After more than a year of excruciating back pain and walking around looking (from the front) like a question mark, I have become something of an expert. In all fairness I should point out that I am using an old back – the same one I have been using for 80 years. An MRI scan shows that there is serious degeneration in the lower 4 vertebrae and worse degeneration in the discs. The pain is relentless and unforgiving, luckily not bothering me when seated or lying in bed. The pain is also the focus of my concentration and gets in the way of any clear thinking.
Everybody I meet is a back specialist and it seems 9 out of 10 people suffer from back pain. Theories for the reasons of back problems range from the “design meant for only 70 years” of the back to the “we should be on all fours” solution. Finally, I have to say that no one knows how to fix back problems but everyone is prepared to try – at a fee.
The Orthopedic Department of the hospital was the most honest. “An operation may fix it, but we cannot guarantee any results and you may end up worse off. In addition we cannot fuse 4 vertebrae. Then there is the matter of your age. We will not operate.”
The Pain Clinic at the hospital was optimistic, but 2 epidural, 3 steroid, 1 radio wave treatment and a large dose of pills later there has been no change. The doctor in charge says she still has one more “trick” up her sleeve. Other recommended treatments did nothing. The osteopath who examined me assured me it would all be solved by lunchtime. The hydrotherapy was great – I was in a warm pool with a young female therapist; the various physiotherapists too were pleasant; the Chinese medicine, which turned out to be all about needles, was a joke and Shiatsu was painful Japanese torture. So the weeks and months of pain and treatments have passed with little relief.
I am now undergoing a course of treatment with a chiropractor. He dug around in my back with sharp pointy fingers last week evoking a couple of sharp screams from me. A day later, for the first time in a year I, drove my car without pain. Standing and walking are still painful. Is this the start of an improvement? I am holding my breath…