A Real Pain In the Neck: It’s Not A Too-Mah!

horse massage

Perhaps I need one of these?

Ever felt like someone was stabbing you in the neck with a large flathead screwdriver?  How I’ve been feeling lately is exactly how I think it would feel.  I say this because we have one in the garage and that’s the mental image I get as I’m in pain these days.

After five months of issues with my neck and upper back ranging from uncomfortable to excruciating, I had finally reached the breaking point.

Yes you saw that right.  FIVE MONTHS.  Why have I not gone to the doctor?  There are many reasons, the first and foremost being that I’m used to being in pain.  I’ve had back problems forever, this just seemed like yet another chapter in the ever popular saga of “Look what motherhood has done to my body!”  I also live with a man who feels that if you’re not bleeding profusely it’s probably not serious enough to go see the doctor.  Add to that the fact that I don’t make any money right now.  Making the decision to pay to go see a doctor about something that may be something but could be nothing is almost viewed as a luxury.  Believe me, I’ve shelled out my share of money for conditions that were unsolved mysteries.

Remember this?  The I-Don't-Remember-What-The-Award-Is Award?

Maybe I’m just questioning things too much…

So back to the breaking point.  About three weeks ago I felt a small lump on the back of my neck where the pain seemed to be worsening, right around where the pinched nerve I’ve had forever lurks.  I’ve had some lumps and bumps pop up on my bod lately, and they almost always turn out to be another zit.  But this was not turning into anything.  I don’t know how many times I played contortionist in the bathroom trying to get a good look at it in the mirror.  I tried to show Evil Genius, who of course thinks that I think that there is always something wrong with me.  Naturally I didn’t pursue that venue too long, since he has all kinds of coefficients to think about.

I didn’t look this up online, by the way.  If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that one thing I’ve learned is to never ever ever google your symptoms.  EVER.  You’ll think you’re dying.  When all of this started back in December, I made the mistake of looking stuff up and wrote about it. I had what turned out to be bronchitis on top of everything else that was going wrong, and my subsequent neck pain was poo-pooed as being a little from being sick and a lot from anxiety.  Another reason why I haven’t been back to the doctor.

Don't do it!

Don’t do it!

Anyhoo, I’m rambling again.  Back to this week.  After the third night of very little sleep due to being uncomfortable and anxiety ridden thoughts like “What if it’s cancer?  I will die and my kids will have no mom!”  I finally called the doctor’s office.  Often getting in to see the doctor around these parts is like playing a strategy game.  I got to talk to the nurse, which is always F-U-N.

“And why do you need to see the doctor today?” The nurse asked.

“I’m experiencing neck pain.”

“How long have you been experiencing this pain?”

Um…ummmm… be honest, “Please don’t laugh at me, but five months.”  I replied, and then quickly added  “There’s a bump there too!”

Then I had to spend another few minutes describing this bump in detail.  I must have done a good job, because I was in.  Shockingly I got in that morning, but it was two hours away.  I spent the next two hours in an anxious person’s hell, because I do this every time I have any kind of ailment.  I spent two hours worrying about the doctor’s appointment.  Should I live like I’m dying?  What if I go in and she takes one look at the bump and whisks me off to have it removed immediately because it’s that advanced?  Should I go ahead and name the bump something like Cher so I can talk to it?

Anxiety-cat-400x300By the time I made it to the doctor’s office, I was pretty much a basket case.  Luckily they didn’t make me wait very long.  I went in with my list of symptoms in hand (because I forget to mention really important things) and then promptly forgot about it the second the doctor walked in.

The doctor looked me over and asked some questions.  She had me do some interesting things with my arms, because I am soooo strong and in shape these days.  She felt my neck, including the bump.

“So what do you think it is?  Do you think it’s serious?”  I asked nervously.

“No.  That bump is part of your muscle,”  she replied with a smile.

Really?

More questions-had I been in any car accidents?  Had I fallen from a great height recently?  Did I fall down the stairs (this is a legitimate question-everyone knows my stairs are out to get me).  Unfortunately, there is nothing that I could pinpoint that could have caused me to injure myself and thus explain some of the pain I was experiencing.  Bummer.

