Friday, September 28, 2012

It's wheelchair time...I have to get to the Journey concert

Come hell or high water, I'm going to the Journey concert next week after buying tix months ago -- before my spine failed me -- I need a positive experience right now.

It's getting old waiting for a chance to get an epidural steroid injection (ESI) to address the acute pain caused by the extensive spinal disc degeneration and a bad herniated disc in my lower back. I need it at the point where the disc is pressing on the nerves causing the numbness, loss of muscle strength and intense pain in my hip and down the side of my left leg to my foot (and to a lesser degree, the same in my right leg). My entire left foot is numb and has been for a month now.

They are so backed up with appointments for the ESI that I: 1) cannot even make an appointment; 2) I have to wait for a call re: a cancellation and it could be less that 24 hours before the outpatient procedure -- so you have to have transport and someone to watch you at the ready. This has gone on since 9/11. No help.

I've been telecommuting for work for 2 weeks, doing half days working up to full days. Being a techy, I had a good set up at home to do this, and I fortunately do a lot of work in the cloud. I can do 90% of my work from home. I have a headset mic so I can dial in to meetings. It's been a godsend to be able to connect with my colleagues and the outside world, but it's frustrating to not be in the office. I really don't have the stamina to handle full days in this condition and walking around the office, and driving takes a lot out of me (as in I need to sleep/rest for a couple of hours afterwards; you don't realize how much your back is involved in driving until you're in a bad way), so I avoid it.

On the weekends it's been pretty depressing, since I have to be off of my rheumatoid arthritis medications (in anticipation of surgery); I'm dealing with the joint pain and fatigue from that on top of the spine problems. Outings to the grocery store that are longer than 15 minutes of walking simply KO me. Last week I had to go back to the car and wait for Kate to finish up the shopping. I feel so defeated, isolated, weak and tired these days. I'm usually in bed by 8.

The bulk of my energy is expended doing my day job work -- after all I am burning my FMLA down at a rapid pace because of my RA; this spinal crap has accelerated my burn rate and I'm financially losing money as all my paid time off is gone. It's a pretty miserable existence, knowing your professional life (and ability to afford one's health insurance) is hanging by a thread.

Today is yet another appointment - this time to another chronic pain management specialist.

At this point it's like why bother, just go for surgery and be done with this sh*te.

So what does Journey have to do with this?

Regular readers know I am a long-time fairly obsessive fan of the band (I went to NYC and stood for hours in the rain at 30 Rock to see them perform on the Today Show last year; see vid below). Months and months ago I bought tix to the upcoming Greensboro show on Oct 3.  When all hell broke loose with my back in August, I was terrified that I'd have to sell my front row seats for the concert.

Right: Your blogmistress with her limited edition Italian 2-LP gatefold album release of Eclipse, (still in the shrink wrap)!

It's not that I cannot walk or stand of course, but any modest distance or length of time standing can be intolerable -- that means getting around in the large Greensboro Coliseum for a concert is likely going to be problematic, so I'm not taking any chances.  The last thing I need is to have an acute pain attack there. I do have a handicapped placard for the car because of my RA that I use only on really bad days, so that's going to be helpful as well.

So yesterday, Kate and I went to a medical supply store and rented a manual wheelchair (one month = $70). I didn't want to commit to buying one since I'm being optimistic that this level of disability is temporary. If I did feel the need to buy one, it's questionable whether my insurance would cover it; I'm still working (and only rated 20% disabled because of my RA) so it's obviously not clear whether it would be needed after a successful surgery.

Anyway, it's a basic folding chair like the one in the photo. Kate can put in the back of the Subaru. Because of my back problem, Kate has to be the one to lift and get the wheelchair in and out of the car; I cannot transport it on my own.

I thought that I'd feel defeated by the use of and need for a wheelchair, but the pain has been so bad that the reticence has gone out the window.

I know the concert is going to make me "pay" -- in pain and fatigue -- but I simply need to have at just one glimmer of  "normal" life and after the bad health year and in particular this last month I've had.

Rock on.

BTW, the concert date happens to coincide with that the first Presidential debate; sorry Mittens and President Obama, I'll catch your sparring on DVR.

* Reconciling the Old Me and the New Me
* MRI results in - not good news; my spine is f'd up
* 9/1/2012 Rheumatoid Arthritis Diary: the ER visit from hell + an update

My vid of Journey's rehearsal performance of Don't Stop Believing on The Today Show, July 29, 2011:

Journey was part of the Toyota Concert Series on the Today Show. The group sang: Don't Stop Believing, Faithfully, Any Way You Want It, and from the latest CD, Eclipse, the rocking City of Hope. Extra points: the group had just played a concert the night before, hopped on a plane to NYC and performed starting at 7:30 AM. Arnel turned in a good performance despite no sleep and no decent time to rest his voice. Neal and Arnel had great interaction with the crowd. We were in line at 5AM in the VIP line in a downpour for over an hour. It thankfully stopped raining and was cool and breezy for the concert.

This was a rehearsal performance of Don't Stop Believing, so it didn't air. They also did City of Hope and an instrumental of Faithfully (AP needed to save his voice to hit those notes live). The crowd sang instead. ;) The were 2 takes of DSB; not sure if they used parts of each for the West Coast airing, or Journey wanted a redo; both takes were good. 

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