Remember last week? When I said I’d accept the fact the lupus flaring a bit had set me back and that I’d focus on taking a few healthy steps? I did well with those goals. I was on call all week, but I did my meditation and I met my step goal every day. I also made healthy food choices and generally stayed on course despite a busy, stressful week. I even threw out this brownie thing that was less than satisfying on Valentine’s Day! (Yes, I photograph my NSVs to share with you guys – keeps me motivated to see them in my phone later in the week!)
The weekend arrived and I was feeling ready for my weekend goals of a little run on Saturday followed by four miles on Sunday. Then . . .
I woke with a weird shoulder pain Saturday, enough to wake me from sleep at 4 am and keep me from going back to sleep. It was radiating a bit down my right arm, but otherwise I felt well. I considered whether or not I was having a heart attack (It’s Heart Month! Be sure to study up on heart disease in women!) but decided that I felt too normal otherwise and it was on the wrong side of my body. I worked from 7 until noon, but decided to skip the little afternoon run because I was too tired and was getting annoyed by the arm thing.
I came home but felt a little sick to my stomach and my arm was feeling worse, so I told Darrell I’d sleep on the chaise lounge. I was sure my tossing and turning would keep him up and thought being a little upright would help the weird shoulder/arm pain. Then I threw up and my arm kept hurting worse and worse (side note: retelling this, my brain is screaming “heart attack”!). I got almost zero sleep that night and after dozing a bit in the early morning hours, woke to a hand that was numb.
I had moved down to the basement to try to sleep, so I didn’t keep any else up. After I fetched Darrell downstairs with much needed coffee, I told him I had to go to the ER. Sigh.
I do NOT like being a patient. Thankfully, they quickly moved me into a room but that was the only quick part of the visit. After an 8 hour day and a miserable MRI (an hour and a half – or an eternity if you’re as claustrophobic as I am) we confirmed my suspicion: a herniated disc in my neck. (Note: This is not the best pic but we didn’t get the photo of the MRI image that showed it best)
That irregular edge around C5-6 shouldn’t look like that. Because of the lupus, they don’t want to to do surgery unless we have to so I’m starting with pain medication, steroids and physical therapy. My neurosurgeon (boy are those words I never wanted to say) called today to check on me and sympathize with how I’m feeling about this. I look totally normal and yet I’m in pain and frustrated because my dominant hand doesn’t work. We’re balancing our desire to avoid surgery I may not heal from due to the lupus with the need to preserve the function in my hand if this goes on too long.
For now, I have a bunch of new meds, weird pain that gets better only when I hold my arm up behind my head (awkward in meetings today!) plus lots of numbness and weakness in my arm and hand. I can’t write or do anything that requires a grip on my right side (like hold utensils and brush my teeth – Grrr). Annoying to say the least and I’m looking at weeks of this apparently. Joy. At least I’ll finally be doing regular strength training once I start physical therapy. Win?
I won’t lie – it is frustrating to have lost weight and “gotten healthy” only to be felled by things like this and like the lupus. There’s nothing we can think of that triggered this and the neurosurgeons said that was typical – that it can happen out of the blue. I know that lupus and this herniated disc may have happened even without the weight loss and would be much worse at 275+ pounds. However, I’m frustrated. And tired of hurting.
I am so grateful for Darrell. He is amazing. He was off today (planned day off to handle school drop off and pick up on a day our normal before/aftercare were closed). He spent hours reading about my screwy spine, lupus (which probably doesn’t have anything to do with WHY this happened, even if it is affecting how we treat it) and planning meals he could cook while I am gimpy. He’s AMAZING.
Fitness may look like walks and the stationary bike for a while, until the pain is better and my strength recovers enough that I would be able to protect myself from a fall. I’m not sure what this means for the Flying Pig marathon weekend in May. I may be there just to cheer Meg on in her marathon rather than run myself and that will be just fine. I’m not letting myself angst about that too much now. What will be, will be.
I’ve gathered lots of tips for things to ask my physical therapist about, ordered a more supportive pillow and looked at my work bag to a) carry less stuff and b) carry it in a backpack, rather than just on one shoulder. Anyone else ever have this problem and have any advice?
As my mom says, at least I still have an arm. Always look on the bright side. 🙂 Tell me some bright side news!