07 March 2011

Head games

Writing has become an enormous effort. Usually words flow and I write posts in my head long before I get to the keyboard. But not recently, recent being the last two-and-one-half months.

I've also become forgetful, easily distracted, scattered. The spouse puts it down to the fact that I'm working so hard to keep body, at least, together, that I've room for nothing else. Not an unreasonable argument. A doctor I know socially contends that my adrenal gland is exhausted, and I've ceased to react to other things that should be stressful. There is just nothing left.

Everyone assumes that I am in massive amounts of pain, but actually, most of the pain is manageable. Then again, I manage pain by ignoring it, mostly. The only really bad moment is when the vertebrae sandwiching the torn disc snap against each other. About a week ago, I laid down on the floor to go through the series of exercises I was assigned in PT, and that area of my spine popped, hard and loud. And it hurt. I braced myself for something horrible to happen, but it didn't, except for a lingering ache that eventually went away. The same thing happened again today. And it hurt.

Just before I went the spinal surgeon, I was ready to swear that some feeling had returned to my leg. The physical therapist frowned when I told her this, and she poked at my leg, and I couldn't feel anything. She shook her head at me and said, "No mind games!"

Later, the spinal surgeon tapped my knee with his silver hammer, and my leg hung there limply. There is less reflex now than there was six weeks ago.

But some days, I'm sure I feel something. Mostly those I tell this look sceptical. I think they believe I'm trying to evade surgery. I think they believe that I've talked myself into something that isn't there. All I can say is that something has changed in what I can feel. The muscle weakness really hasn't changed. I feel my knee twist away as the muscles begin to fail, but I'm back to a full, normal workout on the exercise bike. Whereas the leg pain was almost unbearable early on, the muscles flapping uselessly, the discomfort is more normal now. Still, when I touched the area around my knee, it was clear that those muscles were doing nothing, that they were lying there slackly.

I've never experienced anything quite like this dysfunction.

I'm quite used to the whole cycle of damage, rehabilitation, recovery, but I've never been through anything so strange as this. That I can't reliably report what I sense is incredibly disconcerting.

Go listen to some music: "Head Games" from the album Head Games by Foreigner. And exhausting. Did I mention exhausting?

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