(Updated Below)

You are standing at the base of a brick wall. It extends for miles in both directions, and is higher than you can see. The only way out is through.

You have no phase shifter.

This is how it feels when I sit down to work most of the time. Usually I give up. Sometimes I’ll work all day, only to look at my work the next day and realize that instead of removing bricks I’ve just been rearranging them. Occasionally I sit down and plow straight through the wall, getting more done in a day than I have in the last month.

There’s been very little progress lately, because besides emptying a hoarder house, running an estate sale, selling the house, selling a car, buying a car, renting a house, and preparing to move — breathe — I now have nearly daily headaches from my neck, along with the lack of sleep, constant fatigue, and depression caused by this situation. I’ve been through physical therapy, 5 chiropractors, & therapeutic massage – all seem to help only temporarily.

When I was seven, I fell 6 feet out of a tree and landed on my back. My memories are blurry, but I remember struggling to breathe all night. I was never taken to a doctor. Was that the beginning of all this?

Two months ago, I got a new symptom: tingling & numbness shoot down my left arm several times a day, and I now have constant numbness in my left thumb. Finally, after many delays caused by waiting for doctor appointments, X-rays, and MRI, I got in to see an orthopedic surgeon yesterday. This is 2 months after the latest symptoms started, and quicker than usual since my wife works in a doctor’s office.

I need neck surgery. Soon.

 
I have degenerative disc disease, and unlike the image on that page, my disks are bulging on the spinal cord side of the spine. They are pressing into my spinal cord in several areas. I also have bone spurs and narrowing of the neural pathways. I was surprised to learn that I have no reflexes in my left arm and very little in my right. My reflexes are zero on this scale

This brings up many emotions, and questions:

  • #1: A hearty F*# You to the orthopedic specialists at Stanford Hospital, who gave me the classic “its all in your head” line
  • I wonder if my sleep problems and fatigue were caused by my neck all along, and not my gut issues?
  • Did I do this to myself, by sitting with bad posture for the last 20 years? I’ve sat in kneeling chairs and on exercise balls, in expensive ergo chairs and on the side of a bed. My last job had 2-4 hour chairs instead of 10 hour chairs.
  • Will the surgery be a success? Will I finally get back to full productivity after this?

 

I’ll see you next month, and to steal a line from Pink Floyd,

Tear down the wall.

Update

I’m scheduled for a fusion of C5-C6 on Aug 5th. The Orthopedic Surgeon said that without surgery, I could eventually end up with no feeling in my hands. Here’a pic from the MRI of the disc impinging on the spinal column. I have compression of the spinal column on the right, and compression of the nerve root on the left.

Update 2

The surgery was a success, I should be back at work soon!