Monday, March 23, 2015

This ain't no party, This ain't no "disco", This ain't no foolin' around.

So I went to a local chiropractor and showed him my dexa scan.  He was unimpressed with the small amount of scoliosis in my spine.  He said that almost everyone has a small amount of twist.  After confirming that my left leg has only about half the strength of my right leg he sent me off to an imaging place for a couple MRIs.  I'd never had an MRI before and so the first one was novel if a bit noisy.  The second one was boring and I left wondering why someone hasn't figured out how to put a small movie screen in the cover that's an inch or so above your nose.

The next day I returned to the chiropractor after he'd looked at the images and he indicated that a big part of the reason why my left leg is wonky is related to the fact that I have a herniated disc between L4 and L5 plus a bit of stenosis (a narrowing of the passages from which nerves exit the vertebrae).  This was news to me.  Because of this the nerves aren't communicating properly with my hip and leg muscles on my left side.  The MRI also revealed that at some point I had a compression fracture in one of my vertebrae.  This last was probably the product of an automobile accident from 45 years ago when a guy in a Chrysler Imperial rear-ended my Triumph TR-3 (think very small sports car) while I was stopped, waiting to make a left hand turn.  I did suffer a concussion from that incident but was unaware of any other effects--either I'm an insensitive brute or my body doesn't feel like telling me about every little jot and tittle.  Probably just as well that I decided to cancel riding the motor cyle enduro which I was entered for that following weekend...

What the chiropractor didn't explain (or maybe my short attention span brain didn't focus at the right time), is if I have a herniated disc why don't I have more pain than I do?  After returning home I googled "herniated disc" and came to the conclusion that how a disc ruptures has a lot to do with whether or not one experiences serious pain or not.  Pain is experienced by those unfortunate souls in which the ruptured disc, in turn, compresses a nerve. The stenosis part means that the opening for the nerve has also narrowed, and so the muscles in my left leg and hip aren't getting the same signal strength as those on my right side. 

Additionally, in the three years after breaking my right arm, I've been carrying my wallet in my left back pocket rather than the right one.  I'd earlier noted some tingling in the toes of my left foot and just before consulting with the Chiropractor, came to the conclusion that prolonged sitting on that bulging wallet was a big part of that smaller problem.  Currently I've moved the stuff I normally carry in my back pockets to the side pockets of my zip-up fleese jacket.  Spring's here and with warming temps I'll soon have fewer pockets available to spread out this collection.  OMG!  I'm having a fashion emergency!   Along with a chiropractor I'll probably need a freakin' purse for all the pocket stuff that's part of my daily life. 

But, aside from a small amount of pain I've experienced and the inconvenience of not being very swift about turning CCW on ice skates, the conclusion I've drawn from all this is that your old diarist has been pig sh*t lucky--so far.  This could be very much worse.  Maybe all those downward dogs I've been doing at yoga have had an unrecognized benefit.  Anyway, I'll be having "adjustments" three times a week for the next few weeks to see if  the Chiropractor can improve the weak nerve firing on my left side and also advise me about how to strengthen my core so to keep that disc better protected and hopefully avoid going down that painful, compressed nerve highway.  If nerves are intent on firing it would be appreciated by management if they'd just do their job and fire so that associated muscles move appropriately rather than merely being a source of complaint.

So, the Chiropractor will be looking for improved left hip and leg strength as we progress through this treatment plan. The metric which I'll be using is whether or not I see marked improvements in those pesky skating elements which heavily depend upon the left side of my body.

I related all this to Coach K. at our Saturday morning session and we spent that day's lesson working on left forward inside Mohawks (the element which cost me a busted arm three years ago) and consecutive back inside and outside edges which I need to clean up (big time) prior to taking the pre-bronze Moves test.  By the end of the lesson we were seeing small improvements in all of the above but I've got a long way to go before I'll be happy with any of them.  Even a simple backward C push using the left leg takes a lot more effort and produces a weaker push than the mirror image move using the right leg.  The right leg seems to do it's thing subconsciously while the left leg requires my brain to think about what needs to be done.  Somehow I've got to shrink the lag time between my brain thinking about an element and my left hip and leg actually executing that instruction.


  1. Wow, a herniated disk and stenosis--that is a lot to think about. I've heard that strengthening the core works wonders overall. You seem to be taking all this in the proper spirit--working on that left side means just another excuse to keep skating. Will look forward to updates!

  2. Jo: Yep, I just keep waiting to see what else modern imagining will turn up. As an aside, you and I probably shouldn't skate together if we ever meet at a social ice dance--it appears that neither one of us will be able to manage the first left hand turn!

  3. I'm glad the scoliosis didn't turn out to be as significant as it might have looked on the DEXA, but now you've turned up something else to treat: modern imaging indeed. Don't get a C-T scan anytime soon I guess! Seriously though I hope the chiropractic will help your nerves and strength on that side.

  4. Mary: Scoliosis, kyphosis, stenosis--I'm amazed I don't have psychosis by now! Each new image reveals yet another "interesting" aspect about my aging carcass. I'm also amazed that, under the weight of all of these various "-osis", I can somehow still stagger to my haunches and walk around, let alone stand up on ice skates and do semi-complex stuff--I must have a very primitive operating system with a lot of built-in redundancy!