I know where you thought this was going. I was being literal people. This post truly is about the constant low-grade pain in my neck.
(The area that hurts!)
For months now I have been complaining, wincing, massaging, and popping my neck – all in an effort to relieve the pain that often wakes me at night and makes me cranky throughout the day. I think seeing a chiropractor, Dr. Danielle Luzzo, has helped, as has some deep tissue massage. Yoga has DEFINITELY also made my whole body (back and neck included) feel better. But alas, the pain still persists and I don’t like it.
As I have said before, I am nothing if not committed to finding answers and living pain free. Emotionally and physically. Therefore, after months of deliberation about what to do, I finally booked myself an appointment with a neuro-specialist and that is where this quest for answers really began. The neuro-specialist was a nice enough guy and after examining me he had the following conclusions to make about my neck:
1) The Carotid Body Tumor I had removed from my neck 15 years ago played a part in my current neck pain. It was there for many years pushing the muscles and bones out of alignment. After the surgery (and subsequent formation of a blood clot – serious stuff, for real) I had protected the area of incision on the right side, and in doing so had caused all sorts of neck issues and muscle tension.
2) Because I have very good range of motion and no numbness in my arms and legs – it is highly unlikely that I have any bone or disc issues. Phew!
3) Being pregnant, breast feeding, carrying children around, and sitting on the floor (hunched over) for hours on end has all added to the demise of my neck and back.
4) I was now 36 years old, getting close to 40, and in his opinion most people my age just deal with constant pain and that is life. SCREECH! The record stopped.
“WHAT?!?” I said. “I am not old and even if I was old – WHAT?!?!”
“Why do you think most professional athletes retire right at your age?” he said. “My wife and I both feel aches and pains all the time. It’s kind of part of being an adult.”
“Now hold on a second.” I said. “We are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I am 36. I eat well, exercise often, and have no serious health afflictions. I don’t think it is appropriate or a foregone conclusion that I should feel pain every day. I am confident that with some physical therapy, true dedication, and acupuncture I will be pain free 12 months from now.”
“All right, well just don’t come back here and say I told you so.” he said with a smile.
“Oh I will doctor. I will.” I said with an equally charming smile.
With that I was on my way to the physical therapist. And just so you know I had always planned to do physical therapy from the start, but I needed the neuro-specialist to see me to get the referral. I love our medical system.
So where does all that leave me now? I have started seeing the physical therapist (the very talented Alicia Hirscht who works for my very talented cousin Laura Liebesman at ONS) and she 100% agrees with me that constant pain is not my future. My muscles are tense, imbalanced, and weak. After 2 sessions they feel better. Not fixed, but better. I am using a lumbar support pillow in the car and on sofas and I am doing EVERY exercise they tell me to at home once a day.
(Superroll OPTP $26.10)
I think we can all admit that we know it is very bad for your neck to constantly be bending it forward so you can type on your laptop or read emails from your phone. But it is 2013 and we are addicted so we must find ways to reverse the damage done. Posture is the priority here. “Chin up, neck back, and shoulders down!” is now my motto. I have also tucked this little round tube of awkwardness inside my pillowcase and I attempt to sleep on my back for as much of the night as I can tolerate. This morning I told my cousin it was uncomfortable to sleep with the “roll” and she said to “stick with it.” No excuses. She is the professional.
(Cervical Roll OPTP $18.22)
The lesson learned thus far? I am truly blessed to have acquired so many wise, helpful, nurturing people in my life. The neck will get better because I have friends who pray, an acupuncturist who heals, a physical therapist who brings about change, yogis who gently nudge me in the right direction, and countless others who love me and give me advice about what has worked for them.
“On a hard jungle journey nothing is so important as having a team you can trust.”
And you better believe I am looking forward to the day when I can go back to the aforementioned doctor and say “I told you so!”
***Keep in mind, I am a mom, I am sleep deprived, and therefore please do not assume that my conversation with the doctor was recorded verbatim. This is a memoir, not a biography. The whole James Frey thing still has me a little freaked out…