Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stretching Things Thin (I wish)!

I have not been posting with regularity lately due to something taking over my life...almost completely, it seems.
As some of you Dear Readers, relatives, and friends know, I had been having problems for almost a year with pain traveling from my lower back shooting down through my left leg. (Gee, that should be a movie..."My Left Leg...sequel to "My Left Foot") Anyway...I digress...
I finally gave up after trying all the tricks and "treats" I've learned through the past 15 years as a chronic pain person: TENS unit, stretching, exercises, pain meds, etc. Actually, I went through the whole lot of them with the same results each time. It wasn't working. About the time our fellow shepherd and friend John (Marietta Shetlands...see Tina's blog "A Blip on the Radar" link listed) was having problems with his back and going into back surgery, I was facing the same thing.
I have been dodging this ball for years now. I know I have severe degeneration in the spine in two places, but I ain't ready to go - no way, no how! The alternative has been back into Physical Therapy or Physio. You can still see the claw marks in the carpeting as I dragged myself into the PT office, stopping briefly only to notice the Ortho/PT/Sports Medicine Complex has added espresso stations on each floor. Did I mention that I did not want to go? :)
Well, after getting a great Therapist I was put on spinal traction treatments a few times a week. First, I spend some time on a very heated, moist hotpack to relax all the muscles around the spine, then on goes the traction gear and the machine makes sure I have the proper tension for the amount of time needed. It is amazing to feel the spine actually seeming to take a deep breath. OK, well we all know how our bodies and gravity get along with each other as we get older, right? (wink, wink) This contraption actually helps to reverse that if only for a short while.
The therapist explained to me that as the muscles relax and the spine eases up, the cartilage and "gel" within the discs between the vertebrae actually softens and goes into a more "normal" position, relieving any areas around nerve branches from the spinal column. But, (there's always a "but" isn't there?) one key trick is after the machine shuts off and the spine starts to compress a bit before you get up, you lie on the table for about 5 minutes. During those minutes the spine will actually try to go into a correct position without having to fight gravity to do it. I wish they had told me this years ago for my neck traction device I use at home. It makes a BIG difference!
Now I have to admit that when I'm done and walking down to the first floor Jitters coffee bar, I do notice a bit of pain, but it's not like the terrible pain. By the time I sit in the car, it's gone. What it is is everything settling in again but with the spine in correct alignment.
By the next day, I usually have some of the original pain again, but nothing like it was. So, there's talk of a home device for me to continue this thereby dodging that bullet again. That works for me!
So, you'll have to excuse me for not posting more regularly right now. I promise I will try to get some new pics up soon. The sheep are shorn and naturally, it's snowing.

Oh, well...that's March in Northern Arizona for you! :)


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I could just hear your voice, dear friend, narrating that post for me! Things could be worse; a title of a book comes to mind -- "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Ha!

Seriously, I'm glad you are getting SOME relief and wish I could snap my fingers and bring you much more.

Leigh said...

Kathy, I'm so sorry to hear you have such painful problems. You're not a complainer though, and very brave! Your health is a priority; do take care of yourself.

Kathy L. said...

Thanks so much for the good vibes, friends. I am keeping very positive about everything and I'm sure things with work just fine in the long run. :)

sheperdchik said...

Kathy: can you email me a pic of your neck traction device? I have the pillow one that you strap your head too and I hate it absolutely. I'm looking for a more comfortable traction for my neck. I like the one they had at physical therapy with the funky hat you put on and the rubber around the neck with weights on the hat - yeah, attractive. It always felt great though, the pillow contraption they gave me though, is crap. Cute kitties by the way!