Neurosurgeon is a slightly scary word. It conjures up images of open spinal columns and exposed brains (what? I have an active imagination…)
The next day, I was picked up by my sister and driven to the doctor’s office. Once there, I met a rather nice woman who walked me through my MRIs. She showed me where the damage had occured and pointed out that the rest of my neck was in good shape. She then laid out my options for where I could go from here.
Basically, I had two paths to choose from. The first was injections into the site of inflammation and 2 different medications, one for pain and one to calm the nerves. I swear I didn’t hear much past “injections”, as I have a strong aversion to needles. The next was more to my liking: minimum six weeks of physical therapy. She said I could try that first; the shots would be waiting if I found no relief. After reading the horror stories of surgeries gone wrong, to hear such mild suggestions was a great weight off my mind.
I asked her opinion about martial arts contributing to the injury. She said while it was possible, it was more likely disc degeneration was at the root of it (I had been diagnosed in my mid-20s). She recommended continuing to exercise once I was finished with physical therapy, though she cautioned I may not be able to go back to the dojo. To me that equalled ‘Hey, good chance you’ll be able to go back!’ Doesn’t that sound more encouraging? Yeah, I can play head games with myself.
The neurosurgeon suggested I try moving a bit more, as staying still at this point was further aggravating the issue. I had been afraid to use my upper body in case I made matters worse, but actually the opposite was true. Staying motionless had basically locked my muscles into place and added to my pain. She gave me a few simple exercises to try until I was seen by the therapist.
Since I hadn’t been to physical therapy in over 20 years (in that case, it was a broken arm and dislocated shoulder), she made an appointment with someone I hadn’t heard of. They were able to get an appointment that Friday. In comparison to the last five days, things were now moving lightning fast and I was in a much better mood as I walked back to the car.
I went home and s..l..o..w..l..y moved my neck and arms the best I could. It wasn’t much, but I did feel a little better knowing I wasn’t going to injure myself by nodding my head. I still had to sleep sitting up and I got tired quickly, but it was a start.
Knowing that people came back from this and that life as I knew it wasn’t over was such a weight off my mind. I couldn’t wait to make my therapist visit and start the process of getting better.