Alli's Place

Where Alli shares her thoughts and feelings…

Weekly Witterings #17

1. Yesterday I went to look at bathroom showrooms. I bought a new mattress. It was in the back of my mind as the bed at the holiday home I rented was so much comfier than mine, so I went to have a look. And ordered one. A memory foam one. One so expensive they gave me freebies. Let’s hope it is as good as I hope. It comes with a 40 day return option so it will be ok!

And we’ll my bedroom has an ensuit so it is almost the same room…

2. I also have someone coming to measure and design my bathroom and ensuite. Must tidy the bedroom before Wednesday. “Operation don’t want to be embarrassed when the guy measures up” is on!

3. I managed a full week in the office. No working from home. The first time since 1st March! 😄 

And I went on two lunchtime walks (with bench rests)! 😄

This was the view from the bench on Wednesday.  

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Weekly Witterings 2015 #10

1.  I did some crocheting again last week.  I have made these for Lisa’s hen party and will be using them to make some decorations.  Won’t say more than that for now.     

The flowers are from here and the butterflies from here.

Have also made some gifts for Easter so I will post about those once the recipients have them.

2. The back has been improving, although it is slow.  I have been I to the office a bit this week but it is really exhausting and by Friday I was really pretty tired and uncomfortable.  More working from home this week!

3.  I bought a new laptop this week.  My old one was getting unreliable, was randomly blue screenng and then I ended up doing a reset after the last blue screen as it wouldn’t come back on.  So now I have an ASUS Transformer with a 15.6″ touchscreen that can rotate to use like a tablet.  So far I am quite pleased with it but have been mainly copying files onto it!

4.  Getting a bit fed up of not being able to do much now.  I might try a swim later in the week, the physio said it would be I as long as I don’t go crazy and expect to do lots of lengths.  I can always enjoy the jacuzzi anyway.

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Weekly Witterings 2015 #9

1.  Oh dear these are not exactly weekly are they…

2. So this week I should have been having fun at a hackathon in Frankfurt with work but instead I have been supporting it from my sofa so doing the work but missing out on the fun.  Oh well.  I feel rather guilty about it as literally a couple of days after saying I would go I then sent an email saying my back had gone again and I wouldn’t be going.  They got someone else to go but he doesn’t know the code, the files or the product particularly so not really very useful!

3. Andy has, however, got a big tub of gummy bears for me from the office.  Apparently he went down to reception and said how I couldn’t come but love the gummy bears they have.  So this will be making its way to my desk soon 😃


The receptionist probably thinks I am crazy!

4.  As if I hadn’t done enough to my back I fell down the stairs last week so now have a rather bruised bum too!  Not too sure what happened, I was carrying my washing and attempting the stairs without a crutch but I think my leg also gave way.  Hank fully I don’t seem to have made anything worse.

5. Not really been up to much else really.  I saw my Physio on Thursday and thankfully he was gentle and sympathetic.  See him again next week so hopefully thre will be some improvement to show him.

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Whoop I left the house

It has been a while but this evening I left the house and went to home group.  Exhausted now but it was good to get out.

I am down to using one crutch now so I can carry things and I can put socks and shoes on at last too!

Currently I am working from home, I was bored by Friday.

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Stupid Back Strikes again!

Here we go again 😦

I am pretty sure I have slipped the disc again.  It feels just like it did the other two times.  So at the moment I am hobbling around the house on crutches and taking lots of painkillers.

So  how did I do it this time?  Well it partially went when I went to sit of a stool at Tom and Fiona’s house to play a game with Eilidh (my lovely God Daughter). I then spent a while on the sofa hoping it would settle down.  Then it was time for dinner so I got up to move to the dining table, Eilidh was already sitting at the table and as I approached she turned in her chair to hug me.  The chair tipped back and I instinctively caught it and that is when the big ouch struck.  Let’s just say Tom had to walk me to the car and drive my car home and help me into the house.

That was Sunday evening, 1st March.  Yesterday I got the GP to come out to do a prescription for some more Tramadol.  There was no way. Was up to getting myself to the surgery.  The GP had no pen and wrote the wrong date on the prescription so the friend wh went to get if for me had to sort that out but I have a good supply of painkillers now.

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MRI Scans

I guess this post should have a health warning. You are about to see my insides.

I now have the images from all of my MRI scans. So here are some of the interesting views (the January 2009, post surgery ones are not very interesting so I left those out). Welcome to my lumbar spine which has been described as interesting, fascinating, complicated, unusual.

January 2008.
This is Jelly Bean, my now removed schwannoma.

