Friday, September 26, 2008

Electro-shock therapy

I had my first physical therapy (PT) session yesterday. It’s for my aching back. The back with the herniated disk, with the desiccated disks, the one with the bulging disk. I sat with the very nice PT person and showed him what exercises and stretching I try and do. He thought they were all helpful. But then handed me two pieces of paper with six more stretches and six more strengthening exercises. He then showed me all the moves and told me to do them twice a day. He also mentioned a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation machine. TENS machine. This deal is a battery pack with some electrodes on it that you attach to your back and zap yourself. We were about 45 minutes into the hour long session, when he had me lay on my stomach and push up onto my elbows. Another technician then came in and attached four electrodes to my lower back and turned on some machine. He slowly dialed up the machine and I could feel the back start to jiggle. He took it to a comfortable level, then applied a cold pack and told me to lay there while the machine zapped my back for 10 minutes.
After that, we talked about lumbar cushions. He told me to just try rolling up an old towel and taping it.
I then headed over to Wal-Mart to purchase a cold-pack.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are we really that dumb?

Our youngest daughter is on the eight grade cheer leading team. She went to a cheer camp over the summer, where they taught them the basics. While there, they were doing the normal sales pitches and fund raising. They were selling hot sauce. My wife tried it and liked it. That is saying a lot, as she doesn't "do" hot spicy foods much. I prefer Pace Medium Picante. Not runny, sticks on your chips and in your taco's, doesn't run out of your flour tortilla. Anyway, we finally opened the jar this week. I get to reading the label and find something that makes zero sense.
On the bottom of the label, it says "Open Before Use". What? What idiot called up their help line, 10,438 times, complaining that they were not enjoying the hot sauce. Only because they were too stupid to OPEN THE FREAKING JAR!!!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

To do, or not to do.....

Friday, the wife drove me downtown Dallas to Baylor hospital. To see the neurosurgeon who fixed her back, some nine years ago. We sat in the waiting room for 20 minutes while I filled out paper work. A bit later, another patient told the office lady, that he was heading down stairs for a bit, but would not if the doctors were back yet. She told him, no, go ahead, as both doctors were still in emergency surgery. OK....I can wait. We wound up waiting a tad over an hour, but finally they called us back and the doctor took my bad-back history and gave me the once over.
The good news? He said "you have no neurological event which would point me to doing surgery on you". OK....two weeks ago, I couldn't get out of bed without extreme pain. So then he said "Lets go look at this MRI". We head into a darkened conference room and he fires up a PC with a big plasma screen and starts pulling up photos of my herniated disc and such. He points out all the problems. Than, said some interesting things. No one can tell from the MRI, how long these injuries have been there. He was willing to do surgery and while he was in there, fix all this stuff up. Recovery time was a few weeks to normal activities and three months to full recovery. Then, he said that there might also be NO CHANGE, post-operation! I enquired as to "solving this once and for all". He asked if I meant a "laminectomy", also known as a fusion. Um, yeah, so I can't hurt it again. Well, he said, remember that pain you had of two weeks back? That was nothing compared to the pain of a fusion. OK, so what are the options?
We choose conservative. He changed up an anti-inflammatory medicine. And gave me a prescription for physical therapy. And some shoes ideas. He liked my walking schedule, but wondered if some different shoes might help. He pointed to his $235.00 athletic shoes as an example. He also suggested a Lumbar Cushion. For use whenever I'm sitting. In the truck, car, at work, etc. Sounds like get a carabiner and just attach it to me!
So for now, I'm setting up PT. Seeing if the new meds help. Doc said that I can change my mind and shoot for surgery, anytime between now and the followup in two months. I know from checking their web site, that even up to a four month old MRI like I've shown him, they would "work with that".
I hope to head into work a few days this week and see about that.

Wife said "just looking at what all you have messed up......gave me the creeps...."
Thanks dear....

Friday, September 19, 2008


While home one day, I caught some of the 1990 film Arachnophobia.   One of the words used in there is "desiccation".   After the camera guy dies from the first spider bite, they ship his body home, and the spider takes a ride.  And so we have the story of a small American town, with people dropping dead from spider bites.  John Goodman turned in a funny performance.   When they open up the coffin from South America, the guy is "desiccated".   Meaning all dried out.

I got my MRI report on my back.  It's two pages long.  One herniated disk.  Two more exhibit "desiccation".  I'm a car guy.  Translation:  Two of the shock absorbers (Disk), lost all their fluid and are worthless.  There is a bunch of other stuff that I figured I'd let the doctor explain to me.  Thecal sac, Degenerative Facets, decreased disk height (That one's easy), extrusion, fragments, encroachment on nerve root sleeves, lateral recess.......

My wife had back surgery nine years back.  I'm going to see the same neurosurgeon. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lost in Time and space

