Oh Universe, Why Do You Hate Me?

Last night I was frantically searching the racks of Old Navy for something, ANYTHING to wear to Chicago, when my phone rang at 8:45pm.
It was my doctor.
Results for the MRI came in and well, not what I wanted to hear.
I have two (TWO!) bulging disks in my neck and some other stuff that I didn’t understand because I was too busy listening to words like “pain for a long time” and “appointment with a neurosurgeon.”
Normally, bulging disks are not a problem, they only become a problem when they “something about entering the spinal canal and pressing on the spinal cord or something like that because OH MY GOD MY DISKS ARE BULGING.”
My doctor said that 90% of these cases work themselves out, if I’m willing to deal with the pain. The horrifying, unbearable pain. But, he wants to send me to see a neurosurgeon for an “opinion.”
I’m a little confused, as in my research I have seen that a bulging disk should NEVER require surgery. So, are they bulging or herniated? I’m sending him a message to have him clarify.
I’ve already made the mistake of researching BULGING DISK (which, I have two! TWO!) Dudes—there are support groups for this and OH MY GOD, people are in pain all of the time and have been in pain for 18 months! And their faces are numb!
I was truly hoping that the MRI would come back normal, because the thought of living with this kind of pain makes me want to fall on the floor and beg God for answers.
“Why me, God? Whhhhhyyyyyyyyy?”
The good news is that the pain, while still intense, IS getting better. There are actually moments where I feel almost normal, but if I sit too long, or if I jump up to scream at a ref at my son’s basketball game, it goes to HELL and I’m all “When can I take my next vicodin again?”
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m pretty sure I know exactly how this happened.
A few weeks back, I decided to take up an offer for a “free trial workout” with a trainer on a new piece of equipment that they recently added to The All Wimmin’s Gym. I was all “This is the answer to my problems! This will help me get jump start my body and lose weight!”
I had no idea these were GROUP classes and because I am probably the most competitive person you will ever meet, I went BALLS OUT during the workout. No way in hell was I going to let the other wimmins (who were are older than me, but way more in shape) make me look bad. I was going to pull my entire body up and down with my out of shape arms if it killed me (or made my disks bulge!) A couple days later is when the pain started, but I thought I was just “sore” from the Free Workout, so I kept going to the gym and doing things like “lifting weights.”
(OMG! I was lifting weight with a BULGING DISK! I could have paralyzed ma’self!)
Anyway. I would suggest if you ever get a chance to use one of those machines, don’t be a jackass like me. Go at your own pace and if something does feel right… STOP. Seriously.
I’m waiting for the appointment with the neurosurgeon, but I can already tell you that surgery will only happen if they say I will die without it. Because um, I was afraid to get epidurals, do you really think I will voluntarily put a knife anywhere NEAR my spinal cord? And, besides, I just read a precious piece of information that said risks include “paralysis and death.”
In other news, I started my period today.
And I broke out in zits on my shoulders, in my CLEAVAGE, on my neck and also on my face.
Just in time for my trip to Chicago.
But hey, at least I’m not pregnant and my Bulging Disks are really happy about that.

43 thoughts on “Oh Universe, Why Do You Hate Me?

  1. Jerri Ann

    When I was 24 weeks pg it was discovered (through near paralysis) that I had 2 herniated discs in my low back. I went into the L/D in pre-term labor and dragging my leg. They wanted to do surgery on me then! While I was preggo! Nope! I made it til I about 4 months after I had my baby and I was still dragging the leg about half the time. I had the surgery. It made 2 c-sections look like licking lollipops in the most beautiful park in the world with no humidity in sight. It was the most horrible thing I had ever gone through (with the exception of being in labor at 24 weeks and paralyzed). Honestly, it was horrible. However, I am a walking success story. Very rarely do I have back pain now. I’m not always taking pills or wearing a brace and I don’t even wear “medical” shoes, I wear what I want to wear and I’m fine.
    I said all that to say that if the epi’s scared you, then yes the surgery would too and should actually. But, there’s plenty of very experienced surgeons out there that can help you if need be. The surgeon I knew had done a cervical surgery on my father approximately 20 years prior to him doing mine, I felt like he had plenty of experience. Add to that a first cousin and an aunt who had also been on his table and were in great shape afterwards and I promise, I wasn’t near as afraid as I might otherwise have been.
    Good luck and enjoy Chicago!

