I am finally not in any pain

pain

I have been going to Jacobo Physical Therapy 3 days a week for a few weeks and I can’t believe it but, I am not in any pain.  I can’t say that this is a permanent thing, because I do occasionally feel pain, but it’s not a constant nagging in my spine like it normally is 24 hours a day.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, but recently in the last month I found out from x-rays that I also have scoliosis.  I was wondering why I was in constant agony, now I know why.  My doctor sent me to physical therapy and I go there three days a week.  They give me certain exercises I can do for 30 minutes, then someone comes in and gives me a soft tissue massage.

Dr. Jacobo told me that my insurance will only cover so many visits per year, so once I’m done with physical therapy, I’m on my own.  She said they will see me three days next week, but after that I can come once a week.  I am not sure if my insurance will pay for once a week, but I hope they do.

weider total body works 5000She told me that they can give me a printout of all of my exercises in case I forget what they are so that I can do them at home.  I have a Weider Total Body Works 5000 which I can use to help me.  Some of the exercises I do use weights, so that’s where my home gym will come in.  Not all of the exercises will require using the gym, so I will have to remember them and try to make it a daily ritual to keep my back pain down to an absolute minimum, if that is possible.

I’m wondering if I should set up my video camera so I can do all of the exercises so if I ever forget how to do them, I can always refer to the tape, or well, DVD since it’s a DVD Camcorder.  I think that would be a good idea because I know I will forget if I don’t make it a habit.

I bought that Weider Total Body Works 5000 in 2005 from Wal-mart’s website for $99.  Now they are $149 at Wal-Mart and $159 at Target.  It’s $400 and $1000 on Amazon, which is amazing that they would sell it for that much money since you can buy it much cheaper at Wally World and Target.

My gym is outside in our patio which makes it a miserable experience because it’s way too hot out there to use it, but there isn’t any room for it inside the house.  I’m pretty sure I can deal with using it out there for half an hour per day if it will help me with my pain levels.  Although I can’t say that I will get my massages, but I guess I will just have to deal without those lol.

The good thing about these exercises is that they taught me how to stretch my legs while laying down when I start and when I finish, so I can use that knowledge for when I ride my bike.  It’s always a good idea to stretch before and after a bike ride.

I really hope my pain levels aren’t as high as they used to be without going to physical therapy 3 days a week.  If you have ever suffered from back pain, then you know what that constant nagging pain feels like, so you understand.  Most people who don’t have any back pain never understand.  In fact, some people feel that because they don’t have that same or any pain that they don’t think we are in any pain at all.  It’s a “if I’m not in pain, then you aren’t in any pain either” type of thing I guess.

Pain meds don’t always help me.  I’ve taken Ibuprofen, Vicodin, muscle relaxers, Tylenol, Advil etc.  Nothing works.  Although when I broke my arm I was constantly medicating myself with Vicodin which took ALL my pain away.  I think that was the best vacation from pain I’ve been on in a long time.  When my arm healed and I stopped taking the Vicodin, the back pain returned.  I have taken more Vicodin since then, but it doesn’t do any good.

I think I spoke too soon because I’m getting shooting pain in the middle of my spine.  YIKES!  Well, let’s hope that it doesn’t get worse.  I think I will take something for it now.  I bought some generic “Pain Relief PM” from Dollar General for $1 to help with the pain and to help me sleep.  I really hope that doing those exercises at home will help because I don’t think I can take being in as much pain as I was before going to Jacobo Physical Therapy.  That really is no way to live.

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Do I Have Scoliosis?

I have had serious back pain for probably the last decade of my life.  Sometimes my back locks up when I bend over and boy it is painful.  Mostly I can’t walk too far before the pain kicks my ass into submission and I have to sit or lay down.  I can walk to the grocery store from the house because it is only 3 blocks from the house, my back is in pain by the time I come home but it’s not excruciating.  I cannot go for a walk for exercise though.  Before I got a new (used) bicycle wheel, I was trying to walk for exercise and that caused the most horrible pain I have ever felt in my 43 years on this planet, and that is not hyperbole either.

Last month I had some x-rays of my back taken and a week ago my doctor told me that according to the x-rays, my back was curving, and he shaped his hand like a parenthesis (.  I misunderstood when he mentioned something about slouching, so naturally I thought my back was arching outward because I do tend to slouch a lot, but then I went to see him again yesterday and I asked him about the x-rays again and he wrote down on a piece of paper exactly what he means.  This is a normal spine |.  This is my spine (.  He drew it on a piece of paper so I could see exactly what he meant.

