Tag Archives: Bad back

Spinal flux, Irish BBQ, and the Fourth from a distance


Happy Fourth! I’m sitting outside, gagging on the smell of citronella-torch smoke, wiping rain off my iPad screen, but certainly enjoying the occasional wafts of heavenly scent coming from our Weber grill.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should have imported my husband to America, instead of exporting myself to Ireland. He goes craaazeee for American holidays. We don’t have a big US flag, just a tiny one onna stick, but we do have two flag bandannas. One of which is hanging in our front window:

With, of course, Neko the American Akita standing guard under it.

The Fourth wouldn’t be complete without a barbecue. We are back on the low-carb diet (not because of the scale, but because our clothes weren’t fitting any more – been off the diet since April, whoops) so tonight is a meat-feast. Craft butcher sausages from our local butcher, ribs from him also, and best of all, beer-butt chicken. Here’s the scene before cooking:

Chicken is rubbed inside and out with butter, olive oil, lemon, and my mixture of spices from our garden: sage, thyme, garlic, basil and oregano. And, of course, there’s a can of beer shoved up it’s arse. Or what used to be its arse… Oh and the tuna-can has wood chips in, for smoking. Nom!

We’ve never made the chicken before. Never had a grill big enough until he came home one day with his much-lusted-after Weber. I can’t wait to try it! It takes a while, and hubby made a huge mess during prep. Better be worth it…

So… We both took the day off today, because today happened to be the day I got to talk to someone about the results of my MRI. Finally. Been ages since this journey into WTF is wrong with my back started.

And as it turns out, not very much. I do have one disc that is dried up and cracked and so is squishing out through the crack and bulging a bit. To the right. My nerve issues are nearly all on my left side. Doc couldn’t see any reason that the bulge on the right would be pressing on a nerve on the left. So, surgery was 100% ruled out. Nothing to operate on. He did offer what I had been told were ‘shots’ but actually is an epidural. I agreed, even though I have no idea what they might be pumping into my spinal fluid, and it probably won’t help. If it does, then they know a nerve is indeed being squarshed and that’s a valuable bit of knowledge, to me. Because if the nerve isn’t being pinched at the spine, just what the hell is the issue? Cuz my leg burrrns. Or aches like it is bruised, or itches in a way that can’t be scratched.

But I can live with the leg being wonky. I can’t live with this backache. I can’t do anything! I’m only 40, not too chubby, and like doing things with my hands. When I can’t even do the things I have to do, like the damn dishes, without needing to go sit down for a while, what chance do I have for doing fun things like vacuuming the car? And YES, dammit, that is fun, sort of – I love me a clean car, and I’m in the bitch more than anyone else these days.

Oooooh the sun just came out! I can taste it! Seriously, I can open my mouth and feel the sun on my tongue and oh, I need the sunshine. My current music (hubby testing songs for tomorrow’s radio show, with a USA theme, surprised?) is The Pogues, The Body of an American – “I’m a free-born man of the USA” first heard by me on The Wire. Apparently it’s a wake song; if so – play it for me when I go, please?

Back to the back. Needle in 4-6 weeks, and probably another day off of work. Be interesting to see what result, if any, I get. In the meantime they said my issue appears to be muscular. My lower spine has very little curve to it. Doc said this is because the muscles are supposed to pull tight and make the curve, but mine are weak and haven’t been doing the job. I asked about any options to strengthen the muscles that might be provided by the HSE – none. So Pilates on my iPad it is then, I guess. I can’t afford classes with someone to show me how to do it right – even though I have never done regulated exercises and I doubt I do them right. Only time I ever tried anything close was the Haidong Kumdo and that is what really, really fucked my back up! Even with an instructor. Imagine what I can do to myself, by myself!

Right, just had a looong pause while taking the chicken off the grill. I love crispy skin – the only fatty thing I eat and like – only if crispy! Had to run in and peel the chook, because if you leave the skin on the bird it goes soggy. I have to say the crispness is a bit lacking, so I scraped off the oooky fatty bits and we’ll put the skin back on the grill for a bit, because the ribs and sausages aren’t quite done yet. Last photo before I went inside:


Had a little taste of the chicken. WOW. Oh yeah, baby.

Nothing in there for dogs, sorry Neko!

Crappy back, continued


I can’t believe how early it is. I left the house at 12:45 and got back home at 3, but it feels like I was gone much longer! I got loads done.

First I picked up my weekly newspapers for the weekly job hunt/local news/laugh at the poor quality of the articles. Then I got petrol, then headed off to Castlebar for my hospital appointment regarding my back.

