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Neck Update

I am almost afraid to type this. And if I awake tomorrow with crippling neck pain, I’m going to just know that I tempted fate and did myself in by declaring that my neck is better. A lot better.

Immediately after my MRI results came in, I called my brother to commiserate about them and to find out if he knew the neurosurgeon to whom I had been referred. Surprisingly, one of the first things he told me was that my MRI results may have nothing to do with my problems. Bulges and herniations are a normal part of the aging process, he informed me. And while my neck might be going south a bit ahead of schedule—I clearly inherited some vulnerabilities from my mother and grandmother—my problem might have little to do with that.  He hemmed and hawed a bit over the spinal stenosis at C4-C5  and interference with nerve root at C5-C6, but urged me to begin with physical therapy and give it my all.

I have, and it’s worked. Twice a week I spend ten of the longest minutes in my life on an arm bike. The rest of my exercise routine takes about 30 minutes. Then Tim, my therapist, comes over to assess, massage, and adjust. The first few sessions he made my spine sound like popcorn and I ended with a weird electrode massage. The last two weeks, there’s been less snap-crackle-pop action, and my massage has been swapped out for something called traction. It looks like part of a medieval rack, but this stretching device helps ease compression of the cervical spine and increase mobility.

My last pins and needle sensation was about two weeks ago. It was replaced by an odd wave sensation, which in turn disappeared as of last Wednesday. I have some weakness on my left side, but nothing more. Today I required no adjustments at all. What I DO have, noticeably and happily, is more mobility than I have had in years. The stiffness and pain crept up on me so gradually that I didn’t realize how bad it was. I do now, because I can once again sleep on my stomach (though I’m not supposed to, and I shift when I catch myself at it), check for cars in my blind spot without turning my whole chest, and back out of driveways and parking places with ease.

Four weeks ago, my neck moved like a plank. Today, it articulated itself like a string of pearls being laid down bead by bead. I’ve got work to do yet, including maintaining all the lifestyle changes that are part of my recovery and keeping up with an intense exercise regimen. But compared to having a functional, pain-free neck and a neurologically normalized arm, none of this seems undoable. Mark my words, in eleven days I plan to have the most boring neurosurgical consult in history.



One Response to “Neck Update”

  1. Amanda says:

    So how are you feeling today? Did you get cursed? (It is All Saints Day, so I’m hoping you got a dispensation.)

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