Wednesday 15 November 2023

A pain in the back

Of bones and pains

It is interesting to understand the vagaries of accumulating years whilst straining to retain a semblance of youth and fitness about yourself.

After many years of back pain that at times had my slender partner stand on my back to ease the pain and little medical remedy for the occasion stabs of pain in the ribs, one had found some accommodations to live with it.

In other places, it was shin splints, I could walk very fast, but that seemed to present somewhat unbearable pain that obviously prevented me from running as no matter how cushioned my feet were, the pounding with running or jogging presented a threshold of pain I was not ready to endure in any masochistic way. I stuck to walking.

Canes and pains

Then for a few years, I had an umbrella for support, literally as a walking cane, sometimes unsightly but necessary as I found that walking for a while, standing for too long, or sauntering in a queue left me socially inadequate for certain settings.

However, twenty years ago, in December I decided to get a proper and decent walking cane, it had an ivory screwball at the top, but I soon settled for a Derby cane as that had a hook, I could put over my arm. It suited me well as much as I never conceded any sense of disability despite needing a walking aid.

Just about 6 years later, I had skin cancer in my left foot, the appearances in my right foot were not as serious, but the unbearable pain of cancer that I have written about many times before meant I could not walk on my two feet for almost 6 months, I had to use crutches, though, living in Amsterdam, I could cycle anywhere and the result of that was I got a bit of respite for the back pain.

Soon, I realised with a good pair of trainers or sneakers, I could probably get around a bit without my cane, but that did not ease the occasional back pain if I was standing or sauntering, the support of a walking cane even one I can disassemble into parts to carry around in my bag remained necessary.

Walking through airport security in Manchester, I get presented with a standard cane as mine is checked through security scanners. Their canes are, however, not of the standard one would be inclined to steal away.

Scan the spine

Then in late August, I had a conversation with my consultant, and we decided to get to the bottom of why I have needed a walking cane, all this while. It was never a fashion accessory, I just thought, if you were to use a cane, get a distinctively nice one that gave the support needed and looked fashionable enough.

An MRI scan without contrast was booked for early October for a full scan of my spinal column and now at least there is a medical understanding of why I have had back pain for about 30 years whilst not thrilling news, there is a kind of justification for the use of a walking cane, as for the terms involved in explaining the conditions, they are new to me and I am still reading up on the causes and possible treatments.

I guess one good point determined from the diagnosis is that I have lost no height due to kyphoscoliosis or the two osteophytes in the vertebral column. This is up for discussion with my consultant as to what ameliorating or mitigating factors should be considered. I am generally fine and relieved that some knowledge is gained.

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