You are looking for the jelly bean shape that is in the top two images, grey on the left and black on the right (one was with some contrast dye). In the bottom two images there is a round area in the middle towards the top which is the vertebrae and disc area and then a circle underneath which should be dark but the jelly bean is in there in grey leaving only a small crescent shaped, darker area, that is where the nerves are. The bottom two discs are not looking in great condition here either.

October 2013.
This is the disc that, to me, looks like it did a poo.

Unfortunately these are a bit darker so it is less easy to see. Look for a dark area that looks a bit like melted candle wax in the top two images. In the bottom two it is bulging downwards from the circle that is the vertebrae/disc area, it is a back area in the white area, which is the nerves. If you compare the images here to the ones from 2008 you can see the scar tissue from my surgery and the missing lamina bone. The scar tissue is the area that is white to the right on the two top images and the bottom of the lower images. This is the bit the surgeon didn’t fancy “fighting his way through”. He also pointed out that you can see the scar tissue in the muscle but not on the nerves and he sounded a bit concerned about disturbing that.

I still don’t understand why or how this caused more pain than jelly bean did even though it doesn’t take up as much of the nerve space.

April 2014.
These ones show the poo has gone but the discs still bulge and don’t look as good as the others.

This ones is essentially the most normal of the three. Obviously the lamina is still missing and the scar tissue is still there but it allows you to compare the abnormalities of the other two. Thankfully this lot meant the second operation didn’t happen. 😊

So there you have it, my insides and the cause of my back pain, referred leg pain, numb patch on my leg, foot and big toe and strange sensations in my big toe. It could be worse, Jelly Bean would have caused much more damage had it not been removed and was left to grow!

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Acupuncture, what do I think now?

Well I said I would update my blog once I had researched a bit about acupuncture and had a few sessions and say whether my opinion had changed from sceptical…

In summary the jury is still out and I am still sceptical but probably a bit less scaeptical than I was.

What exactly has it involved?
Once my physio has done some intial progress checks and some manipulation to loosen things up he washes his hands and then get the needles out. He has always used four and these have been inserted in my lower back, in the area that I have problems, two either side of the spine in a kind of square. I then lie there while we have rather random conversations (we seem to be good at talking about really strange things which is often quite funny) then after a few minutes he “tweaks” the needles. I think he kind of twiddles them a bit. Then after a few more minutes he takes them out and as he usually wipes my back I assume there is a little bit of bleeding but nothing noticable by me. Generally it is fine and no big deal so I am not bothered by it. I must add though that I am not bother by needles and don’t mind injections or blood tests at all (ok so I am one of those freeks that likes to watch and I can’t watch this and if I am honest I would rather watch the needles go in).

What have I been feeling?
It generally doesn’t hurt and when it does it is one of those days when everything is feeling more tender anyway so it seems logical that it would hurt more then. The sensation of the needles going in varies from feeling virtually nothing to feeling like someone is pressing a bruise that then triggers twinges down my leg. The twinges usually happen when the needles on the other side of my spine have been inserted which to me seem strange My physiotherapist has explained that the nerves don’t just run down the go across the back as well so it isn’t as strange as I think it is aparently. I get the same sensations when he does his tweaking.

So what should it feel like?
This article describes different sensations that people have described but it vaguley says that along as it isn’t sharp that is ok which is not exactly helpful and it is this kind of vaguness that makes me sceptical.
A different article states “There is a unique sensation you should experience when you have acupuncture. It’s best described as a dull ache or a tingle followed by a dull sensation. It is essential to get this to know you’re having acupuncture rather than just a needle being stuck into some part of your body.” But I am not sure I am feeling that…

Wondering how to tell if acupuncture is working?
This article talks about improved sleep, being les stressed, having more energy, being more intune with emotios and having a more natural digestive system. Well some of these sound like the sort of fluffy fuzz I hate “oh yes I am more in tune with my emotiions” – where is the bucket! I do however admit that I am sleeping better, I am being woken by pain in the night less frequently that I was say 3 months ago but whether that is due to the acupuncture, the manipulation or my improved flexibility I wouldn’t like to say.

So do I think it is working?
I am not convinced. I guess I am still keeping an open mind. I have, like I said, noticed improvements; I generally sleep better and my walking speed has increased and my distace is slowing improving, my swimming is speeding up and I can swim further than I could a couple of weeks ago. But do I think this is down to the acupuncture, the manipulation or a combination of the two, well I am not sure and as I don’t have anything to compare it to in a scientific experimental way I am really un sure. At my last session we didn’t have time for acuputure so we just did manipulation and then talked about excersises and my physio did some other stuff so did I feel differnet after that instead of normal, I guess I did, as it I was a bit more uncomfortable the next day than I have been. So you could say that show the acupuncture does something or you could say that was because I was more stiff when I went in… oh who knows…

