Altitude Sickness
February 15, 2017

The only thing between me and a powder day? Injury…

Well, campers, the skiing has been outrageously good. With a series of Nor-Inchers, we continue to get nearly nightly refreshers in the woods and on the trails, and the skiing is delightful. That is the good news. Here is the bad news:
I am not able to take much advantage of it, because it turns out I have some major long term damage to my spine. This damage started as a herniated disk in my younger years, and as I have told you all about (at great length and with great enthusiasm), I have done physical therapy daily for the last 28 years keeping my spine moving.
This injury was exacerbated by a motorcycle wreck in the year 2000, when I noticed that part of my spine stuck out more than other parts, making crunches on hard surfaces difficult. It didn’t hurt, so I just kept doing what I was doing. After a couple more ski wrecks, I turtled a mountain bike on a steep downhill (so I landed a couple of feet below where my front tire touched the ground) onto uneven schist with my phone in a hard case in the back pocket of my cycle jersey. I wrote about that accident, in fact.
In other words, I beat the crap out of my spine. But though it was more painful than before, I was functional until December when I just made a wrong step (I stepped off a step that I didn’t think was a step), and was suddenly in excruciating pain. I have been writing about this pain and the pulmonary inflammation that is slowly suffocating me, since.
It’s gotten to the point where I have trouble standing on concrete for work, I have trouble standing up long enough to play a music show. I can lift heavy things (I pick things up, I put them down), I can do all sorts of athletic activity including some grueling long distance trail run/hiking, but ask me to stand still for a minute, or walk around on concrete, and I am suddenly in excruciating pain, which goes away almost instantly when I sit or lie down, and especially if I get into Child’s Pose for five minutes.
As I saw from the X-Ray of my spine (taken earlier this week), there is basically no disc left in one of my intravertebral spaces. There are places where there is apparently bone to bone contact—there’s even a worn groove. I now feel like my spine has tiny fingernails on a tiny chalkboard, inside it. Further, one of the vertebra is clearly displaced a quarter to a half inch out from where it should be.
The pain has been bad enough that I thought I must have a bad hip. Merry Christmas, the X-Ray shows beautiful, perfect hips. Don’t worry Brady, its just your spine…
This explains a great deal, including the first fingers of panic rising into my stomach like misplaced flames licking around the outside of a furnace boiler. I feel like I am on the wrong side of a Hunter S. Thompson novel. I am now all raw edges and apprehension, taking a few weeks off from work to do physical therapy (anyone have a pool I can walk in?) and see the chiropractor twice a week.
I would like to get this back to the point where I can take a walk in good sneakers on pavement.  I am going nuts on my bike trainer and googling disc replacement surgery, which is apparently a thing.
As for Pip (“The Impaler”), he finally seems to be on the mend. We have had to stop all treats, all vegetables but for a tiny slice of carrot and a small piece of lettuce, supplement him with vitamin C, cycle him through two types of antibiotics, and feed him only hay and water, but … his diarrhea (very dangerous for pocket ruminants like guinea pigs and rabbits) is slowly fading away.
His anger at being fed hay instead of tasty treats on the other hand, is not fading away. He is biting more, although I have been handling him more, holding him while the vet gives him shots, putting antibiotics in his mouth, all without reward. I hope though, that I can get at least one of us healthy soon!

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