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necksual healing

I had my big appointment with the neurosurgeon this morning. The main piece of news that I have to share is that I don’t have to have surgery. At least not yet. I’m going to do physical therapy for a month. If things aren’t getting better after that, then I’ll get some injections (ew). And if I’m still messed up, then I’ll have surgery.

The other piece of news is that I have two herniated discs, not just one.

And that’s…about all I got from the appointment. I had a list of questions prepared, like how might I have possibly done this, how exactly does one heal a herniated disc, what physical activity is safe for me at this point. But as soon as it was clear that I wasn’t about to go under the knife, my mind kind of went blank.

I was also kind of flustered by the whole experience. My appointment was in the Hillman Cancer Center, which was packed with people even at 9 in the morning. I overheard that the doctor that I was there for sees about 70 patients a day. Plus the various conditions of the people in the waiting room was upsetting. I felt kind of silly even being there for my neck as I gave up my seat so that a daughter could sit next to her wilting mother. I ended up only seeing the actual doctor for maybe two minutes.

And, you know, none of that REALLY bothers me. I just wish I would have been as businesslike in response, you know?

But, on the cool side, I got a disc of my MRI images. It took me a minute to figure out how to look at them in a way that made it obvious what I was dealing with, but…whoa.

I also got a kick out of getting a peek at stuff like my brain. In some views I can clearly see my cerebellum (yes, I had to look that up; 8th grade anatomy was a long time ago) and the fibers and whatnot that it contains. Crazy.

So, this is good. To be honest, I had kind of pumped myself up for surgery, since my PCP seemed so certain about it, and saw the bright side of it being that I would be fixed sooner rather than later. But I’m definitely cool without it for now.

17 comments to necksual healing

  • Snarky Amber

    The only thing sad about this news is that it means you don’t get to use the blog title ‘Doctor says I need a backiotomy.”

  • Phew. I know what you mean about being “ready” for surgery; I have had that happened a few times and then it seems an odd…letdown? Not really a letdown, because who wants surgery, but I feel silly for thinking the absolute worst and then getting much better (but not) great news. Good luck with PT.

  • charlie


    ps- your brain is awesome.

  • Darcey

    I am so glad you don’t have to have surgery yet!

    As someone who shares the 2 herniated disc problem (skiing accident, exacerbated by years of typing at a computer), I completely understand the frustration of finally getting to a diagnosis and then not really being sure how to progress from there when surgery isn’t exactly the best option. (Let me know if you want to talk further about what surgery looks like after a neck-side discectomy or fusion.)

    I can honestly say that I’ve avoided the cortisone shots for as long as I can – my mom has been getting them for sometime due to a screwed up shoulder – because I don’t want to have to rely on them and also worry about any build-up of scar tissue in an already sensitive area.

    For me, I found the most success in lots of stretching, doing the physical therapy (and all the exercises they recommend), and though its a bit controversial, seeing a chiropractor. I ended up going for 18 months and saw significant improvement in my xrays, how I felt overall, and mobility in my neck. I even got to the point where I could train (and complete) for a marathon!

    But yeah… happy to hear it doesn’t need surgery at this point.

    • cool! about how long did it take for you to be able to get back to a somewhat normal level of physical activity?

      • Darcey

        This is one of those things that, of course, depends. If you follow the exercises from physical therapy and allow yourself the sufficient time to heal, you should be back to normal physical activity within a couple of weeks. If you’re a jackass like me, and the first day without significant pain you hop into the gym and start running, you’re going to be in a never-ending cycle of injuries.

        It is FAR better to allow your body to heal and spend an extra week or so doing low-impact activity (the pool is a GREAT alternative) than to consistently exacerbate your injury.

  • Oh thanks christ.

    Also, best xrays EVER. xoxo

  • Yay for no surgery!
    Double Yay on the blog post title…necksual healing. Ha, that cracked my shit up. I will never be able to hear that song the same way again.

    (It’s a bad habit of mine – announcing certain maladies with songs. My annoying favorite involves a cyst I once had on my wrist. Just like Hall & Oates sang about someone’s kiss being on their list. Because a cyst…a cyst is on my wrist!)

  • rachelraven

    No surgery is good stuffs!

    George gets injections into his lumbar spine, but ew, ow, upper stuff (cervical, thoracic) gives me the willies. Especially cervical.

    And that cerebellum also should have things like, “Walking upright, not falling over, not leaning,” on it, too. :)

    Hope the PT gives relief!

  • Em

    Wow! Still reeling over the xrays. So glad you don’t have to have surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’m sure you will kick some ass at physical therapy. So much of this is shudder-worthy, but I’m really happy you got to see what’s in your cranium. So cool.

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