Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Pain in the Neck

There’s nothing like a physical ailment to give you gratitude for the health you do have, and for the ailment’s receding.

I woke up one day about a month ago with a throbbing pain in my left arm and shoulder that soon was so severe I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sleep in. I tried bunching pillows around me and various levels of pillows below me to no avail; I resorted to sleeping in my recliner in the living room which was the only position that worked at all.  I started physical therapy and that was painful, too. An x-ray revealed degenerative disc disease in my neck and shoulder and minor bone spurs in my neck.

As the physical therapy progressed and the pain receded some, I still had a numbness and tingling in my left arm, which my doctor said was likely a pinched nerve in my neck.  She suggested I might want to get an MRI, which sent me into a panic until I ascertained my insurance would cover an open MRI for claustrophobics like myself.  She also said, though, that it might be another few weeks or even a couple of months before the problem resolved itself.  I made an open MRI appointment for a few weeks out, hoping I might not need it by then.  I just hope that by the time I go to the beach this summer my arm and shoulder won’t still hurt when I drive.

I’m not alone in my ailments by any means.  One friend has a bad knee that has sidelined her from much activity; she also just had a tooth extracted and is waiting for an implant. Another friend suffers from painful migraines. My stepmother has bad back problems and several surgeries behind her, leaving her on a walker and nearly unable to travel. My sister-in-law is getting ready for a knee replacement which will leave her unable to play volleyball, her passion, though she plans to referee instead.  Scarily, three friends are battling Parkinson’s disease.

We often take for granted these bodies we move around in every day.  As my arm pain has gradually gotten better, I’ve been grateful for the simplest of things, like the comfort of being able to get a good night’s sleep.  I’ll try and remember this as I did when I had my knees replaced, having gratitude for the privilege of walking without pain.  Thanks, my body, I know I give you a lot of grief but I do appreciate you.

So get out and walk and swing your arms and be happy your body is cooperating, because it’s not a given.