After looking me over a little more, she declares “Looks like we’re definitely going to need some x-rays.  Would you like to go to the main clinic (in other town) this week, or wait and set something up here next week?”

“It’s not life threatening?  I’m not dying?”  I had to be sure, you know.

“Nooooo…”  she said, still smiling (STOP SMILING!  It’s not funny!)

“I’ll do it next week.”  I figured since I wasn’t going to die that I could wait and do it when it was convenient.

I was sent away with prescriptions for muscle relaxants and a pain reliever that wouldn’t upset my stomach like 800 mg of ibuprofen would.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about muscle relaxants, I think of this scene from Sixteen Candles:

Muscle relaxants.

When I think of muscle relaxants… Sixteen Candles Wedding.

I can’t say that they’re working like that for me, which is a little disappointing.  I feel a little weird, but that’s about it.  I can’t say that the pain reliever is doing much for me either, which is a lot disappointing.

As for what I believe is going to happen next, I foresee some more physical therapy in my future.  I’ve been there and done that in the past.  If it makes me feel better, I suppose it will be worth it.  And because I’ve been waiting for an excuse to use this meme again, here we go.

Oh yes...

Oh yes…

This Is Your Body On Stress: Insane in the Brain

anxiety cat

I love anxiety cat.

I started writing this post before I found out I was going to be doing a long term sub job.  I decided to share it today because this is the day I start that job and, well hell I’m stressed about ridiculous stuff like having enough money in the account so my husband can get to HIS job too… Is it payday yet?

Stress Is As Stress Does

I haven’t been as productive as I would like to be these days.  This is partially because of the mysterious neck problem continues to plague me.  Instead of blogging and writing like I shoudl be I’ve spent a lot of time trying to self diagnose any fatal illness it might be.  My doctor says it’s extreme stress-and I need to RELAX. Whhaaaaaaat?  I need to relax?

I guess I would know firsthand about how stress affects the body.  Example:

Job I disliked where people would rather have a colonoscopy than listen to me=I was sick all the time

Job I loved with great coworkers=illness was rare for me.  (This is that same place that I am subbing at for the next couple of months.)

(I wanted to make a chart or a graph to illustrate this point, but I don’t know how to do that.  So I won’t.)

Being unemployed for quite some time and feeling utterly hopeless and unhirable, as well as worrying that any day now we’ll be moving into a refrigerator box, I guess it makes sense that I have a little, ok a lot of muscle tension.  My shoulders, my back, the back of my neck-it all bothers me.  But one side of my neck is particularly bothersome.  It’s tight, a little swollen, and sometimes aches.  It sucks.  Remember, the doctor says it’s stress…

stress calories

The Mole

Needless to say, every little thing bothers me these days, because I start thinking about it obsessively because my brain goes nuts.  My thought process is quite screwed up these days. To illustrate this point:  one day last week I had an itch on my back.  I scratched the itch, only in the process felt a scabbed over mole in the same instance that I SCRATCHED IT RIGHT OFF.  Then I freaked out.  Oh my god, why was it scabbed over?  Is it cancerous?  Surely it must be cancerous if it has a big scab on it!  It hurt-well of course it hurt because I just scratched an entire mole right off of my body!  I couldn’t reach it to put a band-aid on it, and everything I did that came anywhere near it irritated it and made it hurt.

When my husband walked in the door I immediately told him that I needed him to do something.  He looked at me suspiciously.  I told him I needed him to put a Band-aid on my back, and to seriously tell me if it was something that needed to be looked at by a doctor.  I raised my shirt.

He yelled “OH MY GOD YOU HAVE CANCER!  WE HAVE TO CALL THE DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY!”

I turned around and looked at him.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  “It looks fine dear.  Now let me put the band-aid on before you die of anxiety.”