I actually didn’t have a long wait, surprisingly. They said I do probably have a disk issue, and sciatica, but they won’t know without an MRI. These are all things my chiropractor told me, no surprises. They also said they would set me up with ‘physio’ in the meantime, as the MRI appointment is going to take a while. So, I’m guessing the physio is physical therapy, and similar to what my chiropractor does for me. But I won’t have to pay for it. Whew. So, it’s nice to be on their radar finally, even if I haven’t learned anything new and still have no diagnosis or even a time frame. Welcome to the HSE.

Oh, here’s my x-rays. I took pics of them for my own perusal. I love being able to see inside myself. Never ending source of entertainment for me.

It’s pretty obvious that the gap #1 is a lot narrower than the rest, like #2. Most likely that’s my bad disc. Yay.

Nothing to see here, I just think it looks cool to see my innards. I have a tail, how cool is that?

Oh, after that I went and picked up dog food, had a chat with the pet shop ladies about my Brushes art and took pictures of the birds, fish and bunnies in order to have more animals to draw for my ‘portfolio.’

On the way home, I had a bit of a surprise. Tanks. Tanks and troop carriers on the side of the road! With soldiers, and guns. Cooooool. We’ve no idea what’s going on, but seeing the Irish Army camped out on the side of the road is a new one for me. I took pics on my phone, but I was really far away and the pics aren’t worth posting. And I don’t want to get in trouble. Those were big guns.

Cucurbita maximas in flight!


My hands are all smelly and prune-y from cooking two massive pumpkins this afternoon. I have a lot of pumpkin now. I also have very little freezer space. Dammit. Because they weren’t pie pumpkins, they are really watery. I’m letting the massive clump of mush drain, but I have no idea where to put it all. If I have time tomorrow, I’ll blitz it in the food processor in the hopes of reducing the sheer volume of gourd guts.

I might not have time because, drum roll please, I have a job interview tomorrow! Woot! It sounds like a good one, too – in other words, not retail. Although I’m not turning down retail at this point, uh-uh. However, I’ll take the higher pay that (hopefully) comes with an office job.

I used to have a doctor appointment tomorrow, finally, for my back. When the potential employer rang I said ‘yes I am free’ without even thinking about the damn orthopaedist. So I had to ring the hospital today and reschedule (they were closed yesterday for the holiday). I’ve been waiting for this appointment since June 2010, yes. But I’ve been unemployed since February 2010, so the bad back has to wait until the 16th now. They were very nice on the phone at least – I was totally honest and maybe that’s why it is only another 2 weeks instead of months. I know damn well not to call up and reschedule a job interview because I made a stupid mistake.

Oh dear. iDJ strikes again. He made a fire for me, and it isn’t staying lit.
Me: “Your fire went out again. The damn thing is useless.”
iDJ: “It loves you!”
Me: “Go away. Go away now.”

Earlier, I had to point out to him that he was talking to the fancy cheese he was nibbling on. I wonder about that man.

I bet I did something today that none of the rest of you did! I am totally willing to put money on it. Because I have none. I’d bet something really valuable, but on the tiny chance I lost, I doubt my cats would like you as much as they like me. I can stake a husband that talks to cheese? No takers? Okay then, you’d lose anyhow.

I watched someone try to start a helicopter while I was stark-ass naked.

Told you I’d win that one! I will, however, offer a consolation prize to the best guess of how I managed to view a failed aviation attempt whilst in the buff.

Baby oil and dog food


Hi! No earworm today again, as I woke up with a start at 9:07 and found iDJ still next to me. He has to be at work at 9. Whoops. He’s well able to be up and out in under 10 minutes. I am not, I need an hour to wake up all the way.

I think we had a late night last night, and perhaps a bit too much to drink…

I had to do the 10 minute version, though, as I needed the car for my 11:30 chiropractic visit. I snuggled into the couch with kitties until I had to get dressed. I had to wear shorts per the doc’s request, so he could ‘really work’ on my nerve-damaged thigh. I also wore my flip flops with the big ugly purple flowers and a tank top. What the hell, if you’ve gotta wear shorts in 50deg F weather, in the rain, you might as well dress summery the rest of the way.

After a couple painful lower back scrunches and crunches, I had to lie face down and be half-tortured for a while. He really pushed on the nerve. Good thing I’m not ticklish, too, because when it didn’t hurt it was enough to make me want to jump. Then he did a bit of massage with what turned out to be baby oil. I am still a bit weirded out by that, to be honest- but I have never had any kind of physical therapy or even a professional massage, so perhaps that is normal. I think I just have to let go of my ‘a stranger is touching me!’ nervousness. Doc kept me talking, asking about Cleveland and Florida and New Orleans. So either he knew I was nervous or was trying to distract me from pain. It worked: I think by now it is obvious I can talk for Ireland.