That makes sense to me, and that explains a lot why my back is in pain in the middle of my spine.  I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease in my lower spine a few years ago and so I was assuming that it was going up which was why I was in so much pain in the middle of my spine which is why I asked my doctor for help.  Who knew that it was some new problem.

So I use the term scoliosis loosely.  I don’t know for a fact that I have scoliosis.  I asked my doctor “Is it like scoliosis?” and he responded with “yes” but that was not a diagnosis.  He asked me if I wanted to see a physical therapist and I said yes because I don’t know what to do about this and if a physical therapist can help me, then I’m going to go see one.  It will also help me with my weight loss, so I will do anything that I can to help stop this pain.

I called my aunt this week and told her about it, but with the impression that my spine was bending outward, but with the understanding that I had no clue which way it was bending.  I mentioned that I wanted to ask about a back brace and she said “DO NOT ASK FOR A BRACE!  You do NOT want to depend on a back brace, trust me.”  I don’t like arguing with people, especially her because she gets very emotional, but like I said before, I will do anything that I can do to stop this pain.  I didn’t ask my doctor for one when I saw him, but if a physical therapist suggests and prescribes one then I will wear it.

No I don’t want to have to rely on a brace, but I will do whatever it takes to stop this constant nagging pain that I have all day.  I’m not joking when I say I am in pain all day.  I am literally in pain every waking moment.  Even if I’m sitting down like right now I’m in pain.  If I’m laying down, I’m in pain.  I can’t do the dishes for more than 5 minutes without being in pain.  I can’t go to the mall and walk around like a mindless zombie like my partner loves to do because… you guessed it, it causes me pain.  It doesn’t really matter where I am or what I am doing, you can guarantee that I will be in agony, whatever it is.

I had a broken arm earlier this year and I was taking Vicodin probably 3 times a day.  It wasn’t stopping the pain in my arm, but it was helping and it did help my back pain, so I had a vacation from my pain for as long as I was taking the Vicodin.  I stopped taking the Vicodin when I stopped having pain and naturally the pain in my back came back immediately.  I have tried taking a Vicodin here and there, but they don’t seem to help at all.  I have been taking Ibuprofen, and that helps my toothache, but it doesn’t stop my back pain.

Oh one more thing about my back pain.  I have a very large patch of skin on my back that is dead.  I mean the nerves actually  I say that because my back in that spot has been numb for 19.5 years.  It never really bothered me until now.  Now it tingles and the numbing is causing pain.  It’s constantly itching and I’m constantly scratching it and the tingling really bugs the hell out of me.  Scratching doesn’t do anything except weird me out that I can’t feel my own fingers touching my back.  I mean, I can feel it, but I can’t feel it if that makes sense.  It’s like I know my hands are scratching my back, but it feels like someone else is doing it.  I can’t explain it, it’s a very odd sensation.

Anyway, I would really love to just go one day without having pain if that is possible.  I am hoping a physical therapist will help because I am really sick and tired of being sick and tired of being in pain.

Naturally I will update my blog when I begin physical therapy.

Help Me Exercise

Huffy Nassau

I have been riding my bicycle for years for exercise because I have a bad back which causes excruciating pain when I walk.  It’s just easier on my back to sit down.  I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower spine, but since then the pain has gone higher, near the top of my spine.  I have recently had new x-rays on my back and those x-rays will tell the doctor whether I need to have another MRI done or not so that I can finally get something done about it.  I have already lost 70lbs with diet alone, but I feel that by not exercising because I don’t have a bicycle to exercise with, I am probably not just losing fat, but also muscle tissue and I don’t want that to happen, so that’s why exercise is crucial to helping me in my weight loss journey with Noom.

Since I had my accident a few months ago that resulted in a broken arm, I haven’t been able to ride my bike.  It’s not because of the accident, but because of my back tire.  See, it was constantly going flat even though there wasn’t a hole in the tube, so I bought a no mor flat hard rubber tube for it and I couldn’t install it and I think trying to install it I might have made things worse.  The damage that no mor flat tube caused will end up costing me $30 for a new tire and $30 for a new rim, or more.  Well, my bike was only $60 to begin with and I have sunk far too much money into it and it’s old now so I would rather just start fresh with a new bike.

The bike that I want to buy (image above) is from Target.com for $125, although that is a temporary price reduction, by the time I have the money saved it will go up to $140, so that is why I am asking for help to pay for it.  I’m not asking for a handout, but simply asking if people bought a keychain or a pair of earrings on my Etsy store.  Whatever I make on Etsy will help me buy a new bicycle.  I already have half of the money, I just need the other half.

