Friday, July 22, 2011

My mind is a dangerous neighborhood

My mind can be a dangerous neighborhood, a place where you shouldn't go alone. Usually, my mind is busy with projects and activities and plans and operates normally. Now and then, though, it seizes on an issue "like a dog on a bone". Almost always, that issue has to do with my health.

My mother never talked about her "ailments". She said no one was interested in hearing about them. And she certainly wasn't interested in hearing about anyone else's. The outcome was silence on issues of health when I was growing up. So my sister and I, independently, developed a tormenting mental dialogue on each health issue we developed. We still have that dialogue.

Ten weeks ago today, while vacationing in the Black Hills, I sat down in a chair lower than I expected. Two hours later my feet started tingling. I saw a chiropractor that day in Rapid City, drove home, and have continued to see my own chiropractor. He tells me a disc in my back is impinging on a nerve root - or something like that - and that nerves take a long time to heal. I have no pain in my back at all, but the sensations in my feet are prime subject matter for the dog on the bone in my mind. My feet are feeling much better than ten weeks ago, but they're not back to normal yet. Sitting triggers an increase in the sensation, and if I sit in a hard chair - like I did yesterday for two hours - my back/feet protest for nearly 24 hours. If I wear a shoe with an elevated heel - like my walking shoes - it feels like I have wet sand inside my socks.

All well and good. The body takes time to heal. And apparently an older body takes more time than a younger one. I had an SI joint injury several years ago that took seven months to heal.

Here's where the dog on a bone gets me in trouble. I think my back should be healing faster. I wonder what else it could be. Something terminal, maybe, that I should be seeing my GP for. Even though my rational mind knows the GP would say, "Well, we could order an MRI, but that would show what we already know - that you have a middle-aged back with some degenerative disc disease and a disc out of alignment that's pressing on the nerve root. And we could give you muscle relaxants - which wouldn't help, because the muscles aren't the problem - or Xanax so you wouldn't worry about your back." Which I wouldn't take.

So I don't go to the GP because I know what he will say. But what if he said something else?

What are the chances, do you think, that I would have a serious terminal issue in my back that showed up two hours after I sat in a too-low chair?

See how my mind works? I talked to my sister this morning. She reminded me, as I have reminded her in the past, that we go into the dangerous neighborhood of our minds when we haven't got enough drama going on in our lives.

So bring on the drama!

And when I go to my noon meeting today, I'll take the back-support cushion I bought last week for times when I'll be sitting in a hard chair. My sister reminds me our mother carried a cushion with her for the last 25 years of her life. I had forgotten.






30 comments:

1NurseRatched said...

This week I've been focused on the fact that the toenail of my great toe on my right foot looks sort of grayish and the other doesn't. Thinking diabetes even though I had blood work done two months ago and my blood sugar was perfect. Thank goodness I start nursing school next month.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I think it's exactly as your sister said, we seem to be wired for drama, from a human perspective. One of the biggies for me in recent years has been to recognize it when it first pops in and then dismiss it as quickly as possible. Most things come out of a fear-based place that grows if we allow it. IMO. Believe me, I get tried and tested on this one more frequently than I would like.

Beth said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

I really agree with you about the media and social network influence on our lives..that said, 2 chaperones for the talked about class trip to Cgo was not enough chaperones for 100 kids.

Living alone since my husband died, I too think of all kinds of things, real or imagined, that are wrong with me.

Best bet would be to see your primary care doctor for a yearly head to toe checkup.

I would love to have some of your cool temps right now.

Beth

Sightings said...

Hmmm, didn't know you were a hypochondriac, like me. For me the worst is reading about someone with a horrible disease ... I immediately develop symptoms.

I've had a pinched nerve in my upper back for years that sometimes makes my arm tingle. But the doctor sent me to a session of physical therapy and it helped a lot. Still do my stretching exercises, and they seem to keep me out of trouble.

