Injuries Journal Part II

Spinal Cord Study

Artwork by Will o’ the Wisp.

There was good news yesterday.

At 6:30 pm, I started feeling pain in my neck, the first serious spike of the entire day. That was a long stretch without feeling discomfort. I had taken two aspirin that morning and four ibuprofen in two sets of two throughout the day. No Tiger Balm and limited use of the heating pad and ice packs. No carpal tunnel in my hands and only a bit of dis-coordination in my foot. That’s a great sign because normally I feel that discomfort around 2 pm.

I regretted skipping lunch though. Come noon I just wasn’t hungry, so I snacked on a few pretzel sticks that went down fine enough. For dinner there was a casserole of chicken, broccoli, cheese and brown rice. Great news there too in that I only needed to swallow tea every three or four bites to ward off the brain freeze. Another improvement.

This morning was rough however. And I don’t know whether it was adverse sleeping conditions or just the extreme cold outside, as it was briefly less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit. I felt pretty fatigued in my limbs, particularly my legs. There was an ache in my neck and shoulders but that went away with walking. I had a tough time swallowing the dry bread sample at Pete’s Coffee, and I felt a twinge of pain in my heart, probably from muscles being pulled there. But just a dash of the heating pad and I feel fine now.

A little later, I noticed some asymmetry in my right soleus (part of the calf), above the ankle but below the gastrocnemius. I realized the muscle was quite sore, and when I checked the less swollen opposite muscle, it too ached of soft muscle pain. I believe that my fatigue is actually being caused by stress from my neck throughout my entire body, which might explain why my physique has increasingly looked buff despite my lack of even looking at the gym. Some muscle relaxant on it has allowed my legs to recover from the exhaustion.

A friend of mine who usually prefers to remain nameless recommended something called epsom salts, a compound of magnesium and sulfur that has considerable muscle relaxing properties in the bath. It’s also very cheap, and available at our local Target and Walmart stores (for my foreign readers, Target and Walmart are the big budget department stores in this country.) I will try to obtain some soon for both current and later problems.

However, I truly suspect that the cold is masking the symptoms of my condition behind the effects of the chill. I think I’ll hold off on the doctor until next week (unless of course the problem goes away by then.)

In other news… I finished the first draft of my novel.

It was a stretch, I admit. That last chapter always taking just a bit a longer than I anticipate. I ended up not accomplishing everything I intended to that day, but finishing a novel is certainly nothing to complain about. I’m going to be taking a few days break from it while I work on a few other submissions, including a Black Library submission piece my friend wants me to take a look at and an edited manuscript from Emby Press that I need to review and approve. I also have a novel pitch I need to wrap up and submit very shortly.

Injuries Journal Part I

jonbland spine

Artwork by Jon Bland.

I’ve decided to keep a series of journal entries for the next few days, possibly weeks, to record how well my body is healing and to help decide if it’s time to go to the doctor or not. About a week ago, I injured myself carrying my backpack from work to home. The condition, I believe, is a pinched nerve. I’ve done my research and the symptoms match it far, far too well.

The vertebrae, being the key to the central nervous system, is incredibly complex, although that complexity reduces the further down the back you go. Among my symptoms include a bit of pain at the base of my head and spine, fatigue in my legs and sometimes my arms, minor carpal tunnel syndrome and cold flesh at my neck. The spot in question is definitely on my cervical vertebrae.

The worst problems are two fold: first, the nerve endings in my throat are convinced that almost anything I swallow is cold, resulting in persistent brain freeze. Second, muscles connecting my esophagus to my spine keep clenching whenever I eat. This caused acid reflux and heart burn. Eating can be quite an ordeal.

The good news is that there seems to be definite signs of improvement. The first few days, I had trouble getting to sleep because of the pain. Now, I can get 8 or 9 hours uninterrupted. I’ve been taking ibuprofen for anti-inflammation, aspirin for blood thinning, using a heating pad to reduce the cold and muscle pain, and have also alternated with an ice pack to reduce any swelling. Tums for the acid reflux.

Oh, and for the pain… I am now a proud initiate of the Tiger Balm cult.

I’ve been encouraged to go to the doctor’s office but two things hold me back. First, it’s a cost I don’t need right now to find out two, that as a pinched nerve, they recommend a conservative treatment (what I’m doing now.) At best, I could probably receive some muscle relaxants and something for the agony (which is reducing on its own) but I’d rather not bother. At the most worrying end of the spectrum, it is possible I could require surgery to repair the damage… but I don’t think my current physicians is particularly scalpel-happy.

Today, I made myself a breakfast of bacon, coffee and some egg creation of mozzarella cheese and sauerkraut with spices. Went down alright with minimal brain freeze and almost no clenching, both very good signs. But, it’s very common for the problems to grow worse throughout the day. The two biggest problem foods are anything solid and hard, and cold. Particularly beverages. That hot coffee makes everything easier.

One interesting thing that happened yesterday night while a few coworkers and I were playing Cards Against Humanity. I had quite a few shots of Fireball, a cinnamon whiskey served room temperature. (Amusing note: I remember my coworkers disdain at Fireball until last CAH night, when they kept wanting more shots after trying it.) It was only after I got home that I remembered that Sarah made a bowl of popcorn, and I ate it without feeling any discomfort whatsoever. This might be a solution at the next dinner with friends, where I could carry a flask of Fireball and chug it as not to feel the pain when I eat. Until then, I’m going to conserve what I have for later.

Today I’m taking a day off of work to stay on my back (sans sex) as much as possible. I’ve hooked up my PC to run off the big screen television with zoomed in text for easy reading. (Tip: hold CTRL and use the mouse zoom button. I recommend it while web browsing to ease strain on the eyes, dear readers.) I made a deal with myself that if there is no improvement by tomorrow, I would schedule a doctor’s appointment.

We’ll see what happens… going to get back to wrapping up this novel I’m writing. And will post another update tonight after dinner. Later chummers.