Friday, December 24, 2010


Today I hobbled from store to store in a Santa hat, my elderly behaviour contrasting my childlike appearance.

As you can imagine, I was Christmas shopping. This is a feat for even the most able people. Somehow, determined and strong as I am, I managed to do it with back trouble. Some of you may remember that I have fused discs in my neck, an exaggerated curvature of my upper spine and a bit of scoliosis. These regularly give me pain and fatigue. Well, recently I've been having bad lower back pain and worse hip pain than usual. I've been stiff and fatigued too. This sometimes happens because the muscles in my back have to work all the time. I figured the hip thing was just my impinged hip flexor acting up. Actually, my physiotherapist said my hips have improved, but that a nerve in my spine is "tight" and this explains my current hip and lower back issues. What? Something new? I wondered if he could palpate my frustration.

Recalling the confusion and drunk vision I had experienced the previous day, I asked my physiotherapist Vince if this "tight" nerve could be neurological. He said it "certainly" could be. It could mean that I have too much fluid in my spine. Having a shunt to drain excess fluid from my brain, this neurological possibility is something I especially need to keep an eye on. I'm not too concerned, though. I don't have the classic signs of shunt malfunction: headaches, vomiting, fever. Also, my balance, which regularly gives me difficulty because of my Dandy Walker (cerebellum malformation basically) and Post-Viral Syndromes, has been fine today and yesterday. Plus, I've never had a shunt problem, so because I feel invincible, I doubt this is the root of my current spine condition.

My physiotherapist's observation of a nerve problem doesn't actually concern me much. I imagine it will go away on it's own. I would like to know the cause, though. It's the symptoms that are troubling me. I haven't had pain like this in a while, certainly I've never had such bad lower back pain. The hip problems are much better today, but it was such a strange sensation. Warm, shooting pain. The fatigue goes from my lower back to my legs. While I'm not limping to one side much because my hip has improved, I'm certainly waddling.

This is the first week in ages that I have actually felt disabled. I felt I needed something to hold onto while I walked and stood. I was slow and not feeling well.


I was happy. My symptoms didn't distract me from the giant Swarovski Christmas tree in the mall, twinkling as it rotated under the high glass ceiling. They didn't stop me from smiling when happy children bounced by me with their parents. I love this time of year and I love buying things for my family. Each find really excited me. I'm still thinking about what wrapping paper I want to use for each of the gifts. Today was confirmation that I can be happy no matter how I'm feeling physically. I can also be very productive.

I must learn to pace myself better, though. I need to stop and rest more. I didn't do that much today because I was too excited to continue my hunt for gifts. I will just have to remold my stubbornness into discipline... This is a good lesson to start to take seriously just weeks before I start school again.


  1. I admire your perseverance. My friend, Marnie, at WhatRedSaid told me about that Christmas tree.

    Wishing you ever-improved health, strength, and faith in the new year. Merry Christmas! xo

  2. Here's hoping you have some pain relief for Christmas and a 2011 of pure awesomeness in the health department. And the other departments too, of course! I love me some Christmas too even though I miss those magical days of childhood at this time of year. Who doesn't love a good, sparkly Christmas tree? Merry Christmas!

  3. It sounds like you made a choice to focus on joy instead I'd your pain. That takes a lot of strength. I hope you feel better over the holidays. Merry Christmas.

  4. Rawknrobyn - I didn't know the Swarovski Christmas tree was famous! You do mean the one in the Toronto Eaton Centre, right? Thanks so much for your marm messages. Merry Christmas to you too!

    Jane - Thank you so much! It was "merry."

    Vegetable - Thank you so much. I'm hoping for that as well! Sometimes I miss that magic too, but it's still very much alive for me.

    Acorn - Thanks. Yes, it does take strength. Thanks for appreciating that! I actually got worse on Christmas day... Merry Christmas to you too!

  5. Babe, I really think you should give serious consideration to the cross-country ski pole thing. They would provide you with a LOT more stability when you're out and about, and they're way more badass than a cane or walker. Just think about it.

  6. Laura - Thanks. I'll ask my physiotherapist. I have gotten worse. For a couple of days I couldn't stand up straight and I waddled and shuffled around. I'm still not doing well.

  7. Hi there, hope you had a good Christmas. Love how you always find something upbeat to share despite the health challenges you encounter. Wishing you better health and good wishes for the new year. Mx

  8. I wish I had the ability to be happy even when I don't feel well.

    I hope you start feeling better soon and I'm glad you had a good Christmas despite feeling unwell. Sorry I haven't been commenting much lately and I'm late saying Merry Christmas.

  9. Mary - Thanks I had a lovely, quiet Christmas at home. How was yours? Yes, I try to balance the good and bad here because that's what I do in real life. How nice of you to comment on that!

    Achieve - Maybe you should think of happiness during health problems not as an ability, but as a skill. It's hard work to change your mindset, but you can do it. Feel better. No apologies necessary! I'm still feeling terrible -- worse for several days now. Thanks, though.