One of the things I’ve been battling with lately (in addition to edits and word counts) is an increasing level of pain in my back and ribs. It’s been going since September 2013, and while it would come and go, for the last six months it’s been a pretty steady 5-7 on the pain scale. Over the summer, it started it started seizing up with a pain level that went right up to the Hyperbole & a Half’s “10: I am being actively mauled by a bear”.
I have friends with chronic pain, and this has given me a whole new insight into their lives. This pain has forced me into walking a precarious balance between hurting so bad as to be angry at the whole world and being too stoned on pain killers to really engage with the world. I’ve been to doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists the whole time, and none of them really had much success other than pointing me towards the next vertex in that little triangular round-about.
But now, at last, I may be getting relief. The latest MRI points to herniated discs in my back, both above and below the T7 vertebrae. That’s more or less between the shoulder blades. Anyway, the theory is that nerves coming through that are getting pinched and sending spurious signals in both directions. If so, then the pain in my ribs is not actually in my ribs, but merely being interpreted as being in my ribs, and seizures in those muscles are not a sign of problems in the muscles but rather the result of random misfires being sent down the nerves from the pinch point in my back.
It’s still unclear to me what I’m supposed to do about the herniated discs, but for the pinched nerves, there is a treatment, and I’m getting it today. They’ll be injecting cortisone into my back in two places near the spine. The idea is that the cortisone will significantly reduce the inflammation in the area, ending the pinch to the nerve. Given that this has been going for over a year, there is some chance I’ll need a second set of shots in the coming weeks/months. However, the theory is that this should eliminate the pain and seizing for years to come if not actually forever.
I’m not sure how much relief it’s going to provide me specifically for my writing, but I am hopeful. And I’m also pretty sure it means one or more of my characters down the road is going to suffer from chronic pain as well.