Apr 9, 2012  •  In Aerin, Claire, Motherhood, Personal

Herniated Disc

I woke up this morning to horrible pain in my neck and shoulders.

I immediately called out to J, who had to take yet another day off from work due to my health problems, and phoned my mother to see if she could come watch the girls while J took me to the doctor.

I had actually been meaning to go to a chiropractor for some time now because my back, neck, and shoulders are constantly in pain and have been ever since I was pregnant with Claire (so that’s over 2 years). As luck would have it, I had managed to find one nearby with good reviews just the other day and called him as soon as his office opened. He would be able to see me that same day.

He knew almost right away what the problem was: a herniated disc in my neck. After an examination, the diagnosis was confirmed.

The scariest part of the examination was when he was checking my reflexes. Because as it turns out, my nerves are so damaged that I NO LONGER HAVE REFLEXES IN MY ENTIRE RIGHT ARM.

I know that this isn’t that big a deal; after all, I still have full motility and sensation in all parts of my body, including my right arm. And according to the doc, the damage to my nerves did not happen overnight — he estimates that it’s been at least a year since I first developed the herniated disc (I had just written off the pain as normal aches and pains from having a baby to take care of) — so I had been living with this minor damage this entire time and hadn’t even noticed!

But it was pretty scary to see your left arm twitch and jump just as it should be, only to have the doctor perform the same exact tests on my right arm and see it lie lifeless and still.

I received some physical therapy today, and will be returning to continue receiving therapy for however long it takes for the pain to go away. (Luckily, the burning OHMIGAWD MY NECK AND SHOULDERS ARE ON FIRE sensation only lasted through this morning.)

The doctor told me that if the pain does not lessen soon, he would like to send me for an MRI. He said that while most insurance companies will deny MRI coverage for herniated discs, they will approve them in cases like mine where there is nerve damage. (Hearing this scared the crap of me too.)

The worst part about this entire ordeal is that I still have Claire and Aerin at home.

After some arguing and even a couple of tears on my part, we have decided to send Claire to my parents’ for the rest of the week. And depending on how I am doing, we — meaning me, Claire, and Aerin — may stay at my parents’ for a little over month, until J’s parents return from Hong Kong late next month. J will stay at our home, visiting and sleeping overnight occasionally, but the commute from my parents’ home to NYC is almost an hour each way and it will be too difficult for him, especially since his work hours do not fall during rush hour when trains run often.

And although my mother would love to stay at our place to help out, she still has her store to manage and the frequent drives here — 45 minutes without traffic — are becoming too difficult. At my parents’ house, Claire will be watched by my sister and mother and father, each able to cover for the others when they have to work.

I will still need to watch Aerin by myself until the end of the week, but having one baby to watch is exponentially easier than two.

I had to fight back tears as I packed Claire’s things, and I started bawling as soon as she was out the door. I may enjoy occasional breaks from my children, but I have never spent a night away from Claire since she was born (aside from hospital stays), and I know that I will miss her horribly.

(The original plan was for me and the girls to all go to my parents’ today, but there was already so much stuff to pack and bring just with Claire…we simply did not have the time, space, or energy to do so today.)

I have recently started to get acupuncture and have been taking Asian herbal medicine for my failing health too. I hope that this, in addition to the chiropractic therapy, will help me get in better shape asap so that I will be able to take care of my girls the way they deserve.

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21 Responses to “Herniated Disc”

  1. Amanda says:

    Oh my goodness, how awful! I hope you start feeling better soon – I’m glad they caught it before it turned into anything really serious (can that happen? I know nothing about herniated discs!)

  2. MrsW says:

    I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you (I’ve only been away from my daughter for maybe 12-14 hours at a time so far) but I hope you’re taking comfort in the fact that once this tough season is over, THINGS WILL GET BETTER. Back, shoulder and neck pain can make your life miserable in so many little ways even though we soldier on and are “doing fine”. Just imagine life without that constant ache! I finally have chiropractor coverage for the first time in my life and I’m hoping to go soon, as I’ve been struggling with back pain and constant shoulder pain (it NEVER goes away, my husband can hardly ever rub my shoulders because I’ll cry) since I was a teenager, and even though it will be difficult, I’m so excited to see how different my life will be without pain. My daughter and I will lift you and your family up in our prayers tonight.

  3. Oh you poor girl. I’ve had a herniated disc in my lower back for about a year and a half and I totally understand the extreme pain, muscle spasms and crazy muscle knots it can cause. I strongly, strongly urge you to get massage therapy (performed by a registered massage therapist – this designation might be called something different in the US, I’m from Canada. But don’t just get a relaxing spa massage) on the affected part of your body. It’s much more effective than chiropractic. Massage therapy can be quite painful sometimes when they’re working on real problem spots but I usually feel immensely better afterward.