  2. Tammy

    Lurker here, delurking about your buldging disks. My dh has these too, as his recent MRI has shown also. They told him surgery wouldn’t help at this point, but to see a chiropractor.
    He started seeing the chiropractor last week and he felt a little worse the first time or 2, but this week seems to be getting much better.
    Personally, I always kind of wondered if chiropractors were quacks, haha, but it does seem to be helping his pain. And the chiro seems to think that over time with adjustments and then later exercises, etc. that it WILL get better. So there may be hope for pain relief and being able to avoid surgery!
    good luck! PS. Love reading your blog!

  3. marlena

    I need you to do two things: Take a breath and do what you need to do for yourself. And two?:
    Go to youtube and type: jennifer holiday gospel, sparrow.
    If that doesn’t make you feel a lil bit better… I don’t know what will.

  4. Maria

    Ouch! Perhaps, the neurosurgeon is the second opinion that the disks are bulging and not herniated. I will keep my fingers crossed for you.
    Aveeno cream (burgundy stripe box) will clear up the zits in a day or so.
    Have fun in Chicago!

  5. Y

    JerriAnn- HOLY CRAP. Poor you. I’m so glad you’re better today and that the surgery worked for you.
    Tammy, I’m actually going to see a doctor who is LIKE a chiro, but not really. I can’t explain it, because my mom and dad use him and the way they explain it makes no sense. Something about this guy puts these shoes on you and then he adjusts you but very gently and blahblahblah.
    And honestly, I’m fine. I mean, I hurt, and it sucks, but I’m really ok.
    I just tend to get dramatic when I’m writing. PigHunter is actually proud of I am handling all of this.
    I love to make PigHunter proud.

  6. AmyM

    At least you know what the problem is now…that always seems to make me feel better in some small way. I guess I like hearing “No, you don’t have a Rare and Untreatable Life-Ending Disease, it’s just a cold.” Or something to that effect.
    Congrats on not being pregnant, but I’m sorry you had to get your period. And the zits. Oh lawd, the hormone induced zits! Isn’t it great being a woman?!?

  7. Tracy

    My husband has the same thing. He’s in pain a lot of the time too, but manages it with anti-inflammatory drugs mostly. We dicussed the surgery with his doctor, and with the chiropractor. Obviously, you’ll do your own research, but what we found is that the surgery, if you do it, has about a 50/50 chance. It may or may not help you, and the recovery time sucks.
    Chiropractic care on the other hand, takes a little longer, but has a better track record for long term healing. They stretch the space out that is currently compressed, and it DOES take awhile, but they can help tremendously. Our chiropractor recommended the combination of chiropractic and pain management (shots in the back from a pain doc) – but my husband found the shots in the back (like an epidural) to cause more pain than they were worth. So – he just does the chiropractic, and that seems to be making a big difference for him.
    I was a big non-believer in chiropractic care before all this, so – not trying to sound like a big walking ad for chiropractors, but you might just see what one has to say.

  8. Nancy

    I have two bulging herniated disks in my lower back. I have had them about 10 years. I refuse to have surgery, they press right on my spine and indeed there is pain.
    Although this is a HIGHLY debatable subject, chiropractic adjustments do help me.
    I have a dull pain 24/7 … I think I am just used to it … and when it gets bad, I just put an ice pack on for about 20 minutes.
    For me … bulging=inflamed=ice=stops the inflammation.
    I get an adjustment about every three months.
    I had an MRI also, I see exactly what the problem is, but I have heard more neg. back surgery stories than positive ones.
    Quiet down crowd … I know there are some very successful stories too.
    Sorry for your pain Y … look at all your options and do what you feel is best for you.

