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A Quiet Start

Wow. Welcome, February! So, how is everyone handling 2021 so far?

Let me start with a heartfelt thank you to all of you who’ve taken the time to to check on me recently. It seems my silence here and on social media has raised some concern. Overall, I’m fine. And I realize I’m beyond blessed to be able to say the same for James, Mom and Dad. However, as someone who suffers from seasonal affective disorder during “normal” years, let’s just say this season has been particularly rough. I just haven’t had much motivation to do the things I usually enjoy. It’s been a struggle to get on the treadmill and break a sweat, and that’s definitely a shift from my usual self. (The fact I’m nursing an ongoing lower back / sacroiliac joint issue isn’t helping.) Then there’s writing. I’ve avoided that outlet mostly because I fear many of my musings have been darker than the ones I’m used to sharing. As for my unintentional hiatus from social media, I guess it was my way of shielding myself from the negativity and hate-filled posts and tweets that filled too many feeds for my liking.

So what have I been doing? I’ve remained beyond busy at work as part of the Test & Trace Corps. And there’s no let-up in sight. My other focus is trying to find more time for self-care. The newest addition to that routine is acupuncture. In addition to helping me find relief for the ongoing SI joint dysfunction that’s been plaguing me for years, it’s helping with my overall sense of well-being. I leave those sessions less anxious and more rested. My only regret is that I didn’t give it a try years ago.

As we kick off a new month, I garner new optimism for what lies ahead. (Even in the midst of a monster snow storm.) I hope all the beloved elderly people in my life can get vaccinated as soon as possible. I pray for the continued safety of all my family and friends. I look forward to the slow but steady arrival of more daylight in the days, weeks and months ahead. And I know my mood will eventually lighten just as it has through winters passed. In the meantime, I thank you for your ongoing support and look forward to days filled with more sunshine and more opportunities to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

 

The Search for Answers

If one point sticks with you at the end of this post, I hope it’s the fact that each of us has to be our own advocate when it comes to seeking out solutions to problems that affect our overall health and well-being.

I recently wrote about my continuing battle with lower back pain. Since then, I’ve started a new search for treatment options. Unfortunately, I felt zero percent better after a half-dozen visits with a physical therapist. The pain in the lower left side of my back and hip remain, along with the numbness and tingling down the front of my left thigh, calf and foot. I did learn some new exercises to incorporate into my core routine, but I  felt it was time to purse an alternative that would bring some relief.

That meant scheduling time to speak with my sports medicine specialist, describing how I’d reacted (or in this case didn’t react) to the treatment (which also included taking a low-dose anti-inflammatory) and posing questions about what my next plan of attack. This is a dialogue I started and it’s one I’ll continue it with as many doctors as I have to until I figure out how to “fix” the problem.

If you suffer from pain or another issue that affects everyday activities like working out, sleeping or even playing with your kids, don’t ignore it. No one know what you are feeling better than you, so take the reins and get a course of action in motion.

For me, that course brought me to a neurologist for a nerve conduction study and electromyography, better known as an EMG, which tests electrical activity of the muscles. An EMG is one of those medical terms that gets a reaction similar to the words “root canal.” I won’t lie. I was terrified to have the tests. Today, I’m happy to tell you the EMG doesn’t deserve such a bad rap! The neurologist walked me through every step of the tests, describing exactly what he’d do and when. There was no pain, just “strange” sensations that I compare to how your knee reacts when a doctor taps it to test your reflexes during a routine physical. The main difference is a EMG uses needles (microscopic ones that I barely felt) on the  feet, legs and lower back.

My results showed there’s nothing wrong with me neurologically. The second piece of good news: while last month’s MRI showed I have a bulging disc on the right side of my lumbar spine, the neurologist’s assessment showed that was nothing more than an incidental finding. The disc isn’t causing any inflammation that could be causing a problem with movement.

While this was all welcome news, the frustrating part is I have yet to pinpoint what’s been causing my pain and discomfort for the last nine months. All my tests point to a muscoskelatal issue, and quite possibly sacroiliitis. So while it may be back to the drawing board to determine what lies ahead  – stronger anti-inflammatories? injections? additional physical therapy? more chiropractic visits? -I’m ready to draw! I’ll work with my doctors and ask plenty of questions until I get answers and start on a path to recovery.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime, I encourage you as always to do the things that are good for you – exercise, eat healthy and don’t skimp on the sleep. If something like pain prevents you from doing any of these things – don’t ignore  it.  Talk to your primary care physician. If he or she doesn’t have an answer, ask who might. Life’s too short to suffer on any level. So, don’t back down when it comes to seeking out answers that may help you enjoy our time on this Earth to the max!

In the end, you have the ultimate power to seek out the information  you need to stay on the road to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!

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