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Painful Admission

June 19, 2012

Photo by Mudpuppy/Michael McDowell, Denver CO

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This past weekend, Loree, one of my favorite readers/commenters/garden bloggers, left this in reference to my outdoor dining room post, “So wonderful to see such inspired spaces in your garden again!” I love Loree, and I loved her comment, but it made me sad, because in it she notes something I’ve had to come to grips with: I’ve been neglecting my garden. And while the reason for that neglect is a good one, it doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Here’s what’s been going on …

Just after the Riverside Flower Show and Garden Tour last year, I began to have bouts of back pain. I wasn’t too concerned; I’d had this type of thing before … I also began experiencing frequent sciatic leg pain episodes; as with the back pain, this wasn’t new. I shrugged off both symptoms, took ibuprofen and kept it moving. In search of change, I had my garden sales — successfully ridding myself of most everything that defined the Rancho’s garden — and began thinking about a new scheme. Problem was, the back pain was increasing … and the leg pain became an intense and regular visitor. Garden chores became oppressive and extremely painful. I saw a doctor and pain meds were prescribed … relief was achieved but short-lived. Worse, my work life, with its 3-hour commute, didn’t help, and the work day would end in pain as well. I tried to ignore it all, using this blog to boost my enthusiasm for my new garden plans; I was hoping that by putting out my intentions here I could “make the word flesh”.  It didn’t work. By the end of most work weeks, I was so depleted and in pain I could find relief only by lying flat on my back all of Saturday, leaving only Sundays for projects, shopping and garden visits. The Rancho’s garden suffered,  and I was forced to focus more on details, DIY and thing’s I’d seen online for something to post. Guilt over neglecting both garden and blog increased (ironically, readership grew). Urged by my cardiologist, I began to see an orthopedist, who, through X-rays and MRI scan found my lumbar spinal area a mess. I’ve got numerous problems, including bulging vertebrae with degenerating disc cushioning, scoliosis and multi-level arthritis; the relentless and excruciating sciatic nerve episodes related to all. Surgery looms large (and scarily) in the near future.

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Right now I’m physically unable to do many of the things I enjoy so much: playing with elements in the garden, moving things around, standing back and moving them around again until they feel right; even my favorite activity, walking … It just hurts too much. Pain meds, while necessary, make me dull and listless … my collection of incomplete draft posts are stacking up; they’re not worth posting. Horribly, this past weekend I was forced to pass on a garden blogger dinner at Dustin Gimbel’s place, as well as a Long Beach Flea Market jaunt with fellow Riversider, Britney … I just wasn’t up to either …

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Why am I sharing all of this? Because as Loree’s comment showed, this blog has changed and its focus on my garden and its “inspired spaces” has suffered … and I’m sure she’s not the only one who’s noticed. I plan to continue RR, but as this spinal episode plays out it will change again. Rancho Reubidoux — place and blog — are very important to me and I love both! I hope you’ll continue to read …

Note: The image at the top of this post is that of a new planter I bought from the etsy shop of Michael McDowell in Denver, CO, called Mudpuppy. It seems somehow appropriate to my current situation and it will be my companion/talisman as I go through this episode. See McDowell’s other artful offerings here.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. June 19, 2012 5:23 am

    Good Luck !! I know exactly how you feel ! Lov your blog !



    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 5:24 am

      Thanks, Gwennie, I appreciate it!

  2. RUTH permalink
    June 19, 2012 5:25 am

    So sorry to hear this–I’m sending you healing thoughts from Mar Vista. Let me know when you’re ready for a friend to do some shlepping and adjusting at your direction until you are fiddle-fit again.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 5:26 am

      You’re sweet, Ruthie … hopefully soon!

  3. June 19, 2012 5:37 am

    Reubix1 man that’s terrible. It will limit your activities and adventure in life. I will pray you get well soon. Cheers Nonoy Manga

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 5:38 am

      Thanks, Nonoy, I appreciate your prayers!

  4. carol permalink
    June 19, 2012 9:20 am

    So sorry to hear that you are going through this. As someone who has spinal degeneration, scoliosis, two herniated discs, and had sciatica so severe that I couldn’t even drive for 6 months, I truly sympathize with you. I, however , had the good fortune to find a life saver in a great chiropractor in Pasadena (Dr. Buckley) who saved me from surgery. My research seemed to find that a large percentage of back surgeries ended up in more surgery a few years down the road. Hope you can avoid that. Love and best wishes for our recovery!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 12:13 pm

      Thanks, Carol … I’m adding your information to the my fast-growing pile of anecdotal evidence by those who’ve suffered with spinal problems and I’m finding we are legion …

  5. Victoria permalink
    June 19, 2012 10:05 am

    aloha again from Maui Reuben! I’m a massage therapist here (you sent me seeds a while back) and when I hear “back pain” my go to response is try massage and chiropractic. I’m glad Carol got there first as she’s had the personal experience. I really encourage you to find some good body workers starting with Carol’s guy, they can really help. Hopefully you will be digging and lifting in no time, I so enjoy your pictures and stories and look forward to them as often as you can put them out! Be well and take care..

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 12:14 pm

      Hi, Victoria, you and Carol certainly make interesting points … thanks so much for commenting and reading … I’ll keep you posted.

  6. DaveinToronto permalink
    June 19, 2012 12:54 pm

    Hang in there, Reuben. I hope you can turn this around and get back to normal soon. As for this blog, the truth is that you can write about anything and make it interesting. That’s talent, my friend.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 3:45 pm

      Hey, Dave, thanks … coming from you that’s high praise!

  7. June 19, 2012 2:57 pm

    What a nuisance these spines are! The pain, sciatica, even leg numbness for months is all too familiar in this family, and then somehow sorts out w/o surgery. I volunteer to be a minion and move stuff around — as long as it’s not over 100 deg! Thank goodness you’re interested in and have talent in so many areas — maybe painting again while the back strengthens? Remember, even brujos need to rest now and then!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 3:44 pm

      You’re sweet, Denise, thanks for the surgery (un)plug and offer of servitude … with my new braceros I’ll get that new garden plan done after all! Painting? … it worked the last time I was laid-up, so why not now… 😛

  8. Guida permalink
    June 19, 2012 2:57 pm

    Dearest Reuben, My heart aches for you my friend. DavinToronto is so right, you can write about anything…your talent is enormous. Keep the faith, you will be all right again. xoxo

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 3:46 pm

      I know you’re right, Guida, but with my head clouded by pain it seems far off … thankfully I’ve got good friends to nudge me along … Hello to Danny and thanks!

  9. June 19, 2012 3:46 pm

    Oