Arthritis of the Spine and Believing In Yourself

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • Many of our readers are aware that I have been working, living, and volunteering for many months at a time in East Africa for a few years. It's been very hard work, but a labor of love, and a dream come true for me in spite of all of my OA challenges.


    I was devastated a couple of months ago when my OA disease decided to again rear its ugly head with a vengeance! I guess that, for some inane reason, I had felt "protected" from having any more major flare-ups.  After all, I've had nine joint replacement surgeries from the waist down - I didn't "deserve" any more OA problems. Of course, most of you are very aware that OA can be an "equal opportunity destroyer" - nobody has total immunity! This time, we discovered that I not only have advanced arthritis of my entire spine, but also degenerative disc disease in the low back.

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    There really isn't a "cure" at this time, and we're trying to control the pain. I agreed with my neurologist as well as my orthopedic specialist to be placed on 24 hour pain relievers (everything from a double-dose Fentanyl patch, and Oxycodone at night to Tramadol during the day). I was on most of this for a month and a half and thought I was functioning well. Last weekend I ran into a friend and we had a chat. The next day, I ran into another friend who introduced me to his wife and we had a chat. On the way home, it suddenly occurred to me that this was the same guy, but I'd never seen him with a hat on, and the two chats were almost exactly the same.


    I was not only very embarrassed, but also scared to see vividly what too many meds were doing to me! I had a long talk with my neurologist, where I explained what had happened and asked his permission to be weaned off of all those drugs. I had decided that I'd rather live with pain and think straight! (My doctors finally all agreed).

    When my back challenges became severe, I was afraid that I would not EVER be able to do anything again - and mainly that I would have to stop Patticakes, my custom baking and cooking business. For almost the first two months, I slept and read.  Though I LOVE to read, I felt very unproductive and depressed. When my customers started calling me with orders for the holidays, I was afraid I'd have to refuse; however, I've discovered that I can limit myself to a morning shift of two hours in the kitchen, and then I need to rest and stay off my feet for the rest of the day.  But the point is, I CAN DO IT! Remember...WATCH ME!!!

    In my business, we make hors d'oeuvres, a variety of entrees, breads and rolls, cookies, and desserts, all packaged for the freezer. It's something I love to do (and my customers love the products). It's exciting to discover that, for now, I can continue my work on a limited basis - but I CAN do it! I now have also developed the "courage" to ask friends for help grocery shopping, as I'm not allowed to carry heavy things. My dentist is helping also: he suggested I try to get a rolling stool with an upholstered support in back like he uses. It's wonderful because it takes the pressure off of my low back!

  • It has been one of those very cold, windy and rainy weeks in my town. I'm one of those highly affected by those nasty grey days, so when I awakened today, the sky was a glorious blue and the sun was sparkling.  Immediately, I had a surge of energy. I decided to do my own shopping for my projects  - yes, I'm finally learning to take more short trips to the store with fewer items, so nothing is too heavy. I needed marshmallows for one of my cooking projects, and it seemed to take forever to find them. In Africa, we have few tiny shops with very limited merchandise - I'm constantly amazed at the "new-fangled" things that keep appearing in American stores (makes me sound 100 doesn't it)! When I was a kid, marshmallows came in kind of a box made of wax paper, and there was only one kind. Today, I was amazed at the choices! You can buy super-giant ones, and of course miniatures, some white and some colored. There are also some flavored ones. Then there were some that were in a variety of weird shapes. The ones that I thought the strangest are somewhat square shaped and flat, and I wasn't quite sure what you'd do with them. But, then I finally discovered my plain white marshmallows, paid for them and left (thinking all the time, "Gee, I really must get out more if a marshmallow display entertains me so...").

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    So, in spite of twinges of pain, I'm in a far better place now than two months ago. It was a gloriously clear sunny day - I wrapped more of my Patticakes products and had a very happy and productive day.  I talked to several friends (without repeating my conversations..) I even developed a new soup that is awesome if I do say so myself! It's a fresh asparagus and shrimp bisque - Yum!


    So WATCH ME is still my guide!

    Have a happy Thanksgiving!
    asante sana

Published On: November 15, 2011