I'm coming to you on a personal level. We're going to talk about one in a billion birth defect, and how my experience and experiments may be able to help you if you suffer from excruciating lower back pain.
My followers that have been around for a long time know I'm disabled. I was born with a one in a billion birth defect in my back. The birth defect isn't what left me disabled, it was the unexpected snap apart of said defect. Almost two months before my seventeenth birthday, I was thrown through a door in a fight. (Yes, I was a regular scrapper in my earlier years). I laid in the splintered remains of the door, allowing myself to lose my first fight ever, while crying my eyes out. This was a pain I had never felt in my entire life. The person I was fighting was my own father. He had PTSD from Nam, and this was the worst flashback yet. I handled his flashbacks, but this one caused us to be at war with each other. When he finally snapped back to, he asked all the normal questions, mainly wanting to know why I was on the floor and what in the blue hell happened to my door. My sister and I explained it to him, he helped me to my feet and patched the door.
A week later, Dad and I were talking, while I sat in the normal teenage slacker fashion. We talked regularly. My mother had abandoned us when I was four and my little sister was two, I lost my childhood to work and help take care of my sister and father. My Dad used to tell everyone I raised the whole family. I don't know how true that would be, but we became best friends due to the nature of our family. He was telling me deep secrets again. "Dad, I feel like I'm going to pass out and my legs are feeling weird," and it started. He told me to stand up and sit up straight, that would do the trick. I lifted myself up, and fell flat on my face. We did this four times before I drug myself to bed. The next morning, my left leg was stuck in a bent position and my right leg was stuck in a straight position. My dad and I figured I could use crutches, throw my weight with my arms onto the straight leg, and continue with school. It worked for a while, and all was good.
I was getting ready for the lead role in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Hermia) and was an honors student. Marymount Manhattan wanted me and several colleges were offering full scholarships. I was already taking college courses and readying myself for a major in psychology. (I bought the books and was absorbing all the knowledge I could get.) I would attend college while in the military, fulfilling the lineage my family had for service. I had too much to lose, so I continued dealing with the pain of the crutches to make it to school every day.
We went to Dr. Armour, our family chiropractor. He put seven, count them, SEVEN vertebrae, back into place. (Who knew you could hit a door that hard.) I'll never forget that day. He said it might hurt a little (yes, I felt what was going although I couldn't much move). When he went to snap back in my dad heard one uttered guttural sound, and I didn't move or make a sound. I couldn't even breathe for a minute. I think, to this day, that it hurt worse to have them snap out of place, than to have them snapped back into place. He lowered the table after I got my air back, and I crumpled to the floor. The straight leg couldn't hold my weight. Poor Dr. Armour tried everything in his power (he didn't use x-rays, etc) to make me walk, and with tears, had to tell my dad and I there was nothing else he could do. He was at a loss. My heart broke for him when I saw his sorrow.
My girlfriend (I believe she was my fiance at this time), Krissy and Dad finally convinced me to go to the e.r. The doctors there learned I threw a mean fist quick. Dad was smart enough to grab my fist, so the doctors missed the blow. They kept wanting to force the straight leg bent and the bent leg straight. No offense, but pain of that nature would make ANYONE swing! They had me in tears, that is pain I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. They figured, with the knowledge of seven vertebrae being popped back in, it had to be a bulged disc. Here comes the first ever x-rays and mri's I can remember. I'm not a fan of mri's. You feel like you're in a coffin. They scratched their heads, for it wasn't what they thought, and couldn't figure out what it was. They gave me meds for the pain, the muscle tightness, and the swelling, and referred me to an orthopedic specialist.
No offense, but if all orthopedic specialists are like the few I had, they need to hang up their practice! What a joke! I was now wheelchair bound. I would crawl around the house, dragging my legs behind me, pulling myself up on things to do them (the "don't sit on the counter" rule went out the window). The whole time, it was mri after mri, x-ray after x-ray, and hallucinogenic medication after the other. It was a nightmare! They sent me to physical therapy, which did no good. They sent me to every test possible, they just kept scratching their heads. I needed homebound schooling, for the school was not handicap accessible. The doctors wouldn't sign off for it, believing they would gain intelligence overnight. The school told my teachers to give me 0's on everything. Mrs. Dean and Mr. Brady continued to give me 100's (I believe they were the only two), fully aware of the situation. I had a hard choice. Drop out or flunk out. With tears in my eyes, I gave up on my dreams, and told my dad to pull me out. He went to the school the next morning, and let me drop out. He couldn't understand why a school would not be willing to work with an AP, honors, gifted & talented, student. The answer? I was a trouble maker. From what dad said, the principal was picked up by his tie. Bye bye future.
