Well, I’m pleased to let my readers know that I’m back in the saddle again. Ok, maybe not fully in the saddle. Maybe I’m riding side saddle and very slowly right now, and gingerly. According to some in the family, I shouldn’t even be on the horse…but I am. Or, in my case, perched on a rock.
My husband was gracious enough to make me a temporary office on the main floor of the house – probably because he got sick of me whining about getting texting hand injuries from trying to function entirely on my iphone as I lay flat on my back on ice packs. Let’s just say it has been a very long 5 weeks and my family has been just wonderful – beyond all expectations.
And this walk outside – it was glorious. Being cooped up inside (5 weeks today, not that I’m counting) is so difficult when I know those weeds are growing and needing to be pulled up by the roots! The beautiful phlox is in bloom, the cherry trees are just finishing, in the background…nothing as beautiful as springtime! And the sunshine – it just felt SOOOoooo good.
In all seriousness, back injuries are no joke and excruciatingly painful, especially if you cannot take narcotic drugs.
However, ice, heat, rest and time help a great deal (In addition to my wonderful family) and my neurosurgeon has told me that I just need more of the same. I’m improving every day and have informed my husband that the surgeon said that I cannot do yard work nor housework, and I have a witness. In fact, I’m likely to never be able to do those things again, ever. Miss Mary, my quilt sister, accompanied me to the appointment and she swears that’s exactly what the doctor said! She’s got my back, pardon the pun.
Right Miss Mary???
The funniest thing about the doctor visit was when the doctor said, “Well, you can’t change your genetics” and Miss Mary piped right up and said, “Well, if anyone can, she can.” He looked very quizzical of course and we all had a good laugh after discussing how different medicine, including genetics will be in another generation or even another decade.
This of course made me think about the past and wonder what happened when my poor ancestors encountered this type of situation.
The history of spinal cord injury reaches far back into history, with some insight and a lot of myth and mystery – not to mention misery and experimentation.
Spinal surgery had begun in England in the early 1800s, and yes, without anesthetic. It’s no wonder so many patients died. They wanted to.
The first successful laminectomy which removed a disc which was compressing a nerve which resulted in paralysis from a fall from a horse was performed in Kentucky in 1829 by a doctor who had studied in Philadelphia.
That’s probably because while there was no anesthetic, Kentucky had plenty of moonshine.
In the 1800s, and before, back pain that was not a direct injury was thought to be a form of rheumatism. In fact, according to the book, “Occupation and Disease: How Social Factors Affect the Conception of work-Related Disorders” by Allard Dembe, it wasn’t until about WWI when the US passed the major worker’s compensation laws that back pain was considered to be a result of trauma, meaning an injury, not rheumatism, which was considered to be an illness.
There was also considered to be difference between a debilitating spinal injury, from something specific, like falling from a horse, or a building, and an injury from something like working in the field, or the garden. The latter was rheumatism. In fact, I still remember the old people talking about their “rheumatism flaring up” and rubbing their backs when I was younger. I didn’t understand then, but now it makes perfect sense.
The term rheumatism in the current sense has been in use since the late 17th century, as it was believed that chronic joint pain was caused by excessive flow of rheum or bodily fluids into a joint.
The term rheumatism is somewhat older, adopted in the early 17th century from Late Latin rheumatismus, ultimately from Greek ῥευματίζομαι “to suffer from a flux”, i.e. any discharge of blood or bodily fluid.
Before the 17th century, joint pain thought to be caused by viscous humours seeping into the joints was named gout, a word adopted in Middle English from Old French gote “a drop; the gout, rheumatism.”
Now, the good news, if there was any for those 17th and 18th century sufferers, is that opioid medications were readily available “over the counter” at that time, so hopefully, while our ancestors were in pain, they truly didn’t suffer terribly.
I know for a fact that my bootlegging ancestors had their own brand of pain-killer, and I doubt that some of them did enough manual labor to hurt their backs in the first place.
Still, I’m very glad to be living today, because if I do need surgery again one day, I want anesthetic, and I’m very grateful for modern medicine, especially after reading that article titled, “A Brief History of Therapy for Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury” by Jason Lifshutz and Austin, Colohan, M.D.s. In many cases, it looked to me like the treatment was worse than the injury. If I were you, I’d just skip that article and take my word for it, or better yet, maybe just go and get yourself some of that moonshine and you won’t care anymore about what’s in that article, and you won’t remember that your back was hurting either!
Thanks to one and all for your kind words of support, prayers, flowers, e-mails, cards, chocolate (that’s a medicine, didn’t you know) and the cookies too – not to mention lunch visits, smoothie runs, fabric cupcakes (no calories and cat approved), rides to the doctor and two turtles. Don’t ask about the turtles. That’s a story for another day – and yes, that too involves Miss Mary!!!