  4. Ayesha says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you are not feeling well! I know it must be hard to be away from Claire, and possibly J, later on, but you need some time to take care of you and to be taken care of. I really hope you feel better soon and that this difficult time will pass quickly.

  5. JJ says:

    I hope your symptoms improve with physical therapy and conservative treatment. But, if it does not improve or gets worse, please go see an MD…

  6. Mina says:

    oh jenny how stressful for you–i’m so sorry that you’re not feeling well. oh i can only imagine what it felt like to make this decision. the silver lining is that you’ve now identified the physical problem and can start working on it–the sooner it’s done the sooner things can get back to (quasi) normal. sending hugs and best thoughts to you!

  7. Wendy says:

    I haven’t spent a night without my daughter too. I def would be pretty sad too! Hope you feel better. Hang in there.

  8. Sorry to hear it, sweetie. You’ve had a rough 2 years! But glad to hear you have so many family members to fall back on when the going gets toughest. Hope you start feeling better soon.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I’m so sorry, Jenny! I hope your back heals quickly!

  10. carrie says:

    oh my gosh! a herniated disc is no joke and speaking from experience is excruciatingly painful! my insurance company never twitched once when I had an mri of mine, it’s really the only way to see how big of a problem it actually is – x-rays don’t pick up that soft tissue. if it has ruptured, or if it is affecting more than one vertebrae, you need to know that so you know how to treat it. most insurance companies, mine included, don’t cover chiropractic care (ridiculous if you ask me), but if yours does, than I would bet they would cover an mri — definitely go the traditional route and get that mri, just for peace of mind and to know exactly what’s going on. chiropractic care, physical therapy, mris, pain killers, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories – whatever combination works, getting back to normal is what you’re after. best of luck!

  11. Michelle says:

    Take care Jenny.

  12. Alice says:

    Bless your heart!! Wishing you a speedy recovery and great health – stat!!!

  13. Amy says:

    So sorry to hear about your neck pain! I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I’m sure you’re getting all sorts of advice and recommendations from people you know and I’m just a random stranger, but I highly highly highly recommend you to see an osteopathic medical doctor (or D.O.). I’m a DO student myself, and we go through all the rigorous training of medical students but with a focus on the musculoskeletal. Osteopaths are trained to use osteopathic manipulation (which is somewhat similar to the manipulation that chiropractors do, a combination of massage, stretching, and articulation) but we also have full medical training and other options that they do not. If you are having nerve impingement bad enough to lose your deep tendon reflexes, no offense to your chiropractor, but you really need to get evaluated by a medical doctor. I’ve personally seen a young man with bad herniated discs in his lumbar spine transform from hobbling into the office at the brink of major back surgery (which was not guaranteed to work well anyway), to going back to work as a taxi driver.
    Sorry if it’s kind of rude to intrude and give random medical advice, but I really feel for you and your situation. I believe very strongly in osteopathic medicine and I just wanted to share with you the other options out there, and hope that you feel better soon!

  14. Jean says:

    So sorry to hear about your health problems! Take care and get well soon!

    Sending you happy thoughts!

  15. Diana says:

    I hope you get better soon and I hope everything goes well with Claire.

  16. Angela says:

    Oh my gosh, I hope you get better soon… I can only imagine how hard it must be to be away from Claire for that long! I’ve been away from Noelle a max of 4 days and that was terribly hard. Healing prayers coming your way!

  17. Carol says:

    For the type of pain you’re describing, you might need a physical therapist. ST has really bad pain in his lower back and physical therapy helped relieve it and maintain the pain relief. He goes to a great place on Wall Street.

  18. Rachael says:

    Ugh, I am so sorry. I threw my back out when my youngest was about 6 months old and couldn’t walk upright or pick him up. It was awful, and that was just with one. I hope you start to feel better soon.

  19. Kate says:

    Oh no! Sending you quick recovery vibes!

  20. Rudy says:

    Hang in there do your thearphy and your workouts and i promise you in time things will get way better then they were. Just push yourself and tell yourself everyday that i will get better and i will win this war. Had to herniated disc in my back in september 2011 waking up in the morn. with bad pain in my back to my right leg out of work for 2 months did my thearphy in oct and nov of 2011 and since nov 2011 been doing my workouts for my back and i’m doing way better back to work and on my feet. good luck to you.

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