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On Being Human

Photo by Aubrey

At the end of January, I came down with an “upper respiratory virus,” which is a fancy name for the flu. Thankfully, I recovered from the virus, and I’m incredibly grateful!

The bad news is I’ve experienced back pain since February 9th, and I’ve had a hard time walking, standing, and sitting for long periods. I’ve dealt with chronic lower back pain since I was a teenager. However, it seems like the pain has become worse over the past two years. So far, I’ve been able to mitigate the pain with walking, swimming, and gentle yoga. But I need to do more for my back, so I’ve taken action steps toward better health.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen my massage therapist, a chiropractor, and my primary care physician to work on a wellness plan. For instance, my doctor gave me a referral to a physical therapist that specializes in spinal rehabilitation, and I’ll start working with him next week. My doctor also suggested strengthening my core and starting Pilates once I feel better.

Also, I brought my new book—The Whole 30—to my doctor’s appointment because I wanted to talk to her about changing my eating habits. Specifically, I wanted to know if The Whole 30 could reduce joint pain. We had an interesting discussion about how certain foods can cause or prevent inflammation.

For example, my doctor has seen patients with arthritis who’ve given up gluten and dairy, and, as a result, they’ve reduced their pain or it’s gone away completely. However, she cautioned that diet modifications don’t work for everyone. With that being said, she encouraged me to try The Whole 30 because it could be beneficial for my overall health. I start the program next week!

Finally, I had an X-ray done to make sure my spine is okay. The X-rays came back with unfortunate news. I have degenerative disc disease and “lumbar facet joint arthritis,” which is a fancy name for arthritis in my lower back. I’m in pain because my joints are very inflamed. The good news is that the inflammation will subside in 6 to 8 weeks.

The diagnosis is a bummer, but it’s good to know what’s wrong with my back and how I can treat the problem. I’m excited about my wellness plan because I am determined to regain my strength and get back to my active life. Being able to walk and stand without pain is one of my top priorities. If I’m not taking care of my body and mind, I can’t help friends and family members.

My health issues pale in comparison to what’s happening with our cousin Aubrey. Last weekend, she was in a horrible bike accident while training for the 2016 AIDS Lifecycle. Currently, Aubrey is in a coma with a very serious brain injury, and the recovery process will be long (probably up to a year).

Aubrey is a kind, caring, considerate, and loving human, and she has a whole tribe of friends and family that love her dearly. We’re hopeful that Aubrey will make a full recovery, and I’m happy we’ll be visiting her this weekend.

Last night, Logan and I talked about Aubrey’s accident, our worries, our fears, and our hopes. I told Logan that I felt like this was a bad dream. It’s hard for me to fathom that Aubrey is in the ICU with a severe brain injury. She’s receiving incredible medical care, and friends and family are showering her with love, support, and prayers.

As Joan Didion said, “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.” Aubrey’s horrible accident—plus my own health issues—reminded me how fast life can change. I don’t have a 20-point list on the topic of health, tragedies, or what it means to be human. However, I want to encourage you to practice self-care, to offer love and support to friends and family, to be generous and kind, and to savor every moment of your life (even when it’s hard).

With gratitude,
Tammy

Please note: I am not a medical professional, and this article is based on my personal experiences. If you have a severe back injury, see your doctor immediately.

Photo by Aubrey Howell

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew Odom February 18, 2016, 5:57 pm

    And so I send all of those things to you Tammy: love, support, generosity, kindness, and a healthy measure of friendship. Bless you.

    • Tammy Strobel February 18, 2016, 5:58 pm

      Thank you, Andrew! Sending hugs your way.

  • Sandra Pawula, Always Well Within February 18, 2016, 5:58 pm

    Very moving and so true. I’m sorry for your pain, Tammy. I’m glad there’s an end in sight. Your an inspiration for all of us to take care of our health.

    • Tammy Strobel February 18, 2016, 5:59 pm

      Thank you, Sandra. I’ll be okay. 🙂 If you have a chance, please say a prayer for Aubs or send her lots of good energy. She needs it. xo.

  • s.e. February 18, 2016, 7:02 pm

    As much as arthritis is a bummer. I was worried when you said you had ongoing back pain. I have heard of tcases of back pain recently, both in my community (a close friend of my neighbour and somebody that I know casually) and elsewhere where ongoing back pain ended up being advanced cancer.
    Anybody who has ongoing back pain should get an xray for sure to rule out any serious health issues.
    I am so sorry about your cousin:(

  • Kayla Dawn Thomas February 18, 2016, 7:24 pm

    I’m so sorry for all that you’re going through. Sending prayers for you and your cousin. I’m having major low back and shoulder pain too, so I feel you. We’re still trying to figure it all out. My mom and sister have the same pain, so something hereditary. Here’s to healing!

  • Linda February 19, 2016, 3:48 am

    I’m so sorry to here about your health issues and about your cousin Aubrey’s accident. Please know that many thoughts and prayers are being sent your way.

  • Aaron February 19, 2016, 6:30 am

    Wishing you all the best with your recovery, Tammy. I’m currently going through a rehabilitation program with a physical therapist for an old lower back issue that has flared up again. It’s a slow and frustrating process but I feel that the cautious route my PT and I are on is the best one for the long term. Sounds like you are adopting a similar approach. Take care and thank you for sharing.

  • Emily February 19, 2016, 8:41 am

    Tammy I’m so sorry you have been having this tough time! I know the pain of having a loved one in ICU with traumatic brain injury, Karl (my now husband then boyfriend) suffered one after he was hit by a car a decade ago. The recovery took time, waiting was the worst part, but healing is possible. Self-care is absolutely paramount for anyone living through trauma with a loved one.
    Also hope your back pain subsides, from my own joint issues all I can share is that gentle movement has been invaluable for me, and just floating in a pool can really help take the pressure off at times. Also meditation has helped me live with what is, and be OK with the fact that some things will always be there.
    Thank you for sharing, I’ve only commented once or twice before but am a long time reader and always enjoy your writing xx

  • Diane February 19, 2016, 11:50 am

    What a dreadful thing! I hope she makes a full recovery. And best wishes to you for finding an effective back treatment program.

  • Gary February 19, 2016, 9:23 pm

    Sorry about Aubrey’s accident and wishing for a healthy recovery.

    I remember having back ache and went to a massage therapist. They avoided the area I was hurting, which is why I went to them in the first place. How was your experience with a massage therapist? I am eager to see how physical therapy help with your road to recovery. Please follow up with an update.

    • Tammy Strobel February 22, 2016, 10:50 am

      Thank you Gary. I love my massage therapist. She’s been so helpful. I’ll share an update about my physical therapy experience soon. My first session is tomorrow. 🙂 Have a great week.

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