I hadn’t planned to blog about anything else this week after One Lone Black Nerd I Be, but my experience over these past couple of days needs to be shared. My close friends are aware of my struggles with chronic pain from gout and more prominently, from my lower back, sciatica, and numbness with tingling in my feet. I have suffered for years, partly due to insurance deficiencies and mostly due to my own stubbornness.
I hadn’t seen a doctor not just because I hadn’t had the insurance, but because, frankly, I was afraid to go. I feared the doctor would find something major wrong with me and add it to the already long list of ailments: heart disease, gout, abnormal kidney function, inability to do math, weakness for tall brunettes, and high risk for diabetes. That was the big fear. My father was diabetic. He had it really bad. Even with all his efforts, he lost the battle at 61. I am so scared that my ending will be the same so I try to take things more seriously when it comes to my doctor’s orders and recommendations. I’ve been diagnosed as diabetic before. I started working out and lost weight and got things back under control, but then my heart decided to crush me down to the brink followed by my back. I sat on my ass for almost 2 years now; my back not even allowing me to walk any length without extreme pain and my feet turning into numb bricks. I needed my back so I could get to work on making my heart better through exercise, so I finally decided to address the problem.
I made an appointment to see a highly respected and regarded local spine specialist a month ago and yesterday was the appointment. I do my research. When you go to the doctor as much as I do, you want someone capable, with a good bedside manner. They often have to give you news you don’t want to hear. It’s easier to take with niceness than with a cold detachment. The specialist did her exam and basically told me what I feared it always was…neuropathy. I immediately had thoughts of losing my feet like I’ve seen happen to so many others. I got x-rays, scheduled a CT, and an EMG (Electromyogram) to test for nerve damage. She also prescribed me two weeks of a drug called neurontin. I was like, “Great, another medication”, but this one has done a magic trick.
The medication has alleviated my back pain, numbness, and burning nerve pain in my legs, lumbar, and even my cervical spine by at least 85%. I still have the occasional twinge or sciatic ache, but let me tell you the near immediate change after I took this medication was mind-blowing. I felt like I was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz where she opens the door from Kansas into Oz and everything goes from dirty, Dust Bowl black and white to majestic Technicolor. The Dark Side of the Moon was playing in my head, yes, because I know you were wondering. I must have stared at the ceiling for at least 5 minutes, looking at the tiles as if I had never really seen them before. My nerves no longer fired off in excruciating volleys of searing pain. I didn’t have to sit down once today to make the feeling come back to my feet. When I stood up, it was as if my legs were awake again and not merely rickety beams holding up an old rusted bridge. They wanted to move. My back wanted to move. It felt free, like it was unbound from the chains of torture. I honestly felt kind of stoned. That makes sense, as neurontin is a nerve pain drug. I felt….really damn good. I felt like I was the God-Damned Batman!
I was at work, at my desk, having a giggle fit. People thought I was crazy. The waves of pain relief that crashed through me put me in a state of near euphoric happiness. Nothing got to me today. Everything was ok. I was untouchable. I wasn’t on edge like I usually always am. I was so relieved to the point of tears. I did not realize I got used to the misery and torture I put my body through unnecessarily. I could have solved this years ago. I’m stubborn, just like my father. Hell, just like most men, especially african-american ones. “Just put some Vicks or Tussin on it!” My mother basically kept us alive with Vicks, Tussin, and Nyquil. Broken bone? Tussin. Ebola? Vicks. Coughing up blood? Nyquil. That’s how we rolled.
I walked around today, feeling like I had conquered a planet. I felt a king. I felt more hilarious (as if that’s possible!). I felt more intelligent. I felt more handsome (again, inconceivable!). My back DIDN’T hurt. My feet DIDN’T go numb. I’m anxious to get the results of these tests to see if there is anything more to be done, but I think I’m on the right track. I feel stupid for waiting and for being afraid. I won’t hold my GVTV crew back any longer. I won’t be the weak link. They won’t have to stop for me. They won’t have to leave me behind. I will be able to dance the good slow dances I owe to some special girls. I’ll be able to get my workouts on. I’m going to triumph over this obstacle just like all the others.