Words You Don't Want To Hear

May 14, 2007

At my physical last week, in addition to blood work, the doctor ordered an x-ray series on my lower back. I've had persistent, chronic lower back pain for eight or nine months now and she wanted to rule out structural problems first.

The x-ray shows severe degenerative disk disease. Calling it a disease is a bit of a misnomer; everyone as they ages has disk degeneration. It is a part of the aging process. In my case it appears to be accelerated or at least more advanced than one would expect in a 46-year old. I haven't had a second opinion yet, or seen the x-rays for myself, but as I read over the literature on this condition it all rings true.

The next step, in addition to a second opinion, is to start physical therapy. As odd as it sounds, increase physical activity may actually improve the situation as it will strengthen the surrounding musculature and aid the ailing disks in their primary role of supporting the spine.

The good news is that my blood work came back normal across the board. My cholesterol is 148, and all the functions (thyroid, liver, et cetera) are within the normal parameters. The HDL component of cholesterol (the good stuff) is a bit low and I'll be adding a daily supplement of fish oil to counteract that. In three months we'll test it again to see where I'm at. The triage nurse assures me that the fish oil doesn't taste like fish oil, and even it it does it can be frozen and taken as a lozenge.

So I'm a healthy 46-year old with degenerative disk disease.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.