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I understand.

This is one phrase I have not heard lately, but have desperately needed to.

I’ve had spinal problems for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had poor posture, and as a result, I developed scoliosis. Although it hasn’t caused much of a problem in my life for the 10+ years I’ve known it to been around, the past year has been absolute torture.

I accepted my dream job with the Nashville Predators on Halloween of 2015. I knew this job was going to come with a wave of changes, but I did not know that it would impact my body the way it did. The days of standing up for 6-8+ hours a day were over. Full-time work means sitting in a chair for 8+ hours a day. The only times I really stand up are to walk to the bathroom/kitchen to make coffee/conference room for a meeting. Sounds like a dream, right? Wrong.

This lack of movement has absolutely destroyed my back. I’ve changed chairs, sat on pads, exchanged my chair for an exercise ball, visited a chiropractor on a regular basis, exercised, stretched, done yoga and visited several doctors.

Most dishearteningly, each medical professional I’ve visited has had nothing beneficial to say or solutions to give. They just didn’t understand. I heard things like:

“Eh, yeah, I don’t know. Let’s have an x-ray performed, I guess.”
(They’re not really sure what they’re looking for. They’re just taking x-rays in hopes that something will show up. Nothing did.)

“You’re too young for it, but you have sciatica. There isn’t anything to treat it, so here is one week of muscle relaxants and steroids. Go stretch, do yoga or something.”
(Oh boy, one week of relief with no real solution or help after that for the rest of my life. Thanks.)

I gave up after a year of searching for relief or answers, as no one was giving me anything beneficial either verbally or treatment-wise. With the knowledge that sciatica would plague me for the rest of my life with zero outlets of relief, I began wallowing in my self-pity and accepting that this is just life now. I will always have a dull but searing pain in the base of my spine, branching out into my limbs, forever. That was the case until just two weeks ago when the pain quickly became unbearable and tears began rolling down my face at work. The dull, searing pain I have been constantly feeling turned to numbness and I could not feel my right side.

I booked it to urgent care and I was greeted by a doctor I have seen before. This was the doctor who ordered a useless x-ray that came back normally, told me I was too young for sciatica and I just needed to stretch. *insert eyeroll here* Thankfully, she took notice that it was not my first time visiting her with this issue and it has been present for over a year. She put in a request for a specialist to contact me for an appointment.

It took a whopping week for the specialist to call me (maybe that’s standard but that week felt like a looooong time). My appointment was in the books and I started to feel hopeful.

After extensive physical tests, several x-rays taken in funny positions and questions galore from the greatest, quirkiest and most knowledgeable specialist I have ever visited, I finally heard the two words I have been dying to hear. “I understand”. Someone knows what I’m feeling and knows how to treat it. I can not explain the internal sigh of relief I felt just after hearing those words.

Currently, I am on several medications to battle inflammation and pain. As the inflammation goes down, I will undergo an MRI to get a better look at my nerves and what’s happening in my spine. Until the MRI (and potentially afterward), I will be on those several medications. Some of which make me feel absolutely insane. I’m suddenly finding myself to be uncoordinated, sleepy, confused, lethargic, dizzy, numb, paranoid, etc. In saying that, I ask for your understanding. I apologize for any interactions we may have where I seem a little confused, vacant or just off in general. This is not forever.