  9. Beth

    I’m sorry you have bulging discs…and I’m glad it’s “just” bulging discs. Does that make sense? I think doctors like to consider surgery a little quickly, so it’s good that you’re looking into nonsurgical options first. As I mentioned in a previous comment to another post, my mom had a herniated disc and recovered with physical therapy — no surgery. Hang in there! *hug*

  10. Rachael

    Poor Y 🙁 I don’t even know you, and yet I want to hug you. Around the knees. Because I wouldn’t want to risk stressing The Discs, and getting pimp slapped.

  11. Kyla

    Y! Tell your luck to stop being sucky! Because wow, you have not had the best luck as of late. I’d say I’m buying you a drink tomorrow night…but since they are free and all, maybe I’ll just walk one over to you, so as not to disrupt the Disks.

  12. chrissylas

    Hang in there Y! I don’t have any disc stories but I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you. Hope that Blogher is awesome

  13. Preita

    Our accountant had something simular to this from a car accident. Her doctor (besides sending her to a chiropractor) had her schedualed for monthly cortizone(I’m pretty sure?) shots & they changed her life. In about a day she was completely out of pain & back to normal. Maybe they can do something like that for you?
    Best wishes (sorry to lurk so long & not comment!)

  14. Mrs. Chicken

    My discs are a mess – I have a degenerative disease that causes them to herniate. My cocktail – three ibuprofen and two tylenol every six hours.
    works like magic.

  15. girlplease

    you have no idea how pissed i am that i’m going out of town thurs. fuck.
    have a great time in my city. wish i was around to meet you and show you around.

  16. Dawn

    ok, I hate assvice. I have erased this post like 250 times. *BUT* I interviewed a doctor just yesterday who does spinal decompression on this funky bed-like device called an ABS system. Some of our sports teams here use him. And they have had great success with relief from bulging discs. So I am just putting it out there for you to google. And I’m sorry about the assvice. I just want you to get better so I’m throwing out anything I know.

  17. Lani

    Check out the book, Pain Free – A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain by Pete Egoscue. My husband had a herniated disk over 11 years ago, but recovered after being flat on his back for six weeks and physical therapy. Now when he starts to have back pain, he does these exercises for back pain and gets relief… you’ll be starting at Chapter 8. I have used other chapters for stretches for knee and ankle pain. Do the exercises “until pain abates for forty-eight hours” (see page 119 of the soft cover version). I think you would find this would help you… it’s worth a shot, I think. Better than the surgery option? : )

  18. Shamrock

    Surgery should be a last resort. I’ve had two bulging discs (which ARE different than a herniation which has broken through the surrounding fibers) in my lower back for a year and a half now. Done the therapy, the exercises, the epidurals of cortisone, spent a grand on a new mattress. I was too afraid to let a chiropractor even near me, though. A year ago I couldn’t walk the length of the grocery store. Now I’m much better – not pain-free, but manageable with Aleve. Hang in there.

  19. Janice

    Sorry about the pain. I can so relate to the breakout thing and I’m in my 40’s. No one should have wrinkles AND zits at the same freakin’ time!!!
    Try and enjoy Chicago!!!

  20. anna

    Hey, I started my period today, too. And mine came not with zits, but with a crippling migraine headache, for which I ingested much caffeine, which caused me to stink like cat pee. So, Y, at least you don’t stink.

  21. Julia

    I hate to be the opposite of everyone else (ok, no I don’t) but I had a bulging disk for years and it finally herniated in a huge way and I had the surgery. it was that or 10 weeks of total bedrest with a 7 year old and an 18 month old. had the surgery on a Thursday and felt like dancing on Saturday. best thing that ever happened……until I had a breast reduction 8 years later.

