perfect place to have a moan about things - I do it incessantly.... complaining about getting up early, how slow the commute to work is, having to exercise and the like. And my complaints are minor compared to what you are going through.

    DDD sounds terrible and I can't imagine what it is like for you.

    Take care (and ignore the unfollowers!)

    Deb

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  5. BW -- I know spoon theory was written with fibro in mind, but it really does describe most of chronic pain. It just never ends and takes a lot out of the person.

    It's hard to lean on the people close to us. My father even said to me "It sounds like you down-played your pain when you told me about this last week." Well yeah, this would cause most people to curl up in a ball and cry for their mommy, but I've experienced worse.

    I feel so horrible that you can relate, but it is a comfort that i don't need to explain it to you. I don't need to qualify it to you. There's a silent understanding, eh?

    Take care and good luck with your pain. *gentle hugs*

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  6. DS: you know, I don't know what that email was intended to do? humble me? wound me? **shrugs**

    Like JD says -- everyone has the right to complain now and then. We're humans, we're great at it. I think it's our subtle acknowledgement that things could and should be different/better.

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  7. I think it was originally written for lupus actually, but we stole it. :P

    Yeah I agree about people close, it makes them feel helpless, my bf gets upset like what do I want him to do....(not in a nasty way, he is 'on the spectrum' so his social skills are lacking) he literally means WHAT CAN HE DO. and I say NOTHING JUST LISTEN TO ME WHINE! lol. :P

    and yeah I get what you mean. I think I'll be curling up with the heating pad tonight. This chair is killing me. Can't wait to get a laptop!

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  8. I'm not big on sympathy for other people sometimes, and I don't have much of a filter, but that email is about as low as it goes. Seriously, screw that person for thinking it's your job to "enrich (his/her) life."

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  9. BW: you're so right that it was originally written for lupus. D'oh! I knew that.

    But i use it mainly when talking to friends with fibro.

    I think it's hard for people to hear us complain without trying to solve. I have doctors. They're working on the solution. I just need to vent the frustration and the pain in a safe environment where I know I can feel weak or hurt, and less than whole.

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  10. You are one of the strongest people I have gotten to know. I can't imagine what it would be like to have chronic pain but I admire your determination to stay positive and healthy. Most people would merely use it as an excuse to give up, but you manage to take control. Real people vent. Blogging isn't all fairytales and rainbows.

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  11. That is the stupidest email I have ever read.

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  12. Wendy: I hope i know how much I appreciate your no bullshit approach to people. I never have to doubt your honesty or integrity. And you're right -- that email was trying to kick me when I was down. And well... I'm not going to let it.

    Steph: You know even strong people have moments of pain and/or weakness. I can't give up, i can't give in. I can't go back to a life where the injury dictated what I did. Now my mind dictates what i want to do and my body informs my mind.

    Amy: a simple and direct comment requires a simple and direct reply: Yes. It was stupid :P

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  13. Mind? BLOWN.

    First off, who sends someone an email listing the reasons they're unfollowing?!? Just do it quietly and be done with it! GAH.

    And secondly, there is no hierarchy of suffering or Pain Olympics: EVERYONE struggles with SOMETHING. If it affects your life, if it makes you sad, if it's hard to deal with, IT IS ALL OF THOSE THINGS, regardless of whether someone has it "harder" than you - "harder" is relative, for crying out loud in a bucket!

    Sorry for all the yelly-caps, but this kind of stuff just makes me want to scream.

    *hugs* to you, and now I'mma go follow you on twitter. :P

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  14. Chibi dear, you're more than welcome to use screamy yelly caps in response to this post. Part of me wanted to as well. But I think once the bitchy/snarky response faded, i thought "wow, this could be a teaching moment."

    You're 100% right that pain is not a competition. According to buddhism, pain/suffering is what most unites us. We on are able to be compassionate because we understand pain and how pain is not exclusive to one person or another. Suffering touches every person in one way or another. We see ourselves in each other's pain. If we are unable to do so, it means we're too bent on trying to say how we are separate from the other.

    In the end I just feel sorry for her that something is so wrong in her life that she feels the need to lash out at not just another person, but a person who is in the midst of pain/suffering.

