I knew something was wrong, but I kept pushing myself believing that it was just a fluke and would disappear as quickly as it came. This numbness in my thighs and the constant ache in my back whenever I walked anywhere just kept getting worse. Like a sign from the Universe, one day, while at work, a bolt of lightning pain shot straight down my spine, from my neck to my tailbone and I could no longer deny it was time for my orthopedic doc to take a look! So with all the strength I could muster I phoned him, received an appointment and went to see him that very same day. Dr. Licciardi is a wonderful man and a fantastic orthopedic surgeon. He had taken care of me in the past and I felt safe and assured in his care. Rocco, my ever caring husband, picked me up early from work and we drove to the doctor. By the time I was in the examining room, the pain was so severe that all Dr. Licciardi had to do was look at my face and he instantly knew something was terribly wrong. He gave me a shot to try and ease the spasms and took some tests. Finally after a few days and all the tests results came in, I had my answer I had progressive stenosis, degenerative disc disease and a collapsed thecal sac with severe nerve damage. In other words, I was now disabled and the prognosis of this diagnoses was not very positive. To say I was shocked would be an understatement! I was actually devastated, but no one can ever tell when I feel that way, because I can mask that devastation brilliantly.
A series of “fixes” was started immediately, none of them, of course, came with any guarantees, but then neither did this body of mine. For the next three months or so, I went through cortisone metropaks, injections from pain management physicians, bed rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications. Trying to stand, sit or walk for a few minutes at a time was becoming an olympian challenge for me. My entire life had completely changed and I was not ready for it at all. My inner makings had aged before my years and there was nothing I could do to stop it anymore. Oh yes, surgery was mentioned to me, but the odds of either surviving them or of them lasting was so slim that it was impossible for me to consider them. Worst of all was that Dr. Licciardi, himself, didn’t perform the type of surgery that was needed and I would have to be recommended to a different doctor. I wasn’t ready for that. This Universe that we all live in was certainly having fun with me! It wasn’t enough that I had Menopause, oh no, that wasn’t enough for my Universe, now I had this debilitating disease that would prove to change the entire way I had existed for the past twenty years!
I have often thought well it could be a lot worse. I could be dying. I could have cancer or some other life threatening illness. I could be paralyzed or any other number of horrible terrible things that braver people than I are going through every single day, so in a way I always tell myself how lucky I really am and I mean it for about 5 minutes and then I say, no freaking way! This damn thing I have is as bad as some of those other diseases because my life is no longer my life! I don’t feel sorry for me, I freaking can’t stand me or my insides or whatever that has taken away my opportunity to hold down my job, to walk for any length, to sit for any amount of time, to lie down without pain, to cook, to bowl, to dance! I hate this freaking disease and I don’t want to have it.
I am so appreciative of everyone’s good thoughts and attempts at boosting my “blues” by telling me how “fortunate” I am, and at the same time, I want to scream! No one seems to get it! Everyone thinks, “aww you have a bad back” and everyone has either experienced a bad back or knows someone who has. Everyone knows someone or themselves who have had slipped discs, etc. etc….No one and I mean no one, ever realizes that I have had a “bad back” for about thirty-eight years and now it has collapsed! No one truly understands and I can live with that by not talking about my disease, by “pretending” that I am just okay with this; going on about my everyday life as if everything is honky dory and normal as can be. It’s all BS! I am not honky dory, everyday life for me is no life at all! Dr. Licciardi doesn’t know what to do for me anymore, except to keep checking me for any changes, giving me meds and being the great man that he is. He brings up one of the surgeries I would need, every now and then, but he never pushes me, knowing full well that it would last about six months, if I was one of the lucky ones, and then probably be worse than it is now! No freaking way will I put myself through that!
By now, you might be saying to yourselves, wow what a selfish bitch this woman is! She should be grateful,yadda yadda yadda!!! You are probably saying, stop feeling sorry for yourself! Yet, none of you saying that has been living my life as of late! So hell no, no matter what anyone else thinks, I am doing the very best I can under these forced circumstances! When I can find some joy in this current life of mine, I am going to take it! I am not going to complain everyday (just once in this blog)! I am lucky in one aspect, lucky that I am married to a Saint! and I mean a Saint! I have the world’s best! Rocco does everything for me now, most of the cooking; all the cleaning; most of the shopping; and thank God he still has a job that supports us and helps us get health insurance. Yes, I am bringing in some money by getting SS and some disability money so for now we can keep our heads just above the water, but sooner than later we are going to have to sell our home and try to start over somewhere, somehow. I often wonder if anyone can imagine the psychological changes that occur when an active, fun-loving woman like myself, gets hit with a life-changing event like this? Believe me it takes will power not to punch walls, or throw yourself off the nearest bridge, (if you could get there)! It takes an iron will not to scream at everyone who says, “it could be worse!” or “you are just feeling sorry for yourself!” Maybe both of those things are true, and if they are “so be it”. All I know is that I feel like the Universe has played a cruel trick on me and I am neither happy about it or so willing to be a martyr for it! I wish it didn’t happen, but the reality is that is has. So now I am taking forever to learn to make the best of it, but I will continue to try to do that for as long as I can, until this Universe decides to try something new with my life.
Whew, thanks blog for letting me get that off my chest! This is the first and last time I will speak on the subject and so that is The Way I See It.
Forever Brooklyn Bred and Raised,