Bulging Discs, Traction, and Pain Management

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Well, I found out yesterday that as well as having degenerative disc disease throughout my cervical and thoracic spine, I also have a bulging disc that is pressing on the nerves surrounding it and likely causing most of the excruciating upper back pain I have been experiencing for several years now. The doctor wants me to do traction therapy and then see pain management for injections and other pain modalities that might help. I’m pretty bummed about it.

On one hand, I am thankful they aren’t pushing for surgery yet, but on the other hand I know the doctor isn’t ruling it out and that kind of scares me. I know for some people traction works wonders, but for others it doesn’t. I hope it helps me. Anything that keeps me from having to be eventually sliced open is a good thing in my opinion. I figured I would share this information with an old drawing I did years ago entitled “Crick in the Neck” (pictured above). I figured it fit the subject matter well, and it was always one of my favorite drawings I’ve done. If the treatments do help the pain, it would be really good for my art and my writing, as both are hard to do when my back is acting up (since the pain shoots down into my arms as well).

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Feeling Old and Sick

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Today I’m feeling about as old as Bugs and Daffy look in this picture I colored a while ago. I’m only 35 years old, but it often feels like I am much older physically, thanks to the chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. My husband currently has the flu and when he was telling me how bad his body aches and fatigue were, I couldn’t help but think that I’d never be able to tell the difference from my everyday body aches and fatigue. In fact, with my chronic ear and sinus infections, the only way I ever know for sure if I actually get a virus is if I am running a high fever. Otherwise, I figure it is just my normal daily crud I have to deal with.

Sometimes it is easy to forget what it was like to NOT feel sick all the time or hurt constantly. I can’t even imagine living without it all now. I’ve become so used to the routine that I’ve accepted it in a sense and admitted defeat in my own mind. That is likely not a good thing, considering that I feel I’ve lost all hope to ever feel healthy again. I’m not writing this today to try to illicit sympathy or just to whine, but it is what I’m thinking about and dealing with, so I felt it only honest to share. If you are a fellow sufferer, let me tell you that I am truly sorry you have to go through all this as well.

Life is Pain

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Life is pain.

And I don’t mean that
in some philosophical
bullshit way…(or maybe I do?)

Life is pain, whether it
be physical, mental,
emotional, or existential.

The gentle yearning ache
of a heart perpetually unfulfilled…

The bittersweet bile of nostalgia
creeping up one’s throat…

The sharp bite of our
unreliably aging bones…

The mind-numbing weight
of each day survived intact…

The desperate call of a soul
that may or may not actually exist…

~ Maranda Russell

Sweet Freedom

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I finally have a car again! Since April of last year, my husband and I have only had one car between us. During the summer it wasn’t so bad because he doesn’t work, but when he returned to his position as a special education teacher this year, I started really getting feelings of being trapped at home and desperately wanting to get out, even if it was simply to run an errand or two or people watch (one of my favorite past-times).

We started looking for a car a few weeks ago, using some money I had earned from writing and some savings we had socked away. We only had around $2,000-$3,000 dollars, so we were definitely working on a budget. We finally found a good, reliable used car last week and bought it, but we weren’t able to drive it until yesterday since we had to wait to get the plates and make sure our insurance was covering it now.

So now I have a car again!  I don’t plan to go out and do a lot (my health prevents that) but I can run down to the local post office, library, dollar stores, and McDonald’s myself now! Of course, we live out in the country, so there isn’t a ton of stuff to do within a few miles, but hey, something to do is better than nothing! Due to my health problems, I try not to drive more than 10-15 minutes away from home (I never know when the fatigue may worsen, IBS may flare up, or vertigo may strike), but at least I am feeling a bit more free and able to do things for myself!

Plantar Fasciitis Flare Up

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The last few days I have had a bad plantar fasciitis flare up, the worst in quite a while. I have dealt with this awful condition since I was 19 years old, so for 16 years I have dealt with chronic foot pain. I wanted to take a moment today to explain what it is really like to live with this condition, especially on bad days. Here are a few descriptions of what I go through:

  • During a flare up, it feels like every step I take, I am walking with a huge, jagged stone piercing my arch, near the heel. After a few steps like that, it starts to feel horribly bruised and I start limping badly. Sometimes it feels almost like something in the arch of my foot “drops” and the pain starts then. It is a seriously weird feeling.
  • During flare ups, I find it hard to stand long enough to do even the simplest tasks. I have to sit on the kitchen counter while waiting for my pop-tart to toast. I have to sit on the floor or my bed while brushing and flossing my teeth. Showers are out, baths are in. Massages can help sometimes, but other times even that is agonizing.
  • When the flare up is really bad, even staying off my feet doesn’t help. The burning, aching, throbbing pain is constant. I do ice it and that helps a bit to numb it, but nothing else does a thing. Often I wind up in tears because the pain is simply unbearable. I hate to have to turn to narcotic pain relievers, but sometimes do. When the pain is constant and unyielding, I find myself fighting thoughts of suicide just to make it end.
  • Unfortunately, nothing really helps but staying off my feet and giving it time. I do take NSAIDS and muscle relaxers, but they take a few days to work (if they even do work). I’ve tried cortisone shots, but they didn’t help at all. I’m not willing to chance the risky surgery that can leave you crippled for life, especially when nothing else modern medicine has had to offer has helped.
  • Even when I’m NOT having a flare up, I have to be careful, because being on my feet more than a half an hour to an hour at a time can cause a flare up to occur. Even a day of regular grocery shopping can cause a flare up because of being on my feet too much. It truly is an intensely disabling condition for some people like me.

My Story in 59 Words

Art By Maranda Russell

My Story in 59 Words
Written By: Maranda Russell

I am a product of the heartland,
and many years of dedication.

I am a survivor of abuse,
and the proud parent of creation.

I am separate from my family,
but still trust their education.

I hear earth’s voices unite in song,
and join their recitation.

No doubt my life will face its trials,
yet I strive for graduation.

Could Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Be Caused by Toxic Mold?

Hello everyone! So today I’m sharing a book review vlog video I made yesterday. For anyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, or similar chronic illness, or who has a special interest in those subjects, this book might be something you would want to check out! If you have already read the book, let me know your thoughts!