Walk It Off

A little known—or widely known for those that went to my high school—fact about me is that in December 2006 I was tested for early onset Multiple Sclerosis. It all began, when at the age of seventeen, I suddenly and without reason, lost the use of my legs. It was rather dramatic, and even at the time I couldn’t let the irony of having spent my entire life labeled by parents as a “drama queen” pass any of us by. Of course, handling the situation with humor was, if not done on purpose, then an entirely plausible way of handling the situation. My parents were panicked, probably more so than myself, but that was because I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of not walking again. To me it was the only possible outcome.

The day following my, what I will fondly refer to as my, “episode” was uneventful in that none of the tests I endured were anything out of the blue. I visited the ER, where we were promptly told my insurance would not work; my orthopedic doctor, the one who had patched up all of my various broken bones in my life; and the phlebotomist office. By the end of the day, the most exciting thing I underwent was getting my blood drawn and a couple of x-rays. Of course, I’m condensing for intrigue, but for the most part I spent the better ¾ of a day being wheeled from office to office with nothing to show for it. In the following weeks, however, that all changed. My days of leisure in the x-ray and blood-pulling room were over, I was frighteningly moved to the big leagues: MRIs (plural), CAT scans, and PET scans became my norm. EMGs were a given, and a spinal tap, while unwelcome, was had. Predictably, or not, as the tests piled up, the mystery of what my diagnosis was grew. With only an incredibly painful back and useless leg muscles to go on, the many doctors grew increasingly flummoxed. Luckily, signs of a blood clot, stroke, or brain tumor were nil, and MS was ruled out as well. For all intents and purposes, I was a healthy seventeen-year-old girl, who just so happened to have zero use of her legs. Continue reading

Botox: The Little Drug That Could

This morning, I did what any other American woman does. I opened my eyes, stretched my arms, reached for my phone, and checked my Facebook. It may have not happened exactly in that order, there’s always the possibility that I checked Instagram or my email first, but somewhere in the lineup is definitely my Facebook. It’s not something I’m entirely proud of, and actually I can feel my head dipping a little bit in shame even as I type this. That being said, it is cringe worthy to think that the first story I came across was an US Magazine post, with a glaring headline reading: Heidi Montag Is Almost An Aunt.

My immediate thought was: this is breaking news? While my second thought was: awww, Heidi Montag, what has happened to you? Breaking headlines is no news to Montag, made famous by MTV’s the Hills; she notoriously underwent a whopping ten-procedure plastic surgery in just one sitting. With her body now tucked, trimmed, and filled to her heart’s content, her face is probably the least recognizable. Pulled taut by the amazing filler that is Botox, she is no longer recognizable to the fresh-faced twenty-year-old of yore.

It got me thinking, however, about how Botox is quite the wonder drug. No longer strictly used for aesthetic purposes, the drug has made its way to the pain market, serving as a powerful tool for not just the Plastic Docs in our lives. And I should know. While not a licensed doctor or practicing nurse, I’ve had my fill of Botox treatments planted right into my back. Yup, you heard that right, my back. Continue reading

Back At It: Understanding Back Pain

The other morning, in the brief time that I had before getting to work, I stumbled across an old episode of Sex and the City. An HBO favorite from the days of yore, it was an episode I was both familiar with and enjoyed. Admittedly, the story line that stuck with me was pretty cliché, and I’m sure you’ll agree. The story of the pretty girl stuck on the bathroom floor, naked and writhing in pain, waiting for her handsome savior to come and rescue her. Now I’m going to safely assume that we all have similar stories to tell. In my case I was the zany character struggling on the bedroom floor, and it was not a handsome man coming to collect, rather my mother, but I digress.

My point is that back pain; severe, debilitating, back pain is something that we have all at one point or another come across. In fact, it is so common that research estimates that four out of five people will suffer from some sort of back injury in their lifetime. In Phoenix, Arizona alone, researchers have estimated that roughly 1.6% of the population has had some sort of back issue, with a whopping 47.2% of that estimate belonging to the elderly. The other portion is made up of work related injuries and sport related injuries (typically belonging to those of young adults and adolescents) that have required some sort of medical attention. Continue reading