Then I had to buy dog food. And I didn’t know how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be, not really. I’ve been a passenger on those roads, but not driven them. I don’t pay attention to where I am unless I’m behind the wheel. But I got there just fine, I was worried for nothing. What’s two normal roundabouts and two mini ones, and a few no entry streets to me? Piffle.

Back home, I’ve not done a damn thing the rest of the day. Back and leg feel super funky, and I’ve got such tension between my shoulders that I don’t want to move.

Well, crap, this is a boring post! Next I get to talk about Socks, though 🙂

I’m not spineless, even if I wish I was



I’m here pretty late, for me. It’s about 8:45 as I start. I’m sleepy, and sore, and stiff, and my nose is half stuffy (not normal for me).

Had an early start today, as I had an appointment with the chiropractor. I’m paying for this out of pocket, as I don’t have insurance and the NHS probably wouldn’t pay for it. If I could get them to have a look, that is.

So, a bit of history is in order methinks!

June or thereabouts, 2010. I went to my GP for something or other and also asked about the super annoying sensations on the outside of my left thigh. It burns, itches, tingles, goes numb, and just in general fells really freaking weird when touched. So, doc says he’ll request an x-ray for me at the hospital.

Now, keep in mind I’ve only lived in Ireland five years at this point, but I’ve already learned that the NHS is slow as fuck, and that my request is in no way urgent and therefore at the bottom of the probably massive stack of letters. No worries.

I sort of forgot about it. I’d remember, but didn’t get sick again so had no need to visit the doc. Also, getting thru to them on the phone is hellish. His office is literally right around the corner from my house, but I hate to be a dick and walk in just to ask a question because the phone is always busy. Busy is busy, and I’m not more important than the people who have been waiting, right?

So, a year goes by without an x-ray appointment. I’m steadily getting worse. Not really in pain as such, but I can’t stand still for long without getting sore. I growl at iDJ when he accidentally touches my leg. I finally ring the doc in May. They get me an x-ray appointment at the hospital in just a couple weeks.

Of course, the x-rays show nothing. It’s probably a pinched nerve, that’s not gonna show. So, doc says he’ll send a letter and ask for an urgent MRI, and it should be about two weeks.

A month goes by. I ring the doc, no, they have nothing. They send another letter, again urgent, again, should be getting an appointment in about two weeks. Gina (I’m now on a first name basis, I’m the only Yank and my name is a pain in the ass, so she knows it’s me the minute I say hello) tells me that she’s going to say it’s the third request, because the hospital lost my x-ray request letter in the first place. I know Gina is busy, and, I suspect, she’s so overworked that things don’t get done in a timely fashion. So I ask if I can ring the hospital and annoy them about the appointment myself.

Why yes, yes I can. I leave it three weeks and ring the radiology department. They are only available for phone calls between 10 and 12:30 every day, WTF???

They have no record of me needing an appointment for an MRI.

I call Gina back. She says she’ll ring them. Nope, no letter. She sends another one. Have to wait another two weeks.

By now, I’m keeping dates and not letting shit get one day older than it should before I start chasing my appointment. Gina tells me two weeks later that I’ll be seeing a Miss H in orthopaedics. So I start ringing orthopaedics. They say they have the letter (cue happy bluebirds circling over my head in joyous celebration)! They also say that Miss H has such a backlog of letters waiting for appointments, she needs time to read them and prioritise each one. They also say that I am NOT in any queue for an MRI, I am waiting only for a consultation, and the wait for that will be two months! Cue my bluebirds dropping, stone dead, to the ground in little puffs of feathers.

By now, I think, it is late August. I’m shitty at tracking time, sorry. Back to the doc, in person, and righteously pissed off. Because in my real life, I have gotten WAY worse. I’m in actual lower back pain now, and it is constant. I can’t vacuum the house without having to spend the rest of the day on the couch with a hot pad on my back. I’m super fucking grumpy and hate my stupid loser life where I can no longer even apply for shit retail jobs because I know I can’t stand up for 10 minutes in a row or lift anything. I’ve also broken my left pinkie toe because that side has gone weak and I’m even clumsier than usual. Oh, and the middle toe on my left foot has now gone numb! Oh, and I’d found a really fun martial art that I was good at and it made me happy because I am a clumsy git and I’d turned 40 but even though I’m feeling old, I was learning how to kill, using a sword, in elegant ways. With friends, which is so bloody rare that alone was enough to make me happy.

But, no more swordplay, no little bit of sunshine, and now I’m really pissed off at the system.

Doc is great, is upset on my behalf, and says he’ll send a letter to a different hospital in the next county, to see if they will take me seriously. Two weeks, again.

