My First MRI

At my February chiropractor visit, I complained to Dr. Smith about a numbness in my left leg, especially when sitting on the floor or laying on my left side to sleep. She told me that I should call her for another appointment in a week if it didn’t get better after my adjustment.

It didn’t really, but I opted to see if I could just deal with it. I mean, it wasn’t painful, exactly, just uncomfortable. Stiff. Numb. Weird. I learned how to adjust my hips a certain way when I laid in bed, and I stopped sitting on the floor to play with Connor. Problem solved, right?

When I went in for my March visit last Friday, she asked (as she always does) how my lower back was feeling. I had to tell her that the leg was still going numb at times. So, she flipped through my chart to see what I’d been complaining of in the past months, and saw that the leg thing was a relatively new occurrence. Kind of a red flag. She’d been thinking about having me get an MRI from the beginning, she admitted, but now she was sure. She assured me that I’m doing all the right things: doing yoga to stretch and strengthen, getting my weight down, and (although she didn’t say this out loud) no longer running.

She called in a prescription, I guess you’d say, for an MRI at a local medical imaging firm, and told me to come in a couple days after my MRI to discuss the results.

Today was the MRI.

I’d seen pictures of MRI machines, where the patient is encased in this long, claustrophobia-inducing tunnel, and I wasn’t really looking forward to the experience. Luckily for me, the place I was sent was an Open MRI; I wouldn’t have to feel like some sort of futuristic astronaut about to be snuffed out by a rabid AI or something. My claustrophobic mother still would have had issues with it, I’ll bet, since I spent 35 minutes staring at a grey wall two inches from my nose, with my arms by my sides and a plastic guard over my lower torso. I also spent the final five minutes suppressing a coughing fit.

When the scan was over, the technician gave me a disc with all the images on it, and told me to bring the disc to Dr. Smith when I go to see her and discuss the results. Images! Yay! I get to see what my back looks like!

I think I can see my offset L5… but I’m not sure. I looked at all the images, including the slightly awkward ones where I’m pretty sure I’m looking at a cross-section of my butt, and decided that there’s a reason why people go to decades of school to be able to properly interpret this sort of thing.

My next appointment with Dr. Smith is on Wednesday afternoon. She’ll tell me what the analysis of the images found, and let me know what to do next. She had mentioned last week that she might need to call in an orthopedist or a physical therapist. I’m fine with that. I’m glad that she’s more interested in treating me conservatively than going in with guns blazing and steroid injections at the ready — or, Spaghetti Monster forbid, back surgery.

On one hand, I continue to feel sorry for myself that I can (or should) no longer run. I still read all the fitness and running blogs I found back in my running days, even though every one makes me cringe. I think about the fact that I should really walk the 2013 Jingle Bell 5K — the one that marks my so-called runniversary, when I decided I could do this after all.

On the other hand, I look at myself and realize that there’s so much I could and should be doing RIGHT NOW that has nothing to do with high-impact exercise like running. I shouldn’t be working through lunch when I’m paying for the Fitness Center at my work, no matter what kind of deadlines I have on deck. I could be walking, or biking, or lifting (carefully and under supervision).

We live literally a third of a mile from a bike path; once it gets warmer, there is no excuse for me not to go reacquaint myself with biking. Or at the very least, pack Connor up in the stroller on a balmy Sunday morning and go on a walk. Why not? Why stay cooped up indoors, with him fussing and whining about not wanting to stay in the living room?

I guess my point is that I really shouldn’t be feeling put-upon by my not-really-painful back condition. My quality of life isn’t affected (outside of some shitty sleep). I’m not in serious pain — not even enough to justify taking Tylenol or Motrin on anything close to a regular basis. And I’d be feeling a lot better if I continue to work on my core and my cardio, rather than sitting on my ass and wishing I could go on a run.

I can complain, or I can STFU and get back on the fitness wagon.

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