August 11, 2008

monday quiz: the spinal edition

i'm very pleased to introduce you to our fourth guest quiz writer, frida, whose blog fridawrites is a smart take on disability, gender and writing. take it away, frida:

Jigsaw Puzzle

Sometimes in a fit of curiosity, people ask what's wrong with my spine. I stand there for a minute, stumped, because I really don't know where, or if, to begin. I've thought about making up giant business cards perforated like jigsaw puzzles, one diagnosis on each piece, and carrying them around with me. The pieces would include:

Frequent fractures, severe idiopathic osteoporosis/low bone density, scoliosis, muscle imbalances, whiplash, herniated and bulging discs, degenerative disc disease, nondiscogenic lumbar pain, pseudosciatica, sacroiliitis, piriformis syndrome, cervical radiculopathy, neurological lesions and high bladder pressure/ incontinence from spinal cord impingement, sinus tachycardia, low blood pressure from pain, psoriatic arthritis, spondyloarthropathy, ankylosing spondylitis.

If all that sounds confusing, it is. Usually, I only have time to give people a piece or two of the puzzle, not the whole picture. That leads to odd advice that just takes into account the acute symptom at the time, such as osteoporosis or herniated disc, or, more generally, fatigue or pain.

I've received quite a number of unusual suggestions to relieve my spine pain...

Which one of the following suggestions has NOT yet been made to me to relieve my spine problems?

Prolotherapy: injections of dextrose into the hypermobile ligaments around my SI joints

A visit to hold the healing dirt from the hole in the floor of the Catholic chapel in Chimayo, New Mexico, known to cure people of chronic conditions

Drinking ayahuasca and sanango tea in shamanic ceremonies in New Mexico to cast out my demons and increase my serotonin uptake

Divorce and possible job change because studies reported in Newsweek suggest the vast majority of back pain is caused by psychological issues

IV chelation to detox heavy metals, NAET allergy therapy and counseling for unresolved emotional issues

Free polls from

In the meantime, I recently decided I should consider becoming a medical transcriptionist like my sister and earn a partial living by transcribing my own medical notes.

thanks, frida, for sharing a bit of your story with us and for the excellent quiz. is it the demons, the dirt or the divorce? how about the needle or the tea? puzzle it over and make your best chronic choice. after voting, look for the answer in the comments section.


sarah said...

what i want to know is whether you have tried any or all of these. they are pretty f-ing intense!!!

Gaina said...

I voted for the Prolotherapy.

Because that takes a modicum of education to understand what that one actually is, and the person who knows this will also know Mexican dirt just isn't gonna get the job done when you have all those conditions!

FridaWrites said...

Oh, I can't say yet, Sarah. I give myself away too easily. I promise I'll tell next week! :X

Donimo said...

ah, the classic "unresolved emotional issues"... that one just never goes out of style. this is a tough quiz, frida. you have two way out there ones with the demons and the dirt, but i know from experience that people suggest the darnedest things. i like gaina's reasoning, but is she right? would somebody be so crass as to suggest that you needed a divorce? maybe not. i think i will vote for that one. but wait, people are often crass when it comes to chronic pain. oh sheesh. i need some of that special tea!

FridaWrites said...

Okay, I'll say I've tried at least one. There. :)

FridaWrites said...

What a close vote! The anwer is: "drinking ayahuasca and sanango tea," although scientific studies on ayahuasca indicate it may have the most promise if I don't go with the "big gun" spondy drugs. I have visited the chapel and held the cool dirt. Didn't help. I have quit my job, but I don't think the stress contributed to physical pain; instead the physical pain began to make it too difficult. I've had the same pain flares and remissions when I've worked part-time, full-time, or as a full-time parent, and in a couple of different jobs. I have also tried the counseling portion of the chelation, allergy therapy, and counseling suggestion, mostly to deal with disability issues and people's lecturing about what I "must" do. :) I haven't tried prolotherapy--the statistical evidence isn't strong, though some individuals say it's worked for them.

sarah said...

well, i got it right. but frida, i really think you should just try all these cures. after all, people just give you the advice because they know what's best for you and are only trying to help. aren't you showing a great deal of ingratitude here?

JUST KIDDING. excellent quiz.

Donimo said...

i guess you've been trying things to get people "off your back," as it were. it's amazing the range of suggestions you've been given and i'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what you've tried. i didn't guess right, but now that i think about it, perhaps shamanic ceremonies and demon possession is actually way too out there a suggestion. people say the darnedest things, so you had me quite stumped on this quiz!

thanks again for being a guest blogger.

FridaWrites said...

I know, Sarah, I'm such an ingrate! :) Actually I should tell some of these people, "you first!" since they'll recommend things they haven't tried.

These are among the more bizarre suggestions, but I had about 10-15 others from which to choose. I was in New Mexico near Chimayo anyway, so I did cave to pressure there. Most anything I try I need to try anyway (job change, counseling), but I won't do it just because of spine pain. These days I have to brush off almost all suggestions because I'd have to be a full time and very wealthy patient to do anything differently.

Thanks for the opportunity, Donimo--it was fun to guest blog!

seahorse said...

Great quiz! And I got it right. Somehow I knew you'd held Mexican dirt...a friend recently tried to get me to go to a healing revival and touch an oily cloth. I wonder if I may have gone had I not been too ill to get there?