I ring the doc after exactly two weeks. Gina says she’ll ring the ‘new’ hospital. This is Tuesday. I give her Wed to ring them. Thurs the doc’s office is always closed. I call again on Friday. I get a voice mail saying the office is closed. Sheeeeit.

I call on Monday. Gina is off for the next week, and the fill in hasn’t a clue. I do get the name of the ‘new’ hospital, so I try to ring them. No answer at either number in the phone book. I find a place that only does MRI’s and call them, apologising for not have a clue what the hell I’m talking about. They don’t have any record of a letter about me. But, I might have the wrong place, or my bizarre name might be the issue. So, I wait out the week and ring Gina on Monday. Hey, we’re up to this week! Woot! Still with me? Bored yet? I am, a bit. Think I’ll take a pee break.

Ah, that’s better. Needed more booze anyhow.

Oh yes, over the week that Gina was out, I got a letter from the first hospital giving me my consult appointment on November 2. Bastards! I get from Gina the actual number of the new place and I ring them. Same story: one doc, pile of paperwork, hasn’t read any of it. Fuck YOU, sir. Ring Gina again, ask if I can have my x-rays because I’ve given up and am now going to a chiropractor.

You read the earlier fun post about picking up the films? Good.

So, chiropractor’s office. Lots of questions, the history of all the pains, etc. His diagnosis is that my sacrum is sitting crooked between my hips, due to my squealing when he squeezed my hipbones toward each other, and then another look at the x-ray where even I can see that shit is crooked. So, problem number one.

Problem number two is unconfirmed. Ya know why? Because you’d need a fucking MRI to see if I have a herniated disc or not! Isn’t that funny? But he says it’s pretty likely, as the very last vertebrae has a smaller gap than all the others. If so, it explains the screwy leg nerves as it they are either being pinched out the side of the disc, or as it runs down past my pelvic bone and sacrum.

So, an adjustment, an exercise, ice and heat, and do not bend over, twist and bend, or sit crooked. No lifting, and try to sleep on my back with pillows under my knees. Wish me luck with that last one. Back on Tuesday, 2 appointments a week for a bit, then one, then one a month, then one every few months.

I’m stiff in my upper back, but that’s all muscle because I am and have been holding myself very stiff to avoid movement and pain. My lower back feels better already!

Wish our bank account did.

I’m pooped


Ugh, I’m not feeling spiffy this morning. Guts are unhappy about whatever it is that makes them unhappy all the damn time. Feel a bit like barfing, too. Back is giving me trouble, of course.

Think we did too much yesterday. Really annoying that doing normal things one day screws me up for the next two days.

I actually left the house yesterday! In the car! I went into buildings! I did some shopping! You can see how exhausting that is, just from all of the exclamation marks! !!! !! !

I needed to pick up my back x-rays from the hospital, so I can take them to the chiropractor tomorrow. Being as all that the National Health Service (NHS) has done for my back in the last 1.5 years is take one set of x-rays, I figure I should use them as best I can. So, because everything is done different here than I would ever expect, I had to get a letter from my GP and take it to the hospital’s x-ray department, and ask for my films. Which I do, and got them after a short wait. I also got questioned as to what I needed them for. “Oh, um, I have a consultation…no, I forget who it’s with… I’ll bring them back next month…” all the while blushing furiously because I am a totally shitty liar and even lying by omission shows all over my face. I didn’t want to say that I was going to a chiropractor outside the NHS for fear they wouldn’t let me have my x-rays of my back even with a letter from my GP. Because I’m so thrilled to be paying for treatment myself instead of being cared for by the NHS. Grrr.

Oh, I am totally going to take pics of the pics of my innards. I love that stuff! Don’t worry, I’ll share. 🙂

The hospital is under a ‘no visitors’ rule at the moment due to a vomiting bug going around. I should have taken a pic of the giant “No visitors” board that was propped outside the main entrance. Sort of fucking scary that the hospital already had a board to put out front. I very carefully touched nothing but the file they gave me. But… didn’t I start this post saying that I feel a bit pukey? Joy.

Okay, so then we stopped in at Horkan’s to get Dogzilla something for her birthday. We wandered around there a while. They have small pets, pet supplies, plants, and Weber grills. So me and iDJ were both happy. We also picked up a couple little Xmas presents to send to the US. Always good to find things that are small and lightweight. Dear god, did I just admit to buying Xmas gifts before Halloween?

Back home and got some schtuff for dinner. And we stopped into a pub, because it was 4:30, and he said that since he had been forced to take the week off as holiday time (instead of the dole; this way he actually gets paid), he wanted to have an early pint as if he was on holidays. So we did.

Aaaand that was enough to wear me out. Aaaand I need to RUN to the potty now!