Tuesday, March 17, 2009


In my last post I mentioned the problems I was having with my back, and at the time was excited about it's improvement. Since then, my back flared up again and I was beyond frustrated. Nothing I tried was helping and I was again stuck in bed while my mom cared for Allison. At the urging of our neighbors, who are also our good friends, I made an appointment to have an MRI done to find out what was going on, because it was obviously something beyond what I had been treating it for.

Sure enough, the scans showed severe deterioration of the lowest disc in my spine, causing the bones to rub together and nerve endings in that area to be irritated. The doctor sharing this news with me explained it in very simple matter-of-fact terms as if I had broken my little toe. I stood staring at the black spot on my MRI where a disc used to be and tried my hardest not to cry so I could come up with questions for the doctor to help me move forward. I asked why this happened - what did I do to get this way? What about future pregnancies? What can I do for the pain, because I can't even pick up my daughter? How long till I heal? The doctor didn't have any great or satisfying answers, and my will to stay tear-free was slipping. This happened out of just pure "bad luck", and could be genetic. He usually doesn't expect to see a case like mine unless the person is at least in their 40's. Future pregnancies are certainly an option, "but will be very painful". As for pain, he offered to write me a prescription for pain pills, but I'm allergic to those and have no desire to build up a dependence just to make it through the day. How long will I deal with this? For the rest of my life. Surgery is definitely in my future, but we'll try steroids and physical therapy first.

I left the clinic with the most composure I could manage, but broke down into sobs when I was safe inside my car. I sat there thinking of all the parts of my life this would effect. I understand that this does not compare to something like cancer, but I still felt like a part of my life was being stripped away. I had just spent the better part of 6 weeks in terrible pain, and leaving my mom to care for Allison - which is my job, and I LOVE it. I missed out on her during that time and I felt the separation from her so deeply that I couldn't imagine this going on any longer. I had gone to the clinic looking for a solution to this problem, and instead I got a bleak diagnosis from a young uncaring doctor.

The depression I felt that day was so strong that I cried the whole way home wondering what kind of life I could have when I can't even bend over to put a plate in the dishwasher. Mostly I was sad for the time and experiences I would miss out on with Allison and any future kids we have. I want to be able to run with her on the beach when we go on vacation, swing her around the backyard by her feet, help her climb trees, and still be able to pick her up and hug her when she's five and skinned her knee for the first time after falling off her bike. I don't want to miss out on any of the small things. The older Allison gets the more I go crazy over her. I really think I've found my place in this world as her mom, and I can't imagine it any other way - so to think of losing even part of that breaks my heart.

I don't write all this out in order to search for sympathy, but because I'm amazed at how God placed people in my life that day to encourage me. We had made dinner plans with Marcus and Tricia for that night, but we canceled since I was so upset. They sent me a cookie bouquet the next day, which really surprised me! They were delicious, but more than that they reminded me of what great friends we have. When I called Tricia to thank her she shared a story about a guy she knew who had the same diagnosis, and who has been pain free for 3 years now since going through physical therapy and continuing a daily routine of exercises to treat the problem. I can't tell you how much I needed to hear that!

We were also blessed that day by our neighbors Kyle and Andrea who brought us a wonderful dinner. To top it off, Kyle shared that he had this same problem in his neck, and after taking the steroids and doing physical therapy you would never know he had any problems. This was coming from a guy who was told by four doctors that surgery was the only way for him. Three years later he's doing great and doing all the things he was told he'd never be able to do again.

And, of course there was the support I can always count on from Frank. I tried to get him to admit that he felt like he had married an 80 year old, but he wouldn't confess. :) He's never made me feel guilty about the stress that this has put on us logistically and financially. He's always interested in my well being first and foremost, which means a lot because Frank always means it.

I start physical therapy tomorrow, and I'm taking these success stories with me because I need a constant reminder that this can have a good ending. I have a hard time trusting this process, but knowing that other people have gone through it is exactly what I needed to avoid giving up. The steroids I'm on have worked wonders so far, and have given me the ability to care for Allison all yesterday and today by myself. Thanks for all the prayers that I know some of you have been lifting up. I can't imagine going through this without the support God has sent my way.


Jen said...

Thank you for opening up this way, Kristin, you're really amazing. I am so thankful to have you in Frank's and our family's lives! My Sunday School class and our church as a whole have been praying for you, and our specific prayer is for God's healing hand and mercies to just surround and cure you. We know He is the Great Physician and He can heal. It's wonderful to hear how He already is showering you with His grace and mercy, what a testimony.

Kiss my sweetie Allison for me...:)

Donna Lawson said...

1)I'm sorry to hear this. I'll be praying for you. A lot. For healing.
2)I'll be smacking Tricia and Marcus for not telling me do I could pray sooner.
3)Frank didn't admit to marrying an 80 year old because he doesn't feel that way.
4)Been to physical therapy for my back. The bad news...they're mean to you. The good news...they can take it when you're mean right back.
5)I'm not going to cry for you because we aren't crying friends, and because I expect healing. (How awkward would that be if the two of us took to crying? NO one would know what to do.)
6)Love you and if you need help at any time it would be my privilege. You know I don't have a life.

Heidi said...

Oh my goodness my thoughts and prayers go out to you. I am so sorry for what you have been going through. I could not imagine.

I have had scoliosis ever since the beginning of highschool and it has definitely limited me in my activities. I can no longer run and get back pains quite frequently. So I somewhat know what your going through, just not to the same intensity.

Just remember that God is good and he will help you through these hard times along with all of the other wonderful people in your life.

Jenny M said...

I am so so sorry to read this! I will be praying for you and your family! If you need a 2nd opinion, this guy is GREAT! http://www.spine-health.com/doctor/orthopedic-surgeon/andrew-park-dallas-tx

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. It must be so frustrating and emotionally painful. I wish I could be there to help you!

We will all be praying for you.

Debi Morton said...

Kristin, I was so sorry to hear this news about your back. Your hope however is beautiful. You are truly glorifying God as you go through all the emotions and honestly pour them out. Your trust in Him is obvious as is your humility to receive from the body. You are amazing, and I will certainly join you in praying.

Jackie E Barnett said...

Kristin, you are the most amazing, beautiful wife and mother. I love how you love Allison - you give her good direction and surround her with love even now. You bless your family so much. I can't imagine it any differently no matter what, and I know God is holding you in His arms.