On March 24th, when I had an endoscopy to find out about my terrible bouts of nausea, they found I had a small gastric ulcer. The prescribed treatment was to get off my high-powered anti-inflammatory medication. The result has been devastating because the majority of my health problems are the result of inflammation. These are: rheumatoid arthritis which affects connective tissue, which is found between joints and surrounding some internal organs; osteoarthritis which affects most joints; fibromyalgia which affects muscles; neuropathy which affects many of my damaged nerves. The final result is that I'm restricted to living in my recliner, making me a shut-in.
The first vertebrae are cervical; this is where our skull is attached. This is the one exception to the rule since there is very little cushion between each vertebrae, the nerves that come off the spinal cord run through neural foramen or holes in the vertebral bones.
Next are twelve T (thoracic) vertebrae.
Next are 5 L (lumbar) vertebrae.
Last are the S (sacral) vertebrae. These start out as individual vertebrae but by our late teens/early 20s they solidify together into a bony plate.
Some of the results of the MRI are expected:
They found the deviation of the lower spine which I've known about for over 30 years. There is no statistical data to back up blaming my back problems on its presence, which is why it is called a deviation and not a congenital defect.
They noted some “nonspecific edema of the posterior subcutaneous tissues” behind the lower vertebrae. This is probably due to inflammation, which is not a surprise since I've been off the one medication that kept this under control.
Other results of the MRI are more serious:
Starting at T12 and running down to L5 are minimally bulging discs and the facets show degenerative arthritic changes. This pretty much explains why standing and walking are so painful for me.
Most of the problems are between L4 and S1 --
The fat that surrounds the spinal cord has enlarged, compressing the cord and the nerves as they come out on each side. This is called epidural lipomatosis and is a side-effect of the steroids I have to take since my adrenal glands no longer work properly.
The disc bulging at L4-l5 is slightly worse than the rest of them, the facets show some enlargement (due to arthritic changes) resulting in a narrowing where the nerves come out from the spinal cord.
All of these problems explain much of the back and leg pain I've been experiencing. The treatment is now more complicated than what I used to get. It used to be treated easily by a single steroid epidural. But now I have to have two separate types of nerve blocks. The first is a different type of steroid epidural at L4-L5. The next will be three weeks later – a series of facet blocks higher up, probably between T12 down to L5. Praise God they put me out completely for all of these now.
I'd appreciate your prayers for all of this stuff. Pray for the pain doctors, that they will give me the right kind of blocks in the right areas and that they will work. Pray that I will learn to be content with whatever state the Lord puts me into, and that I will do the best I can with whatever capabilities I do have. It has been a long time since I've had this level of pain for this long – it is not easy. Those of you who have experienced chronic pain understand and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.