I originally hurt my back about 30 years ago. I was young, in college and foolish. I was working summers selling automotive parts. I’d been with the company a few years and they asked me to go down to a small town south of where I was in college, and convert this independent store that they’d bought, to a company store. I was thrilled, as they informed me that I was the assistant manager. What I found out, was that I was the only other employee besides the manager. We got to inventory the store and send back about thirty percent of it, as obsolete stock. We also got to move every part, clean and paint the place in the company colors, yellow and black. We then got to order all the new stock. All while trying to establish some customer base for the new store. The manager had two race cars, so he and I hit it off. I was still crewing for some other racers at the old Fort Worth, actually North Richland Hills, Green Valley Drag track. I also decided to purchase a 1970 Mercury Cyclone as a project car. What made the car unique was the 429 cubic inch Cobra Jet motor. The car could cruise all day, at 100 miles per hour, with the air conditioning running, and towing another car. Only problem was, it needed rebuilding. So when the Ford service manual said to use a hoist to lift certain parts on and off, being young and dumb, I’d just muscle them. By the end of the summer, my back was in constant pain from all the strains.
My parents had a pool at the time and a pool cover. Think a giant piece of bubble wrap. My dad asked me to help him pull it back on one evening. I don’t remember much besides a lot of pain. I’ve been nursing the back for 30 years.
Two weeks back, I attempted to get up for work, and could not even put on my shoes, the pain was so intense. I worked from home the day and made an appointment to see my doctor. He changed up some prescriptions and set me up for an MRI. Magnetic Resonance Imaging.
I thought I’d had an MRI about 15 years back. But I’d not. I’d had a CAT scan. On a CAT, they lay you on a table and then the table moves you back and forth through this big white donut contraption. You just lay there while the table moves once in a while.
On the MRI, you go INSIDE the machine. First, the technician eye’s you up and down and tells you that anything with metal, has to be removed. I asked him about my dental implant. No big deal. Then, he told me to go remove my jeans and put on this stylish pair of paper pants. He then helped me lay down on the table. He covered me with some blankets and gave me a little bulb to squeeze. “In case you have some issue while in the machine”. Um….OK. He asked me if I was ready and that all I had to do was breath normally and lay there. Oh, and here’s some ear plugs. Since I was “ready” into the contraption I went.
What happened next was an elevated heart rate and increase in breathing. I felt like I was being loaded into a coffin. I understood the bulb. Squeeze the thing to GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! I wondered if this thing was going to transport me, a-la Star Trek, to another spaceship someplace.

The top of this tube I was going in had some string type lights, about four inches from my face. The walls on the side, were brushing down my arms. Then, the machine stopped and the technician came over the speaker and asked me if I was OK. Yeah, I guess I was. I think I know how Jonah felt in the fish! He then said that the machine was going to start making a bunch of racket and to just relax. I shut my eyes. I understood the earplugs next! This thing started making a LOT of racket. It was the revolving magnets on take off!! I kept waiting for this thing to decide that the implant in my jaw had to come out, by magnetic force. This racket went on for 30 minutes. Occasionally, it would stop, the machine would take a coffee break or reload or something. After the first few minutes, I just did my best to relax, lie still, and breathe normally. What joy!

Some 20 minutes later, the machine took another break and the technician came on and asked if I was OK. Sure, when do we arrive at the space station? He said “we” had one more pass to make, whatever that meant.

Finally, the noise ended and the machine started backing me back out. The technician came in, tossed my ear plugs and helped me up. I was so disoriented I had to ask him where my pants were, here or were they still on Xyloton. He pointed me back to the men’s room with my pants, glasses and such. I mentioned to him, that I’d not even got to crush that bulb deal. He just grinned and wished me good luck.

And crawling on the planet's face
Some insects called the human race
Lost in time, lost in space
And meaning.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Is this a sign of getting old?

A week ago, I only had the big vitamin bottle, the small baby aspirin bottle and a Lipator bottle. What happened to cause this?
I've had that bad back for 30 years now. This week, I got up in total agony on Monday. It was all I could do to get my shoes on and tied. I gave up and stayed home. Been home on heating pads, and multiple medicines, this week. I saw my doctor late Monday and he gave me some prescriptions, cut out one prescription, put me on steroids, sleeping pills, and set up an MRI on my back. This is Wednesday, day two of the steroids. My back is in less pain, but still shots of pain down my left leg to my ankle. Tomorrow, is MRI day. They did that to give the steroids 48 hours to attempt to knock out some of the swelling.
My last MRI was about 15 years back. I seem to remember some lower back disc was "50 percent degenerated" then. I'm holding my breath this time.
I'm already ticked off. We were going to the high school football game this Friday, I was to go Orienteering on Saturday and then a car cruise Saturday evening. Looks like all or most of that, is off for me now.

Now, I just have a bunch of medicines to try and remember to take at the right time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Curbs, potholes and sidewalks !!! OH MY!!!

Tonight's local news had a story about Dallas county trying to get their streets fixed on a very limited budget. The news reporter was standing in a poor side of town and noting that they had pot holes, no shoulders, no curbs and little drainage. My wife and I were laughing. We bought here when this was a middle class neighborhood, with a few upper middle class homes. In 1986, our dead-end street, had little drainage, no curbs, and pot holes in the dirt street. No pavement. The city paved it the next year. And in the last 22 years, they have paved it twice total. No curbs. No sidewalks. They have never cleaned out the silted in drainage, which is just a ditch. Oh well. We like it.

And this is now an upper middle class neighborhood, but not gated.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Paul? Is that you?

One of my many self imposed “get done” chores for Labor Day, was to touch up the paint on our daughters 1999 Corolla. I had sanded down the rusty spots, and roughed up the primer that was showing. I then just used some touch up paint on all the chips and peeling paint. On Monday morning, I decided to get the buffer out and polish out the touch up. Her car was parked under a tree, so I had shade. I got out an electrical cord and the buffer and the polish compound. I decided to use the garden hose from the front of the house. You need some water on the paint and the buffer pad, to make the compound work. I went and turned on the hose in the front and turned around to walk back to the car. That was when I noticed green movement by the back door handle of the car. Paul was back! Paul is a praying mantis. He was watching me. He has been hanging out in our front bushes for a year or two. Since I never see other mantis, maybe Paul is really Paulette. I don’t want to pry.
I’m glad our cats were asleep on the back porch. They would have died of a heart attack when the got a sight of a four inch long praying mantis. After I took Paul’s picture, I took the camera back inside. When I returned, Paul was gone again. These suckers do fly!