For those of you who are counting (okay, I know some of you out there don't like football...), Peyton Manning is finally returning to football after missing a whole season and having 4 surgeries on his cervical spine in the past 2 years to correct a bulging disc and the related pinched nerves.
[Peyton ] Manning was not just frustrated that he had been cut off from the people in Indianapolis who knew his body best. He was also craving privacy. His arm had lost strength, his grip was soft, his triceps had withered after one of his earlier neck operations. It had all left him oddly vulnerable and isolated.
"I did not want people seeing me," he said. "It becomes a private, sensitive deal."
Sound familiar? It should.
Exhibit A — my cervical spine (C5-6 has a mild herniation, C6-C7 has a bulge):
Exhibit B — my lower back (L3-L4, L4-L5, L5-S1 all have bulges) from a MRI in 2008 (needs updating, i know):
Peyton Manning had a spinal fusion and then revision surgeries. Of the surgeries available, this is the kind of surgery that I'm trying to avoid, but will most likely be encouraged to get because I have disc issues affecting mutiple levels. Fusion surgeries have high failure rates (i.e. they need revisions and/or don't actually alleviate pain). For my cervical spine, I've been trying to learn as much as I can about artificial disc replacement surgery. Seems like the jury is still out on it. The technology is imperfect, but it seems like the sooner you do it, the better the outcome.
I hate feeling like I'm sounding repetitive here, but as I've written before, this is the biggest struggle I have in my weight loss/health gain journey. Simply put, degenerative disc disease is a bitch. Reading that story about Peyton Manning's struggles was a comfort in that someone who is a champion and other people's hero has struggled with this injury too.
I can handle injuries (see, e.g., the time I tried out for tennis after having sprained my foot in two places). I can handle emotional trauma. What I am having trouble with is an injury that will never fully heal and the ongoing emotional distress that it causes. I know there will be good days, and there will be bad days. The good days are awesome. The bad days suck. Having a good day and wondering when the next bad day will come is nerve racking limbo. Having a bad day and wondering when the next good day will be is disheartening.
And riddle me this -- how do you wrap your head around feeling sexy and/or young when you feel so broken/fragile? I've been chatting with a fellow (from OkCupid) and have been rather candid about my injuries. It's hard to explain to him that it's not necessarily about weight loss. If I were the same weight and had a healthy spine, I'd feel much better about myself than I do right now. If I were at my goal weight but still injured, I'd still feel the same anguish that I feel now. That make sense?
I'm not looking to run a marathon anytime soon. I just want a good night's sleep, the ability to go to the gym, and a full range of motion. I want to be able to hug someone without having to warn them to be careful. That would be enough for me.