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Himeji Castle

An Epic Battle

I've had a rough last few months. My lower back is still causing me all kinds of grief and pain, which has turned me into quite a boring person. I haven't done anything particularly noteworthy as I rarely leave the house, and I don't really have the energy at the end of the day to blog on cool tech stuff like Ars Technica's look at the Chevy Volt or the benchmarks for Intel's new Core i7 CPUs on the Tech Report. If my back is yelling at me, the last thing I want to do is sit in a chair in front of a computer screen, even though I did shell out recently for an Aeron.

As well as the pain (which isn't very fun let me tell you), I've been battling a wide selection of other unpleasant emotions. Frustration is to be expected, as my life has been severely affected by the situation. I haven't exercised at all for the entire year, I can't drive and I can't do basic chores. I've dialled my life back down to nothing, becoming the guy who doesn't do much of anything, or see anyone. For a guy who thrives on activity, this isn't a good thing at all. I might as well start smoking pot and enroll in an arts degree.

Next on the list of unpleasantness was worry, which kicked in about three months into the super fun back experience. What if I never get better? How can I live my life? It didn't really help that the medical people who were happily taking fat chunks of my money didn't seem to have a clue what was wrong, or used the statement "Hmm, that's strange..." repeatedly. I don't want to hear that. I want to hear that I have something common and easy to fix, preferably with a single, cheap tablet, taken once.

One feeling I wasn't expecting was guilt, which was brought on every time I found a new way to hurt my back. Scuff my toe walking to work, ow. Take an unbalanced step getting into an elevator, ow. Reach out quickly to stop a dish falling off a shelf, ow. Bump my knee getting into the car, ow. Roll over clumsily in my doona, ow. Even now, when it's apparent that the even the most lame, ridiculous things end up hurting my back, I still feel a hot flush of guilt when I do it again. After all, I'd be fine if I'd just been more careful, right?

The slightly good news (and the reason I'm actually posting) is that my back specialist might've just found something. After xrays, MRIs, a bone scan, a cortisone injection, more xrays and more MRIs, I had a nerve test, which is like acupuncture except with an electric current. This wasn't conclusive, but it did lead to a very specific MRI down my right sciatic nerve, which was found to be swollen, or oedematous as we say in the back pain biz. This fits pretty well with my symptoms, and although it isn't a slam dunk by any means, it's a relief to actually have a target to aim at.

To address the sore nerve, I'm booked for sciatic decompression surgery in just under two weeks. The specialist will cut me open at the right hip, dig around, and make sure the nerve is nice and clear. I'll be off work for a few weeks, and hopefully things will take a turn for the better. If they don't... well, I'll try something else. Wish me luck.