Below are my keychains and earrings and I am making more everyday.  The earrings are only $5 and the keychains are only $3.50 because I don’t feel right about asking for any more than that.  I always feel bad about asking for money, so that’s why I am selling these so cheap.  They literally take a couple of hours to make, so I am working hard for the few dollars I am asking for and also risking damage to my hands because I have carpal tunnel syndrome.

So if you find something that you like, please help me out and if you would like a specific color combination let me know and I will make it.  I have the following colors available.  Red, translucent orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white, clear, translucent blue and translucent pink.  Thank you for reading.

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Back X-rays

back-pain-xray

We went to the doctor’s office today for our regular appointment and I mentioned that the Robaxin that he gave me for my back pain wasn’t helping at all.  That is a muscle relaxer and I don’t think the problem is in my muscles.  I told him that I had an MRI a few years ago and they found out that I had Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower spine and since then the pain has gone up to the middle of my spine.  In fact, if you look at the image above, the red area is actually where my pain is.  The top of the red area is the worst.

He poked my back and of course I wasn’t in pain at all because I was sitting in the waiting room and in the exam room.  I told him that the pain is usually when I am standing or walking for more than 5 minutes.  I described the pain by motioning my hand as if I were repeatedly stabbing someone in the spine.  I’ve never been stabbed repeatedly so I don’t know exactly how that feels, but I do know that my back hurts a lot, so I can just imagine that is what it feels like.

We went to Truxton Radiology and I had many x-rays taken.  The x-ray technician told me it would be up to 4 days, but I told her that I won’t see the doctor for 4 more weeks so no rush.  Besides, I’ve been dealing with this pain for many years, so another 4 days isn’t going to hurt me.

My pain first began in 2000 when I would bend over to pick something up and my back would literally lock up.  I would be stuck in the bent over position because I could not straighten my back.  After grabbing something to keep from falling and almost screaming from the pain, I would stand there for a minute until it unlocked and I was able to stand up slowly.  That happened in front of my aunt and uncle in Palmdale in 2004 or 2005, I forget when exactly.  I had pain in the lower part of my spine, but it was nothing compared to what it is like today.

Just before I went to get my x-ray I saw this humungous fish in a very large fish tank by the back door.  My first thought was holy cow that’s a big fish.  As I left, I took my phone out to take a picture, but first I reached my finger to the tank as if I were petting him, or the tank, and he rammed the glass while trying to chomp my fingers off as if they were inside the glass.  Holy crap that was an aggressive fish lol.  I pulled my hand away and he was looking straight at me.  He wouldn’t look at anything else, so to get him to turn so I could take the picture I had to put my right hand out to my side so he would turn his body.  Here are 2 pictures of the fish below.  You can see my reflection in the glass so you can use that as a scale.

big fish

big fish 2

Anyway, now I am finally getting my back pain taken care of.  The doctor said that the x-rays will determine whether I will need another MRI, but in the meantime he is going to call Truxton Radiology where I had the original MRI for those results.  I don’t know what they can do, but at least they will see where the problem is and possibly give me a brace or maybe injections for the pain.  I’ve seen the commercials for that exercise machine where you are upside down which helps to replenish your discs, so perhaps I will get something that is equivalent that is more affordable.  Who knows for sure.  I will keep this blog updated on that.

Hot patch for my back

salonpas hot

I have really bad back pain that gets worse and worse everyday.  I had an MRI on my shoulder a few years ago and they did a full scan of my back and found that I have degenerative disc disease in my lower spine, and I did have a lot of pain in my lower spine, sometimes when I bent over my back would lock up.  I knew the pain was there, but I was at that doctor visit for my shoulder.  Anyway, since that MRI, the pain has gone up my spine.  Right now the pain that I feel the most is near the top of the middle of my back, but not all the way to the top, yet.

So what I’ve been doing besides using the shiatsu massager and my desk chair which has vibrating massage is I will lean against an ice pack.  That really helps, trust me, but I have been told to alternate cold and heat.  We have a heating pad that I bought at Walgreens that crapped out on me after a few uses, and of course I had long since thrown the receipt out so I couldn’t return it.  Instead of using a heating pad, I thought that perhaps a patch would help, so I bought a couple of these Salonpas hot patches at Albertson’s for only $1.79 each plus tax.

Yesterday after I finished with the ice pack, I put the patch on myself because my partner was sleeping at the time and I didn’t want to wake him up, but I put it on crooked and it was way below where I needed it to be so it didn’t really do me any good.  Although when he woke up I asked him to remove it and put it up higher, but removing it took away all of it’s stickiness, so it kept coming off.  Today I asked him to put it on me so it was on right and he did and I can’t even begin to tell you how good it feels.

