Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Day at the Cleveland Clinic

Today I went to the Cleveland Clinic to have a specialist look at my bad back. I have been mired in lumbar spine problems for the last two years, after waking up one day in January, 2007 unable to move due to sharp pains running down my legs (sciatica). I couldn't walk for quite a while, and had to pay someone to get my groceries. It was a huge ordeal that turned out to be a bulging lumbar disc and sciatica at that time. The doctor in Florida loaded me up with really strong prescription drugs so that I wasn't in horrifyingly bad pain at all times. Physical therapy caused horrible back spasms that set my progress back for awhile so I stopped that. It was scary, not to mention being alone was tough as well. Medical professionals in Florida weren't great, didn't care and were basically rude and distant when I needed them the most. The Florida doctor was at a reputable medical building/hospital system but he was cold and told me that the next step was hyperdermic needles in my spine if the drugs didn't work! I never went back after that. I recovered very slowly in months but my back has always hurt badly since.

Fast forward to now. I do not need a cane or other devices to walk but it hurts to be on my feet for long, standing and walking is very painful but I do it. My desk chair has been replaced with a overstuffed, lumbar reinforced recliner. I have special pillows to sit on, to help ease back pains while drawing here at my desk. I have a TENS unit (electric stimulator that physical therapists use) and it has helped some, too.

Moving back to Ohio, I was so happy to come home to my normal family doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, and the extremely high quality healthcare that they give. He recently referred me to the back specialist who is personable, caring and fully capable of helping me overcome the back problems. He explained my X-rays in depth to me, and it was interesting to learn that I have a lot of arthritis in my spine, that the bone spurs are there too but aren't the issue. The main issue is stenosis/spondlyosis, from what I gathered, that means the narrowing of the passageway inside my spine (basically the nerve current in the middle of it). So, I will be spending lots of time in pools, in different kinds of therapy, one-on-one with a reputable physical therapist at a state-of-the-art facility close to my place. I welcome it, to help make my body more conditioned and less sore. From what I gather, it's a long process but the doctor is optimistic that I won't need surgery so I am totally encouraged.

It's so strange, since my parents and grandparents don't/didn't have back pain like this. I used to take moving freely for granted, carrying many bags of groceries at once, never worrying about the spine at all. Years of horseback riding didn't seem to bother me, either (pre-back pain), and I plan to ride again asap even still. My X-rays show that I have basically no cushion between my lowest two vertabrae, it wore off. Replacing that cushion hasn't been invented yet, but someday, long in the future, it will probably be figured out. Yeah, when I'm too old to care at that point. So, I trust the Clinic to fix my spine problems the best that can be done. It is so wonderful to have great healthcare again. With help from my wonderful doctors and therapists, it will be a fight I plan to win. Thank you, Clinic. I plan on fighting aging and pain every step of the way!

Oh, and by the way, the Official Cleveland Clinic Greeters (dogs) are a wonderful addition. Petted a Dalmatian and an Irish Setter as I waited for my X-rays. My parents and I really enjoyed them, too. Greeter-dogs, a great way to diffuse tension during medical tests, etc, a good thing.

Cleveland Clinic