12 August, 2013

Is everything going to be okay?

Today I went for the follow-up appointment in the department of neurosurgery, where they evaluated the results of the MRI that I had last week. The facts are that I have herniation of two discs: one between L4 and L5, and one between L5 and S1. The herniation is worse than it was two years ago, the last time that I had an MRI. That's what they said. So I asked if I could see it, because I was curious if this was something that required an advanced medical degree to detect. And the answer, unfortunately, is "no," one does not need any form of medical education to see that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. It was plain as day and, to quote a doctor-friend of mine who had looked at the images a few days ago, "Your back is not so good."

It looks bad. It looks like I shouldn't be walking. the lower of the two discs is pushed so far backwards into the space that's supposed to contain nothing but spinal cord, that there is almost no room for the spinal cord to even pass through it. I don't feel like I have much pain, but I look like I should not be walking, based on that MRI. I asked the doctor if he was surprised at my lack of symptoms, and all he said was that he would expect me to have some pain radiating down my legs, which I don't. I also learned from the doctor that I already have a congenitally narrow spinal canal, which only means that there's less space to play around with in the first place down there.

The question I ask myself now is… Did the yoga make this worse?

Two years ago, I had a certain amount of herniation. For about two years now, I have been doing yoga. And I have been doing a lot of back flexion (which the doctor said I should not be doing). Lots of forward folding. Seated folds, Triangles, Side Angles, Pyramids, Plows. I mean, what haven't I done in the realm of back flexion? And now my disc herniation is markedly worse than it was.

I am not sure what to do. I don't want to stop doing yoga. And I want to believe that if it doesn't hurt when I am doing it, then it is not harming me. I have done some things that have not exactly *hurt* but have definitely been a tiny bit tweaky in terms of going too deep. Did those cause damage? Is just doing Sun Salutation after Sun Salutation squeezing the remaining fragile disc further and further into a place that is going to seriously cause harm and require emergency surgery one day?

I don't know. I am supposed to see Physical Therapy next. There is no surgery consultation at this point. Nobody is saying I need to go for surgery. Nobody is saying "don't do yoga" either. All he said today is to avoid extreme back flexion. What does that mean? Is a forward fold with my knees bent and my feet apart okay? Is it not okay? Did the worsening of this injury maybe have *nothing* to do with yoga at all? Maybe it's just an unfortunate progression of whatever was going on there anyway.

As I write this, I am on an airplane, enjoying the metal bar at the base of my seat digging right into the part of my spine that I am trying to protect. I'm also recognizing that flying, and the cabin pressure at altitude, hurts more than not flying.

Fun times.

I had an idea that I would do yoga tonight when I got to the hotel room. But I can't honestly tell you if that's a good idea or not. Maybe Suptabadokonasana for 15 minutes could be called "yoga" and I can call it good for the night.

Where's my intelligence, discernment, and clarity right now?

Everything is so good right now, save for that disc. So I want to live in that place of goodness, but pay close attention to this place of concern. 

I think that's possible, right?

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