Friday, March 13, 2009


We volleyballers love our Advil but 'real' painkillers are new to me. After an injury to my back a few weeks ago I've been on a hefty cocktail of anti-inflammatories, muscle-relaxants, and 'real' painkillers. The type I could sell on the street to help pay off student debt.

I'm uncertain of the appropriate etiquette of sharing personal medical details on a blog but it's all new and interesting to me and it seems like a reasonable act in this case so here ya go: The source of my troubles was of course a volleyball tournament. But to the point - I recently witnessed a GP pick up of the phone and politely order an MRI of my lower back which was done at a specialized 'scanning' clinic just four hours later. Turns out the Aussies have a pretty functional health care system. I saw awesome pictures of my insides! The framework of my spine (and yours) is composed of bones and 'discs'. Bricks and mortar. Sadly a piece of mortar - one of my lowest disks - has attempted to escape. It chose rear exit through an angry 'doorman' called 'my spinal cord'. If anyone has experienced a sensation that the pros have referred to as 'severe sciatica' you will have some idea of the associated discomfort.

I write about this here for you partially because my wifey posted this picture on facebook and, although I am clearly smiling, some family and friends have expressed sympathy and concern accompanied by questions.

I am a fan of answers via this forum so your summary is as follows: I'm not in a wheelchair :) but have briefly used one a couple times in the past weeks. Not briefly enough to avoid that picture. The finest experts have prescribed the following treatment: a single injection of cortisone into one of my 'nerve roots' followed by the often applied optimistic-wait-and-see-strategy accompanied by physiotherapy. (At least they sound optimistic - but as I will note in a moment - doctors lie if they believe it is useful) I will not discuss any other treatment options today. I am now a day or so post-injection. The pain of which - brief but RIDICULOUS - I was so unprepared for that I still smile at the thought of the several doctors who could have, but presumably for my own good did not, warn me. The procedure seemed complicated - sliding me in and out of a big fancy CAT-scan machine repeatedly to make adjustments to the needle sticking into back. Needless (no pun intended) to say, I hope never to re-live the experience. On the bright side the cortisone has worked its magic and I already feel like a functioning human being again. Unfortunately I think it’ll be a long, long while before I feel like an athlete, even just an old one again. Still I can walk comfortably so I’ve gotta give some respect to modern medicine. Way to go... medicine!

I know I’m not the first 'tall dude' faced with recovery from a herniated disc. I've already played enough volleyball for two lifetimes. My life is not threatened - I do not feel sorry for myself and I do not want sympathy from anyone but my wife (and that's only becuase she brings me stuff like cups of tea if I say I can't move :). But if you have a positive rehab/physiotherapy story I'm more than interested. Cheers.

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