  22. Jessica Brown

    Hi, De-lurking for the first time to comment, when I read your last few posts I did wonder about your discs. My husband also has two bulging disks in his neck and co-incidentally these are also related to an ‘in the gym’ incident. After seeing a number of Australian NeuroSurgeons he has found the best possible treatment for him were a combination of anti-inflammatories, weekly physiotherapist sessions and light gym work to build up the other muscles in his body to provide him with support for his poor neck (of the six [yes six] doctors, none recomended surgery) FYI, the best thing I ever did was call up one of the professional football clubs (think an Australian version of the Dallas Cowboys) and asked them to give me the name of the ‘neck doctor’ that they used. These doctors are usually the best in their field (because the players are worth so much)and are so used to seeing gym or sports injuries they seem to have a lot more experiance with this type of thing. BTW one last thing, many of the doctors over the phone expected that my husband was un-fit and his injury came as a result of pushing it too hard too early, it was the complete opposite, my husband is a machine (if I do say so myself!) and this was more of a fluke than anything, don’t beat up on yourself about working so hard, it probably would have happened if you had been vacuming! Cheers, Jessica (Sydney, Australia)

  23. nila

    Poor Y, not a good way to start your trip. Well at least you’ll be laughing your ass off which should distract from the pain. Have fun and feel better.

  24. Helen

    Oh Y, my friend is going through exactly the same thing, same diagnosis etc. She bulged her discs turning her head in the shower so don’t beat yourself up about how you did yours , in fact how marvellous you are to be a gym person who actually pushes the limits.
    Enjoy blogher, zitty titties and all.

  25. FlippyO

    If I ever herniate another disk, I’m scheduling surgery the next day. The seven months of pain (and buckets o’ cash) hoping this & that conservative treatment would fix me (I love chiros, my brother is a chiro and looks for natural treatments for EVERYthing…and he said, “Wow, that’s big, I think you’ll be having surgery”), so weren’t worth it to me. However, mine was huge and herniated and was starting to make my left leg weak, which was making me limp. Then, it started moving into my right leg…and I’m the only driver in our household. Scary.
    I would’ve tried the spinal decompression, but it was very expensive (my ins. wouldn’t have paid), daily, and I knew someone who had it and after a short period of success, went back to being in pain. So, I couldn’t afford the possibility of it failing.
    My herniated disk surgery is the only surgery I’ve ever had. I’m not usually afraid of medical procedures, but the night before, I was a nervous wreck. But, when I got to the hospital, they gave me Valium, and that cleared up those nerves in no time. 🙂 I had great confidence in my doctor, my nurses were great, and I don’t regret the surgery at all. I couldn’t have stood the pain any longer – I couldn’t walk for more than a couple minutes without wanting to weep in pain, even while highly medicated. If you get to that pain point, you’ll know when it’s time to give up on the conservative treatments and let the surgeon do his/her thing. I don’t know how people can live with pain like that – it was incapacitating.
    That said, my brother is flying into Vegas for the weekend to treat my gf & I for fibromyalgia. He’s already performed pain reduction miracles on a blog friend with multiple herniated disks. We only have time for maybe three treatments, but if he performs miracles on us too (I won’t blame him if he doesn’t – I wouldn’t expect anything short of surgery to work that fast), I’ll find you a good doctor not too far from you that uses that treatment method. That’s the problem, there aren’t very many yet, and why I have to fly my doctor in. 😉 There isn’t a single person in NV doing it.
    While I’m gung-ho about my surgery, I wouldn’t want anyone to feel forced into something that serious; on the other hand, I don’t want you to fear it, should it become necessary. I don’t want you to reject something that, if you have unrelenting pain, could fix you. Surgery is a little scary, but the pain was much much scarier. So, do what it takes to get you back to normal, whatever it is. Recovering from surgery takes an insignificant amount of time in the general scheme of things. Besides, you get caught up on all your tv shows and your reading. 🙂 But, definitely try all the conservative things first – Lyrica, Neurontin, pain meds, muscle relaxants, spinal decompression if you can get it, chiro, physical therapy, selective nerve root blocks (unless they charge you $42k, like they did me), etc. If those don’t work, and you’re still in pain, schedule surgery, get a Netflix account, buy a bunch of groceries…and you’re all ready.

  26. robin

    Hi, I’ve been a lurker for well over a year! I really enjoy your blog……before you elect to have surg. check out “pain management physicians”. I work for one and he does miracles on people who have bulging or herniated issues. It does require some injections (nothing like labor epidurals) but it gives a lot of people relief and they avoid surgery. Email me if you want more details!

