Daily Archives: January 22, 2014

Degenerative Disc Disease


Copyright: Unknown

For years, I have had back pain. I tried, successfully, to live with it, kind of like an unwanted guest that won’t go away, I have learned to compromise my life-style. I have made the best of a bad situation, adjusting my life according to how my unwanted guest would react to things that I might do. For instance, if I am going to be working outside, hand-raking leaves on our acre-plus land, I work slowly, deliberately, so I can respond to any grunts, stabbing pain or motion lock-ups the unwanted guest may send my way.

Recently, after the colonoscopy, I have been in constant pain, a pain to which I was accustomed but now, it is causing me to stop whatever I am doing, much quicker in my activities than before. I wondered what type of acrobatic positions they may have twisted my body into while performing the colonoscopy. I decided that I needed to visit my family doctor.

Yesterday’s visit went well. Dr. P. listened, felt, then asked me to stand and bend forward while he had his hands on either side of my lumbar spine.


Copyright: MMG

“Wow!” He told me that my lumbar spine was “STRAIGHT”, displaying with his hand how a normal spine should flex while bending, mine remains like a swinging gate, unflexible. He wrote out an order for x-rays, physical therapy, Flexeril (muscle relaxer), Mobic (anti-inflammatory) and Percocet (pain) and told me that we would probably end up with an MRI at some point after the P.T. started.

I stopped by the pharmacy on the way home, had lunch with my husband and Googled the exact location of the Health Plex where the x-rays would be taken. Within three hours of leaving my doctor’s office, his nurse phoned me with the x-ray results. Her voice was shaking and I knew the news was going to be bad because while sitting in the x-ray room waiting for the technicians to ‘ok’ the films, I peeked and saw what I thought was scoliosis. When I told her that I thought it was scoliosis, she told me no, but it is bad. “You have SEVERE degenerative disc disease! Your spine has been through extreme wear and tear!” Whew, I was starting to worry that it might be something serious like a growth – more cancer! This little brochure from Houston Methodist Orthopedics explains, in a nutshell, the symptoms, causes and various treatments for this condition.

Meanwhile, my shortness of breath still occurs. I have been through the CT Scan which showed no problems, visited with a cardiologist who tells me that my heart is strong and functions normally but he is waiting for the results from my sleep test which occurs tomorrow night (01/22/14). While visiting with my family doctor yesterday, he listened to my lungs and shook his head, “Your airways are VERY clear! Your breathing is strong and unobstructed!”


Copyright: MAD Magazine

So, what the heck is wrong with my breathing? Could something have happened during my bilateral mastectomy surgery? If so, why wouldn’t it show up on a CT Scan? Why have I not regained my energy, five months after my surgery? Could it be something as simple as the weight of the tissue expanders upon my chest? Or, as my doctor queried, could it be stress? Am I stressed about something?

What possibly could I be stressed over?