Today was my follow up appointment to discuss the results of the MRI I had on Wednesday. I met with the same doctor I saw last week. I still really like him. He takes the time to really talk to me and he understands the frustration I am going through. Again, he had to offer me a tissue.
We looked at the MRI and were able to clearly see the annulus tear that we had gotten a peak at on the old MRI. We were also able to see the differences in the disc at L5 in comparison to those surrounding it. We could also see some degenerative changes in the bone at L5 compared to the surrounding areas.
The big problem is that he still isn’t 100% sure that this is what is causing my pain. In fact, it would be unusual for the annular tear to be the source of my problems. However, in his words, “this is all we have to hang our hat on right now.”
There is definitely an abnormality in the disc. So, we will treat that problem and see if the pain is relieved. We talked about the moderate relief that I got from the steroids; he was hoping for a bigger effect.. We talked about how I wasn’t getting any relief from the gabapentin. He wrote down some instructions for me to gradually increase the dose of the gabapentin over the next week or so, in the hopes that I can get some relief. Then he made a referral to the pain management doctor at their clinic.
The consensus is that I will probably end up with an injection into the area of the tear. The doctor I was seeing doesn’t do the injections, so that is why the referral was made. I tried to schedule the first available appointment with this provider, but I still can’t get in for 2 1/2 weeks. And I will have to go to the Wausau office which is a little bit of a further drive. It is worth it to me to drive a bit in order to get the earlier appointment. I also had them put me on a cancelation list. I was sent home with several pages of paperwork that need to bee completed and mailed back before my appointment. I filled them out immediately when I got home and sent them out in today’s mail. I don’t want there to be any delay.
I also talked with the doctor about what I can do as far as activity. I went swimming last night and it was great to get my heart rate up and to do some purposeful movement. And, my streak of not drowning is still intact! (I am really inept at swimming, but I had some friends there who were giving me pointers.) The doctor said that swimming was excellent. He encouraged me to do that as much as I am able. It will help prevent too much muscle atrophy and any little bit of endorphins is going to help at this point. I asked him about riding my bike. He said that I should give it a try. If it hurts, stop. If it doesn’t hurt, feel free to continue up to a moderate intensity.
These are both really encouraging. I am going to have Tim help me get my bike out of the basement, where I stored it for the winter. We’ll get the tires pumped up and I will try to take it for a spin this weekend. I’m hoping for the best.
As for the swimming, I can’t wait to go back. Last night was really a challenge because I kept ending up with a ton of water in my nose. I would get really anxious trying to regulate my breathing and end up completely out of breath halfway down the pool. My friends gave me a few pointers and eventually I was able to make it all the way to the end of the pool without freaking out and having to stop. My mantra became: “Running was hard at first.” Swimming is a challenge. I remember when I started running. It was tough and I would get really tired after only a mile or so. But, I worked my way up to a marathon. Twice. It took a lot of time and hard work. This will be the same.
I am determined to learn how to swim so that once the injury is healed, I will be ready to tackle a triathlon! Be prepared for posts detailing my attempts at learning to swim.
If you are the praying type, I’d appreciate prayers for healing…and for my mental stability. This has been a long road and I feel like I am hanging on by a thread. I hope that the chance to exercise will help. My mood has been pretty unstable lately. I need to find my strength again. I know this journey isn’t over and I am going to need some help to power through.