All I can say is generally I am improving and whatever is adding to that is good and my phsyio clearly believes in the acuputure and I trust him, but hey I am still somewhat sceptical 😉

By the way this is a good write up about about acupunture in general and as Kevin is my physio I recommend a read of that 😉

Some other interesting links…
There is plenty of information out there both for and against.
British Acupuncture Council has this to say about back pain and acupuncture.
The NHS offers acupuncture for some conditions, lower back pain being one of them. There must be sufficient evidence for NICE to recommend it. There is information from the NHS here.
The National Center For Complementary and Alternative Medicine has this to say. Basically they say research suggests it is useful for pain relief.
This article sets out to claim that acupunctures benefits are a myth. It suggests that “acupuncture is no better than a tooth pick for back pain”
The British Medical Journal has some articles, I can’t access them but the abstracts suggest that there should be more investigations.

Anyway there is lots of information around but my view is that it doesn’t seem to be particularly risky and I certainly haven’t had any bad effects from the sessions I have had so I remain open to giving it a go.

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Tired and frustrated

Feeling very tired and fed up toady.

I am not a patient person and waiting for letters, dates and decisions stresses me out. I like to have a plan and know what is going to happen when. Having a date felt like there was an end in sight and that feels like it has been ripped away.

I haven’t been sleeping well, being over tired added to the frustration of not knowing what will happen and also being in pain is wearing me down and today I feel like an emotional wreak!

I know people only ask because they care but today I just don’t know what to say to the “how are you?”, “how’s is the back?” and “do you have a date?” questions. A lovely older lady is in my home group asked after church and I just ended up choking back the tears. Another friend came over as he was going to ask too and thankfully he realised that might not be the best and just said “I will ask them instead” so I didn’t have to explain again. I made a swift exit after than.

Then my neighbour was cleaning his car so he asked as well. Thankfully despite me blinking tears away I managed to hold it together. I am so greater up for both my sets of neighbours as I don’t think they could be nicer people 🙂

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Mixed feelings after today

So this morning started with a phone call from the hospital, oh what a surprise I have been bumped so my surgery date is no longer 3/3. I kind of had assumed it would be canceled at some point, whenever I have surgery it is always canceled on the first attempt.

So I was told to still go to my pre opp appointments today and tomorrow so off I went to the one with the surgeon today.

Only running 1 1/2 hours late (apparently that isn’t bad for his clinics) so I was thoroughly bored by the time I went in. So let’s summaries this…

He likes Guide leaders and thinks they do marvellous things. He gets a Brownie point for that!

Apparently it is unusual for him to see a schwannoma patient who the goes on to have a disc problems. He has seen one previously but he was older and the disc was no where near where the tumour was. Mine is in almost exactly the same place.

He used the word unusual not interesting so he gets another Brownie point!

He doesn’t like the look of going through the scar tissue (which I was kind of surprised when he pointed it out, I had assumed that was just fatty muscle). Apparently that is not ideal.

As my last MRI was in October he wants an up to date one before surgery. He thinks t probably looks similar but if it has shrunk then there is no point operating so best to have a check first. I had thought this might happen, but I hate (I mean I think surgery sounds better) MRIs.

I am still having the pre-opp stuff tomorrow because he thinks that is the most likely outcome. Oh and I have signed the convent form for something that might not happen… Ummm…

Then it is back to waiting for letters and dates again 😦

To be fair I totally get what he means. It makes sense to have the best information available and it would not help if he made his way through the scar tissue to find the disc wasn’t as bad as it was in October and it was a waste of time and possibly made things worse for nothing. But I don’t know what they can do if the disc is better, because I am still in pain!

On the positive side the surgery sounds like a breeze! Should only need one or two weeks off work 🙂 He totally supports me escaping the same day as long as nothing indicates otherwise 🙂 No stitches to take out 🙂 Small scar 🙂 Should be able to drive in a day or so 😀 So happy about that!

So there we are now I don’t know what is happening when apart from another trip to the hospital tomorrow.

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Will I ever learn?

Why am I so stubborn?
Why do I care what other people think?
Why do I push myself right to past my limits?

These are some of the questions aim asking myself this evening…

I had an all day workshop for work today. I should have know better, I should have left earlier. But me, being me, stayed till the end having not managed a full day in the office since early October.

Why? Well I wanted to take part fully, I wanted to hear what everyone had to say, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by leaving early.

Now I am hurting, a lot. I am cross with myself. I am fed up.

Grrrrr I am so stupid!

And I know that no one would really have minded! Well apart from stubborn old me.

Now I could just cry… But that won’t help…

Will I ever learn? No probably not!
Was it worth it? Well it was a good meeting and I am glad I was there…

Oh well…

Roll on 3rd March and hopefully fixing this stupid back!

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