It’s been a frustrating month, financially and physically. My expenses are a lot higher than normal due to my medical issue. Plus, I haven’t earned as much because I’ve had to miss a lot of work, so once you factor in my expenses and my earnings for the month, my savings rate is going to be abysmal. Earlier this month I had an MRI and the report showed a herniated disc between L5 and S1. That is the source of my sometimes crippling pain down my right leg. I used up some vacation earlier this month and took a week off. Not because I wanted to, but because I literally couldn’t walk without limping and practically crying out in pain. I’ve been seeing my chiropractor every week and doing stretches every day. I spent a little over $200 on an inversion table, which helps eliminate the pain, at least temporarily.
Ugh! Back pain is sooo frustrating!! Because of the holidays, my employer shut down for the past week. I go back to work Sunday night. This past week I really stepped up the stretching and light exercises in the hopes that maybe I’ll be better by the time I have to go back to work. I’m scared right now, because I still constantly have pain going down my right leg… and I’m not doing anything strenuous. Because of my back pain, I’m worried I’m going to be unable to do my job. I’m on my feet, mostly walking or standing, for twelve hours. Four nights a week. The week before Christmas break I was only able to work part of my shift every day. I had to leave after 8-10 hours. The pain was just to unbearable. Ibuprofin can only take so much of the pain away. Luckily, I have a boss who is understanding, and so leaving work early wasn’t a problem. But for how long can a boss be understanding when an employee is having to leave work every day?
I’m worried right now. I’m not sure what my life is going to be like in six months. Will I have to use up all my vacation right away because I can’t work? Will I have to take a leave of absence? Will I have to go on disability? Will I even have a job? There are so many questions that are up in the air right now, and I hate it! I hate the not knowing. I like to think I’m a relaxed, go with the flow, somewhat free-spirited kind of person, but then this happens, and I realize I’m a more structured person than I thought.
Up until the herniated disc appeared I was really looking forward to January 1st. I was planning on maxing out my IRA on the 1st of the year, just so I could be done with it, and not have to think about it. Now I’m thinking I need to keep that money in my savings account just in case I spend part of this year not working. It makes me a little sad. I did so good in 2015, maxing out my 401k and IRA, and still putting extra money into my savings. I was really hoping to repeat that in 2016 and that might not happen now. I know I should feel blessed that I have the savings that I do. And I do feel blessed, because I’ve been here before, and back then I didn’t have the amount of savings I do now. But when you have something planned and then life happens and that plan gets changed, it can be a little stressful.
Six years ago, in 2009, I was living at my parent’s, working in retail, making less than $20K a year, and trying to pay off student loans. I’d had neck and back problems for a few years. I was seeing a (different) chiropractor. That chiropractor gave up trying to fix my back and told me to see my Doctor. When I went to my Doctor, they sent me to Physical Therapy for a month. When that didn’t work, I got sent back to the doctor, where I was sent in for an MRI. The report showed a large herniation, and surgery was scheduled. I was off work for three months while I healed and went back to Physical Therapy. I received short-term disability, but the medical bills started pouring in and times became tough. After all my bills were paid, I think I added everything up, and I paid something like $8,000 out of pocket. Ouch. That was a lot of money for someone making $9.50 an hour.
So, needless to say, I don’t want surgery again. If there is a cheaper way to fix the herniation, I’m all over it. I’m going to see how work goes this week, and if I feel the stretches, exercises, chiropractic care and inversion table haven’t helped at all, I’m going to make an appointment with a back specialist at a low back institute. I’m not even going to go back to my small town family doctor. All they did was medicate me and tell me, “You’re going to be dealing with this the rest of your life. Good luck. Come back in, in a week, if you want more drugs.” Not exactly what I wanted to hear, so I will not be returning to that clinic for back issues ever again. Luckily, I can schedule an appointment with a specialist without a referral, and my insurance will still cover it.
I am determined to get this herniation under control. I will keep trying therapies and stretches, and anything else that I think might fix it. I will not live with the leg pain for the rest of my life. And with that, I’m off to do my stretches!