Sometimes there’s no such thing as a good choice


Greetings from a hospital in Singapore. This is my sixth or seventh time here in three years. With one exception, every hospitalization has been because of my bad-and-getting-worse-low-back.

Without getting into medical terminology, I first hurt my back when I was sixteen and because it wasn’t really properly cared for then (we didn’t have health insurance) it didn’t heal properly. Over the years it became progressively worse.

Ten years ago this October I had surgery on a herniated disc that was compressing the sciatic nerve root (which runs from your back down your leg into your toes) to the point where the nerve hurt so much I literally could not walk.

Three years ago this past March, I was putting my second daughter (who was just over a year old at the time) into her stroller from the car seat and the disc above the one from ’06 tore.

In the past three years I’ve gotten so many MRI’s I’ve lost count. I was excited that on my last two visits the hospital I go to can pipe music into the headphones they have you wear while getting the MRI from Spotify, so you can request your music. I can sleep during an MRI, but this last time I quietly sang along to Hamilton in my head for the hour or so it took to do my full spine.

We know that my back is a disaster as is my sciatic nerve, but we don’t know the full story. Scar tissue isn’t visible on any imaging system, and can compress nerves and create persistent pain with no easily diagnosed cause.

Six days ago I had eight injections at various levels of my spine to deal with four disc herniations (two in my back, two in my neck) and three surgeries (two for my low back discs and one to deaden the sciatic nerve).

Were any of these the right call? I have no idea.

I’ve been living in chronic pain for the past three years, but the past six months have been the worst. A “good day” became one where I had enough energy to drive to my daughter’s schools and pick them up. My daughters even know to avoid the right side of my body as even a casual hug at the wrong moment can lead to severe pain.

In doing one of the surgeries, my doctor confirmed that there is a lot of scar tissue, because he could barely force the needle into the disc to perform the nucleoplasty. (In layman’s terms, they burn out the center of the disc and the idea is that the disc will shrink back down).

I carry a lot of guilt that I’m not the mom I wish my kids had. I can’t get on the floor and play with them. I can’t run around outside. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to swim with them again (which given that we live near the equator is a year-round activity). My days of roller coasters and waterslides are behind me.

Six days into my hospital stay I’m asking myself if I made the right choice, but honestly–sometimes there is no such thing as a good choice.

wicked wednesday

12 Responses

  1. I hope you get better soon.

  2. Sending you lots of hugs, lovely, and speeding healing. xoxooxoxoxoxoox

  3. I am so sorry to hear that you are in so much pain and have been hospitalized. I hope you can get to a level where you feel a lot better again and the pain will be a lot less!

    Rebel xox

    • Thank you for your kind words. Sorry I’m just getting around to replying to comments now. I’m out, but still spend a lot of each day blurry from pain meds. However, each day is better than before.

  4. I’m so sorry about your health, and I’m sorry that the medical community has not been able to adequately create your back pain. I hope you will get better.

    • Backs are so tricky, and unfortunately no one has created a device that allows them to see scar tissue. Given that I have scar tissue (a lot, according to my doctor who could barely get the needle into the disc that has been previously operated upon) that could be causing a host of problems they just can’t see. I’m hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m feeling a little better each day. Thank you for your kind words.

  5. Don’t feel guilty that you are not the mother that your kids deserve – if you are the best mother that you can be then that IS what your kids deserve.
    Hopefully you’re on the road to recovery and able to do the things that you want – if not, I hope you find acceptance that you are still awesome and capable in what you can do

    • If I were a friend of mine, I’d give the same advice. It’s more difficult to take it. We moms are so programmed to be self-sacrificing, and our generation in particular, I think, take it to an extreme. They are happy and healthy, and I remind myself that my oldest loves to read and the youngest has a sparkle and zest for life (and a passion for fire trucks), and both have a close relationship with me. I’m doing okay. But it’s always a struggle when you feel like you’re not reaching the standard you set for yourself.

      TLDR–Parenting is hard, I need to lighten the fuck up

      The recovery is long, but I am hopeful that after all the physical therapy I’ll be able to do things I can’t do today (and couldn’t do a year ago either).

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