Btw, was it you who mentioned www.airbnb.com/
Looks like a useful site. Thx!

Perpetua said...

Linda, sitting down too hard, which is what you did, can lead to more than one kind of problem. My DH sat down hard months ago and since then has had a painful hip which is only now feeling better. He's 64 and older bodies just take longer to recover. Doesn't stop us imagining all kinds of dire diseases though. Hope your back recovers soon.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Given the time and a few symptoms, our imaginations can run wild. I guess, as Teresa mentioned, thething we need to do is to recognize our catastrophic thinking for what it is, dismiss it and move on. It's really true that an injury like you suffered can take a long time to heal in a body no longer young. An injury like this is a double-whammy: the injury itself and the reminder that you're aging. It happens to all of us! I hope you feel better soon!

Out on the prairie said...

Ahhh that age thing sometimes gets in our way. I rely on the doc for advice, but can take it or leave it.Ask my kids I usually leave it.Hope you begin to feel better,I take a walk when i feel stiff.

Olga said...

I'm afraid we all have a dangerous place in our brains. Mine is not a worry place, but a space-out place.

DJan said...

Well, if you decide to stay away from the doctor because you already know what is going on, that's one thing. I can guarantee you if it's something awful, you will develop some other icky symptoms. For now, I'd use the pillow and self-medicate and remind yourself that your suspicions are probably like you said, just an overactive imagination. And I'll be thinking positive thoughts and sending them your way! :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

I agree with Djan. Were it something serious, symptoms would not be moderating but getting worse along with new ones.
I tend to hit the Internet, look for the most innocent problem my symptoms could possibly be then I forget about it.
Hum, don't ostriches work that way? Oh well, works for me.

Cheryl said...

Having had cancer I certainly know how the mind can take you to places you don't want to go. I have a few rules now with regard to my health. Never be afraid to ask for a second and even a third opinion, and read up and decide for yourself. It's your body, listen to it and do what's right for you. If the mind keeps growing the issues definitely get a second check soon to put it to rest. Hoping all heals quickly and thanks for keeping up with my kangaroo blog.

Rita said...

Since I have had really bad fibro and OA for so many years and am in pain 24/7 I have developed a kind of detachment from my body. I could be dying of something horrible and I'd be the last to know--ROFL! ;)

Linda Reeder said...

When I finally got my diagnosis for anesthesiology, a spine alignment disorder, I started treating my back well, used a lumbar cushion, and did physical therapy exercises. I still do those things, plus take naproxan. The condition is much better and I seldom get the tingling and burning in my right foot any more.
Now I just think constantly about food.

Deere Driver said...

My word verification is FROWN. Hmmm! I think its a sign. Of what, I don't know, but you walked as fast as could be last Sunday. Those feet and body weren't working so bad in my unprofessional opinion. Does that count??

Course, now I'm thinking about my tingly toe!

Rose
"frown"

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

At some level we know we can't live forever. Mostly I try to ignore that fact, but life is full of little reminders. Hope you get some relief from that back/foot pain soon.

karena said...

Hope your back is doing better...sorry you're having to go through this. Hope you're on the mend quickly...I'll keep you in my thoughts and sending you some good vibes. xo

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"that we go into the dangerous neighborhood of our minds when we haven't got enough drama going on in our lives"

I should send this quote to a few of my relatives. They say I am not patient listening to all their ills. They assume I have none. I just don't mention them - perhaps because I can't get a word in. Ha!

Seriously, sounds like good advice. Back pain is a difficult pain. When we hurt, it is hard to think of anything else. We never know that until we get it. Take good care and feel better soon.

Sandi said...

Oh, I know that dangerous neighborhood of the mind so well! As I've had more than my share of health issues the last few years, I now call the doctor to ease my mind. Right now, I'm recovering from knee surgery and my mind has had me in all kinds of scary places the past two weeks. So, I called the doctor, who wasn't in, but the nurse relieved my most fearful fears!