I surmised and he agreed that mole was in the precise spot where I turn my bra around to put it on and take it off.  I must have caught it on my bra. Is this how normal people put bras on and take them off?  Just wondering…now I’m going to worry about that.

peanuts anxiety

A Day In the Life of a Stress-a-Holic

Last week I kind of sort of kept track of what I was obsessing about throughout the course of one day.  Read it, and then go ahead, LAUGH.  You know you want to.

Disclaimer:  Things on this little timelinemay or may not be slightly exaggerated…

8 am-Hey no pain, this is great!  Let’s eat some Cheerios, but not too many, because they have to last until payday.

9 am-We have two dollars in our checking account.  Joy.  At least we’re not overdrawn. But dammit my check from the last class I taught still hasn’t arrived.

10 am-Neck is bothering me a bit.  Let’s take a little Aleve before we get non blog stuff accomplished.

11 am-Still haven’t done a thing around the house.

12 pm-I think I have finally conquered the neck issue.  YEAH!

12:30 pm-My phone apparently died because I haven’t constantly kept it on the charger.  I have six missed calls from bill collectors.  Yay.

sallie mae

1 pm-Look at job boards.  Unless I want to be a Navy SEAL or work on an oil rig, I won’t be applying for any jobs today.  Ouch.  Tense muscles!

2 pm-Taking a walk, I think I have an alien in my carotid artery trying to break out.  WTH?  OW!

3:45 pm-It’s time for a nice relaxing shower.  (Yes I’m showering this late in the day.  I have a problem organizing my time.  Don’t judge.)

3:46 pm-Who is screaming? Open the shower door to yell at the kids to stop screaming at each other.

3:48 pm-Realize I haven’t heard anything out of the kids since I yelled at them.  I begin to worry that they are too quiet…

4 pm-Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… What’s wrong with my face?  My face feels like it is getting all hard! I must have that disease that makes your skin get all hard!

4:05 pm-It dawns on me that I don’t have scleroderma.  I just didn’t get all the hair gel off my hands before I put on facial moisturizer.  That would explain things.

5 pm-Here we go, everything is tensing up.  I’m doing dishes.  I HATE dishes.  Quit clenching your jaw!  Quit it!  Stop!

5:05 pm-The children are banned from using the purple exercise ball in the living room after it nearly knocks the tv over.

5:15 pm-Garbage disposal locks up.  I still don’t know how to fix it.  I take the tool and wiggle it around in the drain.  Husband comes back from his run and shows me that I need to put the tool in a hole UNDERNEATH the garbage disposal.  Ohhhh… no wonder that didn’t work…

5:30 pm-Quit touching your neck.  QUIT TOUCHING YOUR NECK!  Oh wait, I think I feel a bump.  More than one?  OH MY GAWD I have tumors and they are multiplying by the minute.

5:45 pm-Cry into the tuna casserole while making it.  Tears are salty, adds flavor.  Mmmmm…

6 pm-Take another Aleve.  I can’t decide if this stuff is really working.  Resist looking up any more symptoms on Google.

7 pm-The icepack is brought out.  I can’t afford physical therapy.  Dammit.

8 pm-The heating pad is turned on.  That’s better.  Maybe I don’t need physical therapy.  Thank goodness.

9 pm-The muscle massager is brought out to loosen up those muscles.  All it does is make the snot in my head vibrate, which is a really strange sensation.

10 pm-I’ve only been on the computer most of the day.  Why would my neck and shoulders be bothering me?

11 pm-Go to sleep.  Quit touching your neck.  Go to sleep…

It can’t POSSIBLY be stress, can it???  Do you have anxiety?  Do you stress out about little things?  I’d love it if you’d share with me, so that I know I’m not the only crazy one on the face of this earth.

Speaking of stress, last month I posted about being sick and how you should NEVER EVER look up your symptoms on Google.  Susan over at Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva was reading my mind, and posted this video that made me LOL and feel much better… Yes she did it just for me, I swear!  Her WebMD: Just Say ‘NO’ video is on YouTube as well as on her blog.  Please go experience her awesomeness!

Was writing this post therapeutic?  Sort of.  Will we make it until payday?  If my husband has to move in with a coworker until then so he can get to work, I’ll let you know.

big anxiety