  27. Kim

    Yvonne, just in case you DO need surgery, I wanted you to hear a good story.
    I had one dessicated and one bulging disc out of my back when I was 26. The one that had herniated out had dried out, hence the term dessicated, and my surgeon said it was like trying to remove cookie crumbs from jello.
    He was FABULOUS. Seriously, aside from the tiny bit of post op pain, I am fine. Seriously. Fine.
    I walk with a little tiny limp because I waited so long for the surgery, but that’s my own damn fault.
    Anyway, good luck to you in however you choose to get treated.

  28. Wacky Mommy

    Honey-girl, I am sorry! I am no medical expert (thank God) but I made the mistake of going to a surgeon for a second opinion once. Next thing I knew I was in surgery!
    To quote my dentist: “When you’re a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.”
    best wishes and have fun at BlogHer.

  29. burnurcomputer

    It sounds like your problem is that the disk has entered the space in between your disk and the actual bone . Instead of being a cushion to your disk , it is “bulging” (a common term that means thats its pressing out). In your case it has slipped into the spinal area that is to be cushioned and is pressing on nerves or the actual spinal nerve. What that means is that its crooked and smushing the nerve and enflaming it. Which can be very bad and very painfull. The spinal nerves in different area controll different areas of your body and can send what is called “refered pain” to other area. Which means that your leg can hurt, but it could be a crainal nerve that is being smooched. …….Your spine is divided into 3 different areas-cervical, lumbar, and thorasic. Cervical is the neck and top upper back-lumber is the top middle to lower middle area, and thorasic is the lower(est) part. I would say STAY AWAY FROM THE CHIROPRACTOR!!!!! You need to see the neuro. to see where it is affected ( and what nerve!!!!) and to see what they say about treatment. You will prob. see a physical therapist 2-3 times a week to do range of motion exercises to see if they can get the disk to get in the proper location and to prevent any wasting of muscle tissue to the surrounding areas. Most people will “baby” an area and end up in more pain because they have overused the wrong muscle group trying to make the other area not hurt. It can be scary to go to the neuro. doc. You should bring a friend with you so you can have more then one set of ears listening- its even better if you have a friend that is a nurse or in the medical field go with you to translate what the doctors say. Doctors like to use either very technical terms to describe what they are doing- this is old hat and glove to them. Don’t be afraid to ask many questions and to get the terms explained to you. If you can’t bring a friend have an office nurse come in with you and help explain in human terms what the doctor is saying. Thats why we went to nursing school- so we can translate to tell you what they really said. I am a nurse, but I do not know you and you are not a patient of mine- so just take what you want from this. Also, sorry about the bad spelling-its past my bedtime 🙂

  30. kim

    Sorry about your discs…I know that is painful.
    To give you some hope….I was hit by an 18 wheeler truck nearly 20 years ago. Amongst other injuries, I sustained 4 bulging discs (3 in neck, 1 in low back). The pain was horrible for the first years, but it has gotten better each year…much better than I ever thought. The chiropractor was my only source of relief……
    good luck,

  31. Suburban Turmoil

    Hope I didn’t cause you too much pain when I dragged you into the bathtub with me! I’ve heard that rubbing stinky cheese on the affected area might help… xoxo

  32. Lotta

    Do you got to a chiropractor? I was in so much pain after the birth of my daughter that I saw a neurologist for months trying to figure out what it was. She chalked it up to fibromyalgia. Then I went to a chiro and after about 4 sessions felt fantastic. My theory is that my very large pregnant self made my back and neck go out of wack, causing the pain.