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  15. Oh gosh. WOW! Quite an email!
    You never need to apologize.
    I was unfollowed once after tweeting SHITZU (my edited version of SHIT!)
    uh...
    Really?
    Here's the deal - write, talk, tweet whatever works for you. The beauty of this thing is we get to connect with who we connect with. I would never call you a whiner. And I hope you know that my heart goes out to you - and that wouldn't have happened if I didn't KNOW about your situation.
    I'm old. I'm cured like 95% of what people think of me.
    You're young.
    And very wise :)

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  16. Kris: you know I'm only wise because I've had the benefit(?) of having to grow up way before my time. But you (and other people who have commented) are right -- it's up to each individual to pick and choose which blogs they read or twitter feeds to follow. I'm not forcing anyone.

    But I've found that if you invest a little in learning a person's story, you actually get a lot in regards to being a little less alone in the world.

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  17. I can't begin to relate what your life may be like. I have had back spasms that have made it near impossible to do those things, but only for a few days at a time.

    People need to grow up! This is your space to write what you want, to help other people that may be experiencing what you do, and to get things off your chest!

    I hope that you realize that for every person that un-follows that you have made other people realize that they aren't alone...

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  18. Brenda: I don't want anyone to know what it's like dealing with this back pain. It's enough that my mom had to live with it, it's enough that I have to live with it.

    But in writing about it, I'm looking to get it off my chest, not portray myself as a victim of it. If ever i do that I'd hope that every person that reads my blog (new and old) reminds me that i"m a fighter and this is not the end.

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  19. I have bursitis in both hips and I've ruptured my L4/L5 - when you wrote about fearing being stuck in the bathroom and pain from turning to get the toilet paper... even the "pee sneeze" and laugh - I almost started crying because I know how bad that is. I know how embarrassing that is. There are nights when I lay in bed and convince myself to get up and go to the bathroom even though I know I'm going to fall onto the toilet and have trouble getting back up because my hips are so sore/weak, but it comes and goes for me (without meds, which is strange but that's just how it is). I've even had one time when my hips/low back were so weak that I couldn't "hold it" and I had to drive from the grocery store to my house, soaked in my own - it was one of the worst days of my life. I can't even imagine what it's like for you. My heart goes out to you and I commend you on your strength.

    While I am the kind of person who tells people to "suck it up" and "get over it," I think there is a time and a place (and a specific type of relationship) for that kind of advice. This/that obviously isn't it. I hope you find peace in all of the love and support you have here.

    Best of luck to you.

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  20. Amy- it sucks that you know what it's like. Like I said above, i wouldn't want to wish this on anyone. There were times I would be in the bathroom on the toilet crying in agony for help, and there was no one there to listen. I just needed to cry and ask the universe to give me a break, if only for one bowel movement. I've been there too--the first time i realized that sneezing and the bad back didn't go together well was actually at the doctor's office. I panicked and grabbed towels to pee. Luckily they were very understanding and even got me to stop crying long enough to laugh a bit. But there were times I had to rinse out underwear at work and dry them with a hand dryer.

    I am also a kind of "put on your big girl pants" kind of person, but that's when I think someone needs to the affirmation that they can do something -- not to be belittled that they can't.

    I have lots of love and lots of support. That's what gets me through my worst days.

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  21. finally off the handheld and stealing husbands laptop so I can comment.
    and really not too too much more to say than I did on twitter
    I GET THIS and 100% agree if no one has walked a mile in your shoes---they can not.

    xo

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  22. I have chronic Lyme disease and it makes things normal people can take in stride-- like a late night, a cold, or too much time on your feet-- something that cripples me for days. The constant cycles of intense medications keep me constantly nauseated and tired. Similar to your situation, there's no outward manifestation of my illness. No one would know looking at me that getting out of bed every morning is a painful struggle. My boyfriend is super supportive in a detached sort of way. It's too gross to tell him every time my medications make me throw up, being tired and weepy gets old after a while, and constantly telling him how much pain I am isn't sexy-- so it's hard for me to WANT to keep him (or anyone) in the loop. Long story short, one time recently my pain medications led to INSANE water retention and suddenly I had an outward manifestation of my suffering. My ankles and feet were unrecognizable with swelling. My boyfriend freaked out and insisted I visit the ER and babied me for days until the swelling went down, while I felt like swollen limbs were a small price to pay for some pain relief. =P It was bittersweet for me, that someone who cared about me so much could not truly relate to my struggle sincerely without seeing it. What you're struggling with is profoundly difficult. Don't minimize it and don't let people who don't GET IT get you down. Lots of us do get it and are behind you (even if I've never commented on your blog before, haha) :)

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  23. Carla: how about if anyone criticizes me for my back, you get to beat them up?

