Monday, December 5, 2011

Compression Fracture of the L3

It's been  a few weeks since I came off Blu and I'm still hurting.  I'm glad I listened to my Mom.  You know how sometimes when your Mom tells you you should do something and you say "ok" just to make them feel better, then don't actually do it?  (Yeah, me neither!)

But seriously.  When I was thrown from Blu Thanksgiving weekend I told my Mom about the experience and she told me about a friend who'd hurt their back and didn't go to the doctor for weeks (or maybe months?) and eventually had major problems.  She encouraged me to see the doctor and I said ok.  I called the doctor that Monday morning at 8:30am and had an appointment at 10:00am.  I guess you get one of those precious appointments that's kept available each day when you say you were thrown from a horse and hurt your back. (Hmmm - same thing happened when I said I had abdominal pain - got an early am appointment and ended up having my appendix removed.  I'm sensing a theme.)

I described the incident to my doctor and she checked my flexibility, my reflexes and my spine for tender spots and such.  She also checked out my foot/ankle and said it was sprained.  But it didn't hurt much in comparison to my back.  After the exam she said I needed to get an x-ray to rule out a compression fracture of my spine.

Compression Fracture??!!  As in broken??!!  No way!

She told me it was either that, or a muscle related injury.

I figured it was muscle related because the pain was basically like other times when my back has "gone out" except more painful.  But I went for the x-rays anyway.

When I left the doctor's office after the x-ray they told me it would take up to 4 days to get the results.  (Don't ask me why it takes 4 days to read x-rays!)  But Tuesday evening I had a message from my doctor that there was something abnormal in my x-ray and they needed to do an MRI.  I was to wait for them to call me to schedule an appointment.

I got that call on Friday at 4:30pm.  I needed to go in for the MRI immediately and could I make it at 8am Saturday?  Yuck.  I would have to get up at 7am on a Saturday.

But since I'd gone this far I figured I ought to go get the MRI.

I showed up before anyone else was at the office.  The technician showed up next and let me in and he set the MRI to do it's safety check while we talked.  I was in the MRI machine for more than 30 minutes!  A 1 minute test followed by an "you ok?" question (yep).  Then a 7 minute test (ok?/yep) an 8 minute test (ok?/yep) and then finally a 19 minute test ("you did great - the images are great").

When I was finished the technician showed me the images.  It was truly cool to see my spine, spinal cord, kidney, intestines, etc. just like you see on the medical shows.  To my untrained eye my spine looked fine.  I didn't see any obvious cracks or anything and I told him that I figured it was muscle related.

Shows what I know.

Sunday night the doctor contacted me to let me know that I had a mild compression fracture of the L3 and multiple bulging disks.  Yikes!

I'm incredibly grateful that the injury wasn't more serious that it was.  I'm walking and doing most of my normal activities, with the notable exception of riding.  The "fix" is to give it 6-8 weeks to let it heal on its own and let the pain be managed with medication.  No surgery, no brace, just taking it easy and not doing anything that might cause further injury it before it has a chance to heal.

Now that I'm a few weeks past the initial shock and major pain, I'm getting impatient to ride.  The weather has been absolutely beautiful on the weekends.  I'd say it's killing me to not ride, but truly, I am still VERY aware of how lucky I was and do not want to do ANYTHING that could affect the healing.  I do feel pain still, and get sharp twinges when I bend "just so" or move too quickly, so you can be sure I WILL be waiting the full 8 weeks and will get my doctors approval before I start riding again.

I'm also VERY grateful that my injury didn't affect our trip to Las Vegas (I got the doctor's ok to go) for the NFR and our Elvis wedding with Sharon and Bill!

More on that later!!!!  Hint: if you haven't already seen it, you can go to my YouTube channel now to see the video of the wedding....

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