I normally experience pain most when I am sitting in my desk chair typing, like now, or when I am walking.  The only pain I am feeling is from the heat from this hot patch, so it’s not too bad.  I haven’t gone for a walk yet, but I did walk to Albertson’s to buy 5 more of these along with my other groceries and my back didn’t give me any pain then either.  So I don’t know if the heat helps stop the pain, or if it has some kind of medication in the patch that helps the pain.  I can’t read the ingredients list and I’m too lazy to Google all of those words lol.

At any rate, it sure is helping me and I really love it.  I don’t like having to spend a lot of money buying patches, but it sure does beat having to buy heating pads that crap out on you and using electricity AND not being able to bring the heating pad with you out on walks.  I really like that it’s on me until I take it off, which it says I can wear for up to 8 hours.  I wonder if it will be hot for 8 whole hours?  I’ll have to find out later tonight when I take it off before my bath.

By the way, I am not a spokesperson for Salonpas or Hisamitsu and I have not been paid to write this post.  Opinions expressed here are my own.

@Noom Week 24

week_24-1 large

This is the beginning of the 3rd week of my 2nd goal to lose weight with Noom.  I started  my first goal on January 5th, 2013 with 63lbs to lose and I lost it with 2 months to spare.  Although I did get lucky that I was 200lbs by my birthday because the weight wasn’t dropping as fast as it was in the beginning, but I think when you have a lot of fat to lose, with just a change of diet it will probably drop a lot faster in the beginning.  Now that my body is used to this new healthy lifestyle, I am not losing weight as easily.

When I started working with Noom, I wasn’t exercising as much as I should have because of my back problems.  I can make excuses all day long, but there really isn’t any excuse for not exercising.  I can do some exercises in my bedroom, on my bed, in my desk chair or standing in front of the TV or even in the hallway or kitchen, it doesn’t matter, but it’s difficult for me to do anything with Degenerative Disc Disease.  I am usually sitting on my desk chair at my desk and of course I have a ton of pain here, but when I go sit or lay on my bed, the pain goes away.

I do have a bicycle and I attempted to ride it on the bicycle trail.  I bought a pair of cycling bib shorts from Bike Nashbar and 2 shirts for cycling, and of course I have 3 shirts from Noom that wick the moisture like my other cycling shirts.  But then I had an accident on my bicycle and broke my arm, so I couldn’t go bike riding.  I bought one of those no flat tubes that’s like a solid rubber tube, but I can’t get it on my wheel and now I’ve ruined the rim AND the tire, so I’m afraid if I buy a new tube, the wires sticking out of the tire is going to pop the new tube, or I might have damaged the rim so there might be metal sticking out of the rim that might pop the new tube.  A new rim is about $30 and I’m sure a new tire is around $20 or $30.  It wouldn’t even be worth my money, I’d be better off buying a new bicycle, but I can’t afford anything, so I have no bike now.

I haven’t examined my bicycle to see if there was any damage to the front rim from the accident.  I bought the bicycle from Walmart in 2004 for $60 so it was a cheap bicycle from the start.  I have replaced about 75% of the bicycle over the years, so I have put literally hundreds of dollars into that bicycle.  The only thing original is the frame, the (I’m going to sound dumb here) the mechanism that the pedals are attached to (LOL) and the chain.  Everything else has been replaced.

Instead of cycling, I’ve been walking which is agony for my back, but I’ve been doing it a couple of times per week just to get some exercise in.  Of course by the time I get home from doing that, I am in so much pain that I just can’t stand living anymore.  Speaking of which, I am in so much pain sitting here typing this that I had to go get the ice pack and take a Vicodin.

walking workout june 14 Anyway, I’ve been trying to walk a mile, but instead of only walking a mile, I will add some distance every time I go out.  Yesterday I walked more than 3 miles.  My back was in absolute agony the entire time, but I didn’t care because I really wanted to burn some calories, which I did.  Here is that workout (left).

I went out with my black Noom shirt, my Noom water bottle and my Noom sunglasses.  I absolutely love my Noom swag lol.  I normally like to go out with my Noom backpack, but I really don’t have anything to put in it, so I don’t have much of a reason to bring it.  If I had a bicycle, I would put my Camelbak inside of it with the hose sticking out and I would clip the hose to the strap to secure it.  I could probably do that on my walk, but I like to hold the water bottle.  I really don’t need 3 liters of water on a 3 mile walk anyway.

