Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I'm Still Here, After All

Hi people! I'm still here. I've been a very bad blogger lately.

Oh, I could make a lot of excuses -- real life getting in the way of my blogging, several talks and lessons I've had to prepare for during the last little while. I have been facing health issues, some of them old, and some new ones too.

I think of things to write about during the day (when I should be working), but then when I get home, I just haven't had the energy.

I'm not sure, but I may have been going through a mild bout of depression. Here is a list of symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health:


  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
Of the 11 symptoms listed above, I think I have experienced about 7 of them during the last few weeks. For privacy reasons, I'm not going to mention exactly which ones of these have been working on me - but I will say that I have NOT had any self destructive thoughts or actions.

Health issues are at the heart of these feelings. I don't have any health issues right now that are life threatening (thankfully!). The health problems I am dealing with now are those that restrict what activities I can participate in, and in some cases are debilitating.

I have recently been having a lot of trouble with my back. I have had some back pain, and a lot of shooting pain and numbness in my legs. Right now I can't stand up or walk for more than about 15 minutes, until my legs start going numb.

My back has never been the same since I pulled that all-nighter back in October, when we installed a new server at work. I just way overdid it that day-and a night-and a day. And, as Clint Eastwood would say, "A man as got to know his limitations!"

After suffering with this problem, and some days I have hardly been able to walk, I finally was able to get the help I think I need. I was referred to the Intermountain Spine Institute for evaluation and treatment. After undergoing an MRI, I learned that I have 5 mildly bulging disks in my lumbar region, and pinched nerves due to stenosis in the last 3 lumbar vertebrae.

Tomorrow, I will be undergoing an EMG (Electromyogram) test. This will test the muscles in my legs to determine if they are receiving normal nerve impulses. I may also get some answers about the nerve damage to my feet that has been a problem since last May. I have a follow-up appointment with my Physiatrist to review the test results, and more fully discuss treatment options.

I have already started physical therapy to help strengthen my back and abdominal muscles, with the hope of being able to alleviate some of the back and leg pain that I have been experiencing. I have enjoyed the workouts so far. It it has been positive for me to be actually doing something about this problem. If nothing more, it is helping me to get exercising again. The exercise has helped my mental attitude, and has been empowering as well.

I want to take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf, and to shake things up. I want to get control over my health. Along with the various medical treatments I am undergoing, I want to focus on getting exercise, eating better, getting more (and better quality) sleep, and losing weight.

I know that's a lot of things to deal with. But I have to make the effort to change. It is worth it. I am 48 years old, and there have been times during the past few months that I have felt more like I was 68. I still have a family to raise, and things I want to do. Right now my health is preventing me from doing many of the things I enjoy.

One of the things I enjoy is blogging, and writing. I don't want to let that slip away either. So I am going to be posting more regularly from now on. My goal is at least once a week.