Sunday, September 25, 2005

Aches, Pains & Tingles, Oh My

I've been plagued this week by bodily aches, pains and, weirdly, even tingles. Actually, I've had bad lower back pain for about 2 years now (ever since Sweetie started gaining significant weight). But my chiropractor, whom I've been seeing anyway for about 5 years now, has helped me to manage it pretty well. But just this week it's really started to kick in again. Now with more tightness, pulling and "nervy" twinges.

Last summer I went to my doctors in Boston for a series of visits to see if there was anything seriously wrong with my back or not. Perhaps my spinal cord was tethered again, I thought. Nine years ago today (I know, because it's my brother's birthday) I had surgery to release my tethered cord. At that time I was experiencing a severe drop in mobility, agility, coordination and an increase in back pain. The operation proved very successful and took away my pain - but also left me with the need to walk with a cane. (Actually, for about 5 or 6 months I walked with crutches. Then, after meeting my now husband, he got me walking again with only the aid of a simple walking stick he made himself from wood from my parents' yard). I was happy to have had the surgery, happy to be rid of the pain, but disappointed that I now needed the extra walking support - before the surgery I only needed my short leg braces to get me around - no crutches, canes, wheelchairs or anything else. Oh well, at least I could walk.

At any rate, last summer's appointments didn't result in any major news. Yes, an MRI showed a small sack of spinal fluid at the base of my spine. Perhaps, one doctor reasoned, spinal fluid was leaking a little and collecting in this pouch and, as it grew, it was creating more and more pressure on my nerves, causing pain and the numbness I'd been experiencing in my left upper leg over the past year or so. But then I got a second opinion, from the doctor who actually performed my tethered cord release, and he wasn't convinced that this fluid collection was new or even increasing in size. He believed that this collection of fluid formed during the tethered cord release procedure, was not now leaking fluid and was therefore a benign blip on my spine. His opinion was, like mine, that pregnancy, childbirth and the constant lifting and activity of caring for a baby was the cause of my current back pain. By this time I had also discovered that a drug store back brace relieved my pain a great deal. So he suggested I continue wearing the brace, do exercises to increase my back and stomach muscles, and, as Sweetie grows and no longer needs to be lifted so much, my pain should decrease. No surgery - sounds good to me.

Now at 2 3/4 years old, Sweetie weighs approximately 28 lbs and needs to be lifted (by me, anyway) very rarely. I only need to lift her into her crib one night a week and at nap times during the weekends. And this past week I've had her help with this by having her climb onto a hassock first, so that the distance I need to lift is lessened. So it's weird to me that, starting this week, my back pain has started to really increase again.

Last weekend when we were away at the wedding, Sweetie successfully fell asleep in a regular hotel bed, with me at her side, and was then transferred to her playpen for the rest of the night. This gives me great hope that she can fall asleep in her big girl bed here at home now - and stay there for the night. If it means my having to lie down with her until she's asleep, so be it. Not having to lift her at all would be a wonderful thing for me, and moving to her big girl bed would be a great thing for her. It's time.

As for the tingling I mentioned earlier, I've been experiencing, for maybe a month or so now, tingling in both my jaw and hands. But, like the back pain, this past week it really seems to have gotten worse. Before, I hardly even noticed it, but now the tingling is down right annoying and unavoidably noticable. So a couple days ago I looked up "face tingling" on the internet and, lo' and behold, I found there's actually a connection between the face and hand tingling. According to the articles I read, TMJ can cause this sensation, and it's a matter of getting your jaw realigned to stop the tingling.

Good thing I go to a chiropractor. She's helped me with everything from back pain to allergies and colds, and she's even helped Sweetie through bouts of constipation and poor sleep cycles. I'm sure she could help me with a little jaw realignment. Who knew that chiropractors could help you manage so many different types of health concerns. Pretty cool. If only she could help me manage housework and finances too. Oh well.


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