I was a registered nurse for over 20 years when I hurt my lower back and was found to have protrusions at C3-C4 and C4-C5. Upon treatment for the low back pain, I was told that the tingling and numbness in my arms, dropping pots and difficulty turning my head to check my blind spot while driving, were all effects of the cervical bulges. I had "cracking" and "popping" in my neck, especially when my husband rubbed my neck so I could fall asleep each night.
I have a high tolerance for pain. I decided to have a two level neck fusion in January 2006 to stabilize my ever shifting neck. My muscles were always sore and I decided it probably was a good idea to do the surgery while I was young (41 years).
I am nearly 51 now and I still have numbness, but I drop pots less than I used to. My neck pain is chronic and I can't have my husband rub my neck anymore because I feel like he may accidentally "put it out". It feels unstable again. It is different than before, like it may be another level that is affected. I am living with it. I am still able to function normally, but I put a feather pillow under my chest as I lay face down on my right side, tipping my head forward and supporting my neck with the travel pillow, allowing myself to breathe. It is the only position I can fall asleep in. I wake up with pain when I've slept in other positions and need to return to the previously described position. Being fairly sleep-deprived helps me to sleep deeply through the pain.
I recently started using an antihistamine to help sleep as I developed dyshidrotic eczema of the feet and it helps keep it at bay. I take a baby aspirin for the thrombocytosis that resulted from the rheumatoid arthritis. I take no other medications other than occasional naproxyn 1000mg, usually a couple times a month, unless the rheumatoid arthritis is acting up, then I will take it for a couple weeks regularly. The naproxyn seems to "break the cycle of pain", like a "reset button", and I can get my bearings back and function again.
I do suffer from some memory and cognition loss through the years, some may be attributed to menopause, or other factors, but I remember times of having conversation and the pain would be so strong that I would stop talking because I lost my train of thought and could not get it back. If that happened several times a day, I would try some naproxyn and lay down to resume my life. I tried narcotics in the past and decided I would accept my plight and try to maintain my function, to the best of my ability and not focus on pain. I'm not going to spend my life trying to avoid pain. That is a full time job that I don't have time for. I have two intellectually impaired kids that my husband and I adopted and I am busy. "Busyness" helps me to get my mind off the pain.
I recognized early in this process that doctors and narcotics could not fix me. Only Jesus can truly heal me, but I keep my focus on helping others and he gives me strength to keep going. I have been in pain for over 10 years and I'm still functioning. I enjoy my life. My family and close friends know I hurt, and will pray for me, and I will take time for myself during those times. Jesus helps me every single day and without him I would probably be dead. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".
I refuse to let the fact that I am "broken" stop me. This was a real milestone in my recovery. I don't drive as much as I used to, because I can't quickly hit the brake pedal. I am not sure to which disability I should attribute this to. I also can't braid my daughter's hair for her anymore because my fingers won't "do what I tell them to do". I do buy her lots of hair clips though and tell her she's beautiful, which she is. She takes a taxi to school in the morning when I am still quite stiff from the RA.
We moved to Australia 5 years ago where we have socialized medicine because I can't work as a nurse anymore and I can’t afford insurance in the States. The climate is better on my rheumatoid also. I will do whatever I feel my Lord directs me to do to stay healthy and I am still living a full life. You can too. - Donna