Thursday, February 16, 2017
Out and about!!
On Monday I went for a long walk with some friends, one of whom had a GPS device that said we'd gone 2.8 miles.
I bring this up in the blog because coincidentally, yesterday I read about a new study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that says if you have back pain, medical treatment may not be helpful at all. Don't bother with an MRI, don't take heavy duty painkillers, for heaven's sake don't do surgery, just wait it out, with a bit of exercise if you can, and see what happens. And I want to testify that they're right, at least for me.
This has been the second time in the last 15 years that I have gone through long bouts of back pain. The first time I dutifully went to the doctor, got an MRI, learned that some of my discs and vertebrae were rough around the edges, and was sent to physical therapy. I did three sessions, during which at least half the time was spent discussing when to schedule my next visit around the requirements of insurance reimbursement (no, not to make it cheaper for me, but to make it more lucrative for the clinic). I quit PT and lounged around for months, walking when I could, until things got better.
Years passed. The back pain returned. When I visited the doctor for another reason, I told her that I was having trouble walking; she said swim or do water aerobics instead. I did that all winter. Still had trouble walking and lounged around for a year, walking when I could. I kept a diary of how long I walked and the different varieties of pain, trying to figure out what brought it on, whether it was good to walk or good to stop. Never could figure out a strategy. But around Thanksgiving it seemed that I could walk farther without pain. I felt great.
Then I took a bad fall and broke a bone in my toe. Six weeks of orthopedic shoe and very little walking. Then, back in real shoes, I could do a mile, then a mile and a quarter. And Monday, 2.8 miles!
Everybody has various mantras for life, and one of my favorites has always been "outlive the bastards". This makes twice I've outlived the pain and emerged on the other side. I know some day this approach is going to fail, but right now, I'm celebrating.