    Amy: Definitely read/look at the spoon theory link. It's been very useful in explaining chronic pain/chronic illness. "But you don't look sick" or "but you don't appear hurt" is so frustrating. I think with women, especially, our ability to endure pain sometimes works against us, no?

    And it's so hard for the people close to us to understand. My dad will often say "I wish I could suffer this pain for you!" and I ask him to stop saying things like that because it doesn't actually help me. Offer to pay for a maid service to clean my apartment one day. That actually helps, yanno?

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  24. I can't say much more than what's already been said, but I think you are amazing. Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows. It's the challenges that make us stronger. That person has their head up their ass if they think your blog is for their entertainment. {{{hugs}}}

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  25. Thank you Carrie.
    And you're right -- life has ups and downs. This is just one little part of the rollercoaster.

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  26. I left a comment but I don't see it...did you get it? About trigger points?

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  27. Stacy:

    I'm sure you didn't intend it, but I found that comment to be rather insensitive. Usually I do not censor comments, but I did in this case. DDD is a very real underlying cause for the pain I feel. To suggest otherwise goes against the spirit of the entry--which was "until you go through it, you just don't understand."

    -R

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  28. I wasn't being insensitive at all and I am devastated that you thought so! I was trying to tell you that there are HUNDREDS of people who have suffered with chronic pain and found some or complete relief with trigger point therapy. I was in no way down playing your condition or your pain. I found your website looking for courage to train to become a boxer at 100 pounds over weight. I do not know you and as I said I was just offering you a possible new idea that might help you. I personally had never heard of trigger point therapy for pain management even though I went to massage school. Please accept my apologies for your gross misunderstanding. Good luck in your journey.

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  29. Stacy --

    Don't you think it's up to me to determine whether what you said might have been insensitive or not? Sure, you might not have intended it that way, but that's how I perceived it.

    I've been dealing with this for around 15 years. Most of what people have to suggest are not "new ideas." As for trigger point therapy, it does not address the cause of the problem, it just deals with the symptoms.

    As for your comment "accept my apologies for your gross misunderstanding" -- that's one of the most half-assed apologies I've ever heard. You really need to work on your delivery.

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  30. Stacy

    But do take boxing. Everyone can box.

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  31. Hello! I just found your blog through Twitter and after reading this post I am so cross that anyone could say something so thoughtless to another person! You didn't have to explain yourself AT ALL, but I'm sure that by writing about your pain here, it will continue to help other people who are in similar situations - how any fool is unable to see that beats me! :)

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  32. Lizzy,

    Hello and welcome to my blog! I know i don't need to explain myself, but i think if I go on record about "not having patience for people who don't understand back pain" I feel less guilty about rolling my eyes at them. ((See the comments above, perhaps??))

    I just got tired of people saying "try a heating pad" "Does aleve work" "yoga!" -- I don't think they realize the severity of what i'm working with. I get prescribed the good drugs, and even yoga can be dangerous for me.

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  33. Don't worry about the spinal fusion - I had it at 12 years old. It may have been one of the most life changing experiences I have had to date. Yes, it does limit some mobility, but you will still be able to do TONS of things. If you are only getting 4 vertebrae fused, you will be luckier than most and have the option to continue moving as much as you want, as long as you are willing to get through the initial recovery. Swimming will be your best rehab and movement for 2 months, not to mention how much swimming does for your body. As painful as things are now, you will be able to take the pain and empower yourself with it because "you did it and you got through". Not everyone can say they had major surgery. Say it loud and proud. My foot long scar from having 11 vertebrae fused makes me feel tough, and I sure as hell use that to my advantage when I'm feeling down or sore. Own your body, every part of it.

    Peace.

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  34. Every body responds to back surgery differently -- and just as many spine surgeries fail as they do succeed. At 12, your body was much more willing to heal and adapt than my body is at 30. Or will be when I eventually need to have surgery. All of my experts agree that I should put it off for as long as possible.

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  35. Wow, that former fan is quit the dick.

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<3 Robby