I’ve been in a pretty bad flareup lately, enduring daylong 6s on the 1-10 pain scale and almost every symptom of every issue. Needless to say, I’ve not been moving much, and I try to be very careful when I do move to avoid dislocating a joint, pulling a muscle, moving my head the wrong way and pinching something, etc. I know to be careful with my spine because of how loose it can get.
Last night, I guess I wasn’t careful enough.
I squatted and leaned out about a foot in front of me to the left, grabbed the dog’s lead and hooked him up, and I reached up to the door handle and my cane as he went out. Just as I was starting to stand, I felt at least three distinct pops: one at the base of my skull, one between my shoulder blades, and one level with the bottom of my ribs. It was as if that section and my skull decided not to travel along with the rest of me and just dropped down with gravity when the rest took off. Now, I know I was standing up slowly. I’ve been doing that for probably a month straight because I’ve been so weak and unsteady overall that it’s now my normal. So, simply rising up was enough for my spine to subluxate and tug or press on my spinal cord.
Immediately, my heart fluttered and then started racing. I got short of breath and could only take small shallow breaths. I saw about half a second of absolute black, but I may have involuntarily closed my eyes. Then I was seeing stars and everything around me was blackened but still visible. There was a cascade of searing pain, pins and needles, and migrating numbness running down my back from my ribs through my left foot and toes. My hands and right hip and leg were fine at first.
I yelled for my husband and woke him up. He helped me into the living room so I could lay flat for a while and see if things adjusted back into place. My breathing and heart calmed just a bit, and my vision got back to normal lighting but stayed blurry. As soon as I sat up, though, the world started spinning again. It took me a few minutes to make it up off the floor so we could go to bed, maybe twenty minutes after it happened.
I spend the next couple hours on my back on a memory foam mattress and pillow, with rolling spots of numbness, tingling, ‘pins and needles’, and searing pain running from the base of my head down through my torso, legs, feet, and toes on both sides. My arms and hands would get a jolt of pins and needles every so often, but not as much as the rest of me. I had a rock hard water balloon trying to blow my skull apart, and it was making my throat want to collapse in on itself. If I kept my head cocked back, it was easier to breath, but I had to be careful – any slight move triggered a new wave of prickly pain spasms. I also had head to toe, both sides of my body, uncontrollable jerking. Some spasms were forceful enough, they moved my spine and added another wave of symptoms.
And it hurt SO BAD.
Had I not already survived something similar, or had I not learned enough about my conditions, or if I were less in tune with my body, I’m sure the pain would’ve knocked me out, and I would have been going to an ER that knows less about my conditions and how to be helpful than I do AND has already written me off as a drug/attention-seeking psych case. (Both of them. We have two hospitals in town, and both ERs have given me horrible, traumatic experiences. I avoid them like the plague now.) No thanks. I’ll just work through this on my own, assholes.
So, I focused on my breathing, trying to get it under control. I went inward and focused my energy on relaxing my spine and getting the mischievous vertebrae back into place. There seemed to be a rotating cannon going off in my head, shooting waves of numbness and prickly sensations and random spasms of different body parts. I hovered right between a 9 and a 10 on the pain scale for the remainder of my night, crying into my ears for quite a while.
Hubby laid there holding my hand until we fell asleep, asking periodically what he could do.
“There’s nothing to do but ride it out.”
I felt both our hearts break a little when I told him that. It’s the truth, though. My spine and skull were misaligned and needed to be put back in position. Imagine someone grabbing your spinal cord from the middle of your back and yanking on it, pulling your brain down and the nerves in your toes up. Then imagine, when they let go, everything trying to worm its way back to its home spot. That’s what I felt like I was doing – tucking my brain back into my skull, and stretching all m tiny little nerve fibers back into the weave of my body.
It’s unsafe for me to use force or sudden movements, so slowly and smoothly, I stretched and bent and twisted and wiggled and did what my body told me to do in order for things to relax back into appropriate, functional positions. Typically, I’ll bend my hands behind my back and use the backs of my wrists to do a modified Logan Technique chiropractic adjustment, gently working the muscles right next to the spine so that they loosen things back into place. Unfortunately, a spasm hit in my shoulder while trying some of that, and I almost injured myself further so it was not an option until today.
You might remember from another post that I can’t take pain meds. I just don’t process them properly and wind up with either no effect at all or all the “less than one percent” side effects and can’t tolerate them. So, I cried, and I squeezed my husband’s hand, and I breathed my way through it until I fell asleep.
I’ve been able to be up a little today, hovering between 6 and 8 on the pain scale. I can feel it, waiting, just a split second away from a repeat episode. The Orthotist will be here on Friday with a back brace. I emailed my neurologist about what happened and my desire for both a neck brace and positional MRIs of my head and spine. He has not responded yet.