Good luck with your feet!

whalechaser said...

Looks like you've already gotten quite a lot of good advice, but I will throw in my two cents worth. remember me? the one who fell off the roof in Louisiana? Well after the operation I still had tremendous pain...due to all the bruising and trauma to the muscles. BUT the thing that has brought me back to 99.9% of my original state is Physical Therapy. So your doc has to send you and when you go, they will show you what exercises to do to strengthen the area that is weak. once you do that, over time, you will feel better than you have in a long time! If you problem is related to a core weakness which led to your back being strained which leads to your feet tingling.

Hey, what do want for 2 cents anyway?

schmidleysscribblins said...

I am in the "It will get better and go away" camp. My back problems started when I was 15, so why should I think they are going to go away anytime soon. They aren't. I hope your condition is temporary. Good Luck, Dianne

June said...

I know a couple of people who were feeling Just Fine and went for regular checkups and found out they had terrible ailments. The moral of that story is: If you're feeling bad there may be something wrong and if you're feeling fine there maybe something wrong.
So you might as well not worry about it. Fix everything that's wrong and you'll get hit by a bus: That's my motto.

Retired English Teacher said...

I hear you load and clear. I understand the neighborhood where your mind lives. I live there too.

I have lumbar problems and cervical problems in the spine. I have ignored the numbness and occasional pain for years. Now after having an MRI, I find that my problems are quite severe and must be addressed. I think we can wait to long to get treatment. I also think things grow bigger in my mind than they are. This makes it difficult to make a decision on getting medical treatment.

#1Nana said...

This one made me laugh. My mother was the opposite of yours and talked nonstop about her aches and pains. Going to her doctors, a different specialist for each ache and pain, was her social life. Because I resist turning into my mother, I try to avoid my doctor and I downplay the seriousness of my medical issues. My GP lectures me everytime I see him about making timely followup appointments. I wonder what bad habits I've instilled in my children because of my behaviors?

Dee said...

Oh, Linda, I, too, hear you loud and clear. While doing a "Light" treatment for mycosis fungoides last week, I burnt my face badly. I could have stood in the street and been the stop light for cars! Of course, I'm on the phone to the nurse asking if I've done irreparable harm. More cancer? She calmed me down, but there's still that niggling doubt. As Teresa and your sister so wisely said, "We seem to be wired for doubt." Hope the rest of your recovery goes smoothly. Peace

Anything Fits A Naked Man said...

That was a very wise observation on your sister's part. I'm like that, too. If I don't have enough to worry about, I tend to create drama without even realizing it!

I bet you'll be feeling better again before you know it! Please keep us posted!

wheels4me said...

I have that same dangerous neighborhood in my mind. I slightly bruised my forearm last month from leaning on it too long at a concert. When I woke up the next morning with a sore forearm, my first thought was sure I had bone cancer! Later that day, I was miraculously cured.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

I too go to the dark side a lot, its human nature to obsess over stuff when we aren't feeling normal right? Whatever normal is I suppose! I'm sure everything will turn out okay as long as you keep up with the part where you take care of yourself & plan in advance like you are doing with the support pillow, etc.

marciamayo said...

I obsess on things too. I have a theory that, if I worry enough, all will be well.

schmidleysscribblins said...

Exellent post. I am the type who wakes up in the early morning hours and begins fretting. I am trying to break the habit. Perhaps you will have some suggestions for overcoming this penchant for cleaning up the wreckage of the future. I like the pillow idea. Makes sense to me. How wise your sister is to remember what good old Mom did.

PS I think I left a commment yesterday, but I forget. Perhaps forgetting is a blessing in disquise? Dianne

Deb Shucka said...

One of your best posts ever. I can really relate to this - the worry that things are taking too long, or are worse than you think. I've even had a similar imaginary conversation with my GP (in which she said similar things back to me).

It's nice you and your sister have each other to remind when one gets lost in her mind.