My estimated end date isn’t until November, although the Noom weight graph says September 17th if I lose 2lbs per week.  Last week it was September 15th and I lost less than 2lbs this week so naturally the date got pushed by 2 days.  I’m really not in any hurry to be 170lbs though, so no pressure.  I feel that if it happens then it happens.  I don’t want to rush myself because I feel comfortable in my skin the way I am now, so if I lose more weight, then bonus.  The main thing is that I don’t put any pressure on myself to lose any more weight because that’s too stressful and I don’t want my brain releasing cortisol from the stress which will prevent me from losing more weight.  Although the back pain from walking might end up doing that for me.recumbent bicycleI really wish I had a bicycle, it would be so much easier to exercise because then I could sit down the entire time.  I really want a recumbent bicycle though, because then I could sit back which will REALLY be easier on my back.  That would be ideal, but those are REALLY expensive.  If and when I finally get a new bicycle, I’m going to get a beach cruiser or a hybrid.  I mainly just want a bicycle with the big handlebars that will allow me to sit straight up.  My mountain bike had me sitting forward which hurt my shoulder and back, that’s why I had to replace the handlebar with a beach cruiser handlebar.  A hybrid would be better for me than a mountain bike or a road bike (10 speed).  When I do buy a new bike, I will go to Target and get a Huffy because I know Huffy is a good brand.

Anyway, back to reality lol.  This week I weighed in at 197.0 and I still have a way to go to get down to 170lbs.  I am positive that I will eventually reach that goal by September, if not then it happens when it happens.  I will still eat healthy no matter what and I will still go for walks despite the pain until I finally get a new bicycle.

Until next week…

Week 23 with @Noom

week 23 profile

Today is the first day of my second week with my second goal and I have lost less than 2lbs.  I was so hoping to lose 2lbs or more.  On the last day of my first goal I was 200lbs on a Friday, two days later on Sunday, I weighed 199 and a day or two later 198.  So, to still be at 198 sucks.  If I was 198 on a Tuesday, then wouldn’t you think that by Saturday I would be 197 or 196?

I am not going to stress myself out over this because at least I lost weight this week.  I could have hit a plateau and I could still be 200lbs, or worse, so I am going to take this as a positively as I can.

My profile says that I have 0 workouts per week, and that is because I never plan a workout since I don’t have a bicycle.  My back is always in pain and if I decide I want to go for a walk then I will do it, but I don’t want to feel pressure to do it by my phone.  I have an app called Squats that is constantly beeping and reminding me to do squats, but I am always in too much pain to even get out of my chair or get out of bed, so I just ignore the reminder.  When I do go for a walk, I am in agony the entire time.

My pain:

I have not really explained the pain I feel with degenerative disc disease.  I am not a scientist or a doctor, so I can’t really know for sure that this is happening, but with degenerative disc disease, your discs are well, degenerating, they are wearing out, they are thinner than they are supposed to be so it feels like my spine bones are grinding together.  It feels like I am getting 10 shots all in the same spot all at the same time.  I also have nerve damage in my back, so I can’t feel the skin on my back, so when I am touching my back in the area that I am having pain, it’s like I am touching someone else’s skin.  I wish that it was in reverse, where I can feel the skin but not the pain in my spine, but it is what it is.

So now you know what happens when I try to take a walk.  I go out and I am fine for the first 5 minutes, but then my pain starts to come on gradually, by 20 minutes the grinding is intense.  These walks might take 30 to 40 minutes so you can only imagine how I am feeling by the time I get home.  Oh and that’s only 2 miles by the way.  It’s not really that far.  This is what my walk looks like.

walk 2013-06-08_10-45-10

This is the last walk I went on.  I went to the post office to drop off a package, and then I decided to just keep walking.  You can see where it says Oleander/Sunset, that’s where I live, where I started walking, the bottom right is the post office.  I went South to the post office, then West, then North, then East and then South to come back home.  That is a typical walk, and that is only 2.07 miles.

It’s not a lot of distance, but it’s way too much for my back to handle.  I insist on walking this far because I want to succeed.  No pain, no gain, right?  Although the pain they are referring to is from muscle tearing while you are working out, not your spine grinding, but still.

I would love to go for walks everyday and for a lot more distance than just 2 miles, but it’s just too painful, so I can only do it a couple or a few times per week.  I wish that I could fix my bicycle or buy a new one, but I just can’t afford it right now, so walking is my only cardio option for now.

I am hoping to lose more than just 1.8lbs next week, but I am not going to put pressure on myself if I don’t because I can only do so much with what I have.  Like I have said in the past, at least I haven’t hit a plateau or gone back up in weight.  Let’s see where I am at next Saturday.