A month after I quit going to the "specialists" due to the fact they were doing nothing for me, my shooting instructor, Mr. Givens I believe, called me. He told me to go his chiropractor. "If anyone could fix me, he could." I was tired of being a guinea pig, but discussed it with Dad, and we agreed it was worth a try. We went there with the x-rays, and within a minute, he circled the problem. Eight months of doctors, and it took him a MINUTE to figure it out. He circled the x-ray in my lower back, and started with the explanation. It's a one in a billion birth defect. An extra bone came in through my pelvic region and attached to the left lobe of my lowest vertebrae. When this fusion snapped apart, it ate my sciatic nerve. He fixed me up and sat me down. The rest of the diagnosis was ominous. If I sneeze the wrong way, I will be paralyzed for the rest of my life. He started going through all the activities I loved, and told me I would be best off doing none of them. Sorry to say, but I've not heeded his advice. I know what it's like to have regrets. I regretted a lot when my legs quit working the first time, I refuse to lay down and play dead from fear!
NP Konrardy was the next in line to treat me. He devised a "cocktail" that has only been upgraded three times in twelve years. The reason why is I stay off the meds for as long as I can, and stretch them out as far as I can when I get them. I don't want to become an addict, and ensure it won't happen. NP Konrardy passed away in a Harley accident, and now it's NP Van Wettering. I saw him over a year ago. He gave me a month's worth of this "cocktail," which was stretched for three months. I will be returning to a doctor soon. My back is trying for it's last hoorah again, and the company Lou is leaving refused to acknowledge home time requests to get me to my doctor in Central Texas, FULLY aware of my back condition. Instead, people who live in Illinois would run the shuttles available in Texas. (They only allowed time off once, out of 10 requests.)
No, I do not drive. I do live in the truck. I am either in severe pain or am totally numb. I don't belong behind a wheel, and do not trust myself enough to not worry about my legs giving out and not being able to stop when YOUR family is in front of me. No, I'm not forced to stay in the truck, like so many try to believe. It is entirely my decision. I've been asked if I can handle it 100 times over by Lou. Plain and simply put, I love my life, my lifestyle, and this industry. I take the bumps with as much grace as possible. What I do to my back in the truck is no worse than me pulling doubles as a waitress on concrete floors in high velocity restaurants to support my ex-husband, so I don't need people telling me it hurts me. I will be paralyzed permanently from the waist down, it's a simple fact of life. Lou watches for medical advances daily, hoping they'll come up with the answer to my back issues. So far, the exeskeleton seems to be my best bet. No, I'm not on disability. This was Lou's decision. He would rather me be taken care of by him than have the government take care of me.
Those with back problems in trucking, I do have a few ideas for you.
Understand, not everything works for everyone. But, it's options to try. First, take a minute to stretch every hour to hour and a half. I do it to get the nerves to quit feeling stressed. My best friend in the world is biofreeze. It works better than anything else out there for muscles. Drink plenty of water! Believe it or not, your water intake makes a huge difference. If you have a wife, crank the radio, and slow dance with her or two step (do it out in the truck stop in the parking lot if need be, who cares who looks at you?). The swaying of your hips when dancing helps loosen it up, as per chiropractors. Lay down with your legs bent in a 40 degree angle for 30 minutes a day. Stretch, stretch, and stretch. The atrophy those with back issues in trucking have are a lot of times associated with the lack of muscle movement. Stretching forces said muscles to flex. The nurse at the e.r., when we brought Lou there for his condochonditis, explained he could two extra strength/migraine excedrin with two ibuprofen without hurting hisself or overdosing. There is also non-narcotic toradol (sp?) by prescription. The doctor at the e.r. looked up federal regs, prescribed loritabs until the inflammation and pain stopped for Lou. He just had to wait six hours between taking it and driving. Remember, heating pads are your friends also!