  33. mo

    A chiro should NEVER be used for neck injuries. Google it and see how many quads there are from neck manipulation. In fact a GOOd chiro wont touch you.
    I have two herniated discs with tears. That means not only did the disc rupture and expel its insides the tear never healed over. It’s like having an open wound inside of you that causes the immune system to continuously attempt to repair the problem. That causes swelling and anyone who looks at the space available knows there is no space available for swelling. The swelling causes pain from nerve compression. The nerves are constantly bathed in an immune system that no longer has any idea what it is doing.
    I have bilateral sciatica. That means I have burning and numbness . The burning is so bad it’s worse than pain. My feet are literally on fire. I have problems walking from loss of sensation. It’s hard to walk when you can’t feel your feet except for the burning.
    I had successful surgery a decompression and discotomy as an outpatient, went home six hours later and used physio to recover..stupidly I went back to work doing the same thing that did my back in. Two years later? I am right back at the start and it’s my own damn fault. Well. I do blame the crazy, demented patient that I had to literally catch before he threw himself out of bed ten hours after his bypass surgery. But..if I had been smart I would have changed jobs.
    About the difference between bulging and herniated: a LOT of docs use them interchangeably. They are wrong to do so but they do it anyway. Some say bulging even when there is a tear because they define herniated by how much of the disc has actually extruded. If you have no disc insides on the outside some docs will stick with bulging, they would be wrong.
    About epidural steroid injections; there have been three recent research studies. The consensus is they have little value. A minority of patients express some relief of pain for two to four months. The issue is they are incredibly invasive and can cause something called epidural fibrosis. Any caustic solution can cause some scarring. You have to weigh the possible benefits and risks. I had two done with no relief and actually became very ill after the second one only to find out I am allergic to the solution used to preserve the steroid.
    I have done physio, acupuncture, an endless amount of drugs, surgery, injections and complete rest.
    I had success with surgery, physio and neurontin.
    Everything else was a waste of time.
    Avoid like the plague the self help guru who has written a book about chronic pain and wants to tell you that the cure is meditation, biofeedback and yoga.
    All they want is your money.
    Avoid any doc that hands you a narcotic prescription and nothing else.
    Disc injuries cause nerve pain..narcotics are almost useless against it.
    If you are American you have Cymbalta..it is the new brightest best hope for nerve pain right now. Yes, it’s a psych drug but that is the issue. How you perceive pain can be changed. We do it through narcotics, anti seizure meds, pot and mood stabilizers.
    Cymbalta uses two pathways and it is the norepinephrine pathway that can give relief for pain.
    Start with anti seizure drugs, they can be sedating at first but the relief they can provide is sweet.
    If the doc says he needs to operate ask why and take notes. Get him to draw you picture. If in fact your disc is compressing the spine you may have no choice but to have a decompression. Compressing the spinal cord is a very bad thing that will lead to very bad things…losing control over your own arms isn’t a good thing. Losing control of the ability to breath ain’t that great either. Remember the higher the cord compression the worse the outcome.
    So make the doc spell it out.
    Are you looking at some burning and tingling or are you looking at loss of bowel and bladder control.
    Your fear of surgery will disappear the moment the doc suggests a lifetime of depends.
    Reseach the hell out of any choice you make. Try medscape for the latest research.
    Learn your own anatomy. What level is your bulges? What nerves are involved? What are those spinal nerves responsible for? All of this can be found through google..chirogeek has some great diagrams and great advice even if he is a chiro.
    Remember that the majority of disc issues will resolve all by themselves if there is no spinal cord compression without any specific treatment. There is a small minority of us that have some anatomy issues that wont allow any resolution and we need some intervention to solve the problem.
    There are answers. Hang in there. I still am.

  34. RB

    Lots of advice already on here…
    First of all, sorry you are having neck pain! IT SUCKS! I wish I had lots of wisdom to give you, but in my own quest for less pain I have learned that
    a) Surgery is best!
    b) Surgery sucks! Don’t do it!
    c) Use heat
    d) No! Use ice!
    e) Go to a chiro
    and so on…
    So far I have put off the steroid injection (though that is my next option) and have been getting… acupuncture. I never, ever thought I would try something like that, but I have to say it is really helping! My acupuncturist combines a session with massage therapy as well. I tried chiro for a long time and it just never seemed to help my neck (though it did help my lowe back) and I agree that them doing the cervical spine is not the best idea.

  35. debutaunt

    They wanted to do surgery on me for 2 herniated disks the 2nd time I injured them. Fuck that.
    I did a lot of swimming which helped. Easy workouts & strengthen core muscles.
    Shit. Yours is in your neck. No more blowjobs?
    I’m of no help. Take care. You look great and damn, when did that beebees get so BIG??

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