A Pain in the Neck

Fashionista in my neck stretcher.
Fashionista in my neck stretcher.

I wrote about initial plans for sabbatical a bit ago. Those did not work thanks to Covid.

Two weeks into Plan B, I’m learning that perhaps my lesson of the time off is to step back and not plan and let life happen. Every idea that flitted through my mind as a great thing to try has been thwarted so far. Letting go is hard to do, though.

Plan B was to go on long mountain hikes and immerse in online coding courses for fun. But the neck pain I have been experiencing since mid-March is only getting worse. I stopped dancing thanks to the pain (although I still join the classes to watch the steps and learn about the music), and it hurts to walk on any sort of incline/decline. Thinking a hiatus from computers could help, I stopped blogging and coding for a bit. It helped a little, but not much.

Finally, I went to a dr. Thank goodness offices are starting to open. I’m so not used to people-ing nowadays that I felt quite discombobulated heading out the door. I told Chris I felt like I was forgetting something, but maybe it was just him. I’m used to us doing most things together, but that morning we had decided to do our own things.

It wasn’t until I was halfway to the dr appt that I realized I had accidentally put on my bathing suit skirt instead of the normal skirt I wear.

Seems like I’m doing well with the relaxing part of sabbatical. :blush:

The front is mini-skirt level, but the back rides a bit higher — so not great for public. But it was too late to drive home and change. I decided to go boldly and act as if I did that on purpose. Of course this would be an appointment where I was sent to another place for x-rays and then to Walmart for medications. Oy vey. So many people.

The dr trip was worth it. I found out I’ve got several issues with the muscles, deep tissue (tissue issues, hahah) and some bone spurs on the front and back of three vertebrae.

This means I am supposed to stop anything that causes me pain (it won’t help to push through — I asked) and three times a day I’m supposed to apply heat for 10-15 minutes, apply a cream then apply cold compresses for 10-15 minutes. My friend Pat gave me an over-the-door neck stretcher a few months ago, which is perfect. The dr said to keep that up.

I also have meds to reduce inflammation and handle pain and will hopefully start physical therapy soon. At first the dr thought it might be a few weeks before I could even start therapy due to lockdowns, but it seems I lucked out. They are starting to open, and should be calling me within a few days.

Sabbatical plans did not include excessive amounts of time sitting on my duff listening to audio books and watching movies — about all I can do pain-free at the moment. I had a day where I was quite bitter about it. Poor Chris listened calmly, gave words of encouragement and sent me off to take a relaxing bath — a perfect solution. After that I realized this timing of all could be a real gift.

If I had gone to Europe as initially planned, those flights could have been soooo painful. The same would happen with a drive to Utah. If I were still working, I would be pushing through lots of pain and trying to find time around work hours for PT and compresses. Time is not a concern at this point.

We still thought of traveling to Utah as more of the country opens up, but the dates we had set to go aren’t working out because the kids are taking turns coming east ๐Ÿ™‚ I get the joy of seeing them without the pain of travel. What a gift.

As always, there is the Buddy factor to put things in perspective. My friend was a quadriplegic, and still embraced life despite limitations. I have no right to complain when others have it so much worse.

Now I’m trying to think of things I can do that might not take too much neck movement. I can probably code or blog for an hour or so every few days.

And I’m enjoying watching birds (any good tips for identifying birds in the northeast US? I’m looking for something like https://aussiebirder.com/ but for the New England area).

Exercising is possible on small levels — flat walks, sitting at the pool edge and kicking my feet in the water without feeling it in my neck. Doable.

I’m pretty certain I’m not the first person to go through something like this… Any other ideas for ways to calmly, productively pass time without pain?

25 responses to “A Pain in the Neck”

  1. I highly recommend Dragon Speech Recognition software and a headset to dictate your blogs. With my low vision, I tend to lean in to my monitor and that is very uncomfortable, so with Dragon I can speak and the post is written, without the difficult positions I use for typing. It’s very accurate and will read back what you’ve written – great tool! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

    • That’s a great one! I used that when I was a professional writer. Not sure I can use it with the job I have though. So many tabs to jump through fast. But hopefully PT will fix me. I do blog using voice dictation often.

  2. So sorry you are not feeling your normal chipper self. That totally stinks! I will be praying that the pain lessens soon. Sitting still is not normal for me either, unless I am reading a good book, so I do not have any helpful hints on that end unless you take up some form of craft. <3

    • Thanks, Tonia. I don’t want to pick up any hobbies I can’t maintain when I go back to work. It will all be fine, though. I’m happy to have friends and kids visiting over the next week or so to distract.

  3. I’m so sorry moving is painful for you. My favorite part of the day is nap time! That could be good for your neck unless lying down is painful. My favorite bird app is Merlin from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It’s free but takes up a lot of space on your phone. I love it because I don’t need data out in the woods to look at it. I hope you will get relief soon.

  4. Fingers crossed and recrossed for your pain to disappear! Guess it’ll be a gradual thing, but it probably came on that way, huh? So… Wishing you the best!!! <3

  5. Praying for a full recovery Chrissie, and relief from pain. Yes, these challenges can have a blessing factor, where we begin to have a greater appreciation of things we may not have previously. It was interesting reading your journey to now. My wife gets sudden neck pain that can last days and then disappear and be debilitating, though she takes pain killers presses through. She will ask for a neck massage for relief. Her’s is due to stress mostly, but yours appears more physiological as burs are not nice.. Birding is a rewarding recreational pursuit but be careful with your neck not to look up into a tree, you will need to stand back so your neck is not too affected. Blessings

    • Great advice on the not looking up. Right now I’m trying to figure out bird calls from out my window in the early morning. It’s kind of fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry to hear about your wife’s pain. I’m glad it doesn’t stay.

  6. Good morning, dear stranger. I haven’t heard from you for ages so I figured that you and your hubby went out backpacking in Nepal. Isn’t that what a Sabbatical entails? On top of that, you haven’t visited my page in months…Buh…Buh (crying) Un baccione. Arrivederci.

    • Thanks. I’m an extremely limited screen time for a while now. CBD won’t heal what’s going on with my neck, but it does dull the pain. I try not to use it so I don’t do more damage to my neck (just as I try to avoid other pain killers), but will use it when I have to travel in a car for a while. I think it’s much better for the body than Advil, Tylenol, etc. Thanks for your kind wishes.

      • And I should clarify that when I take it for car trips, I’m not the driver. Also, it’s legal where I live.

  7. I have similar neck and spine issues, so I definitely feel for you! Would be interested in learning what exercises the PT recommends. I haven’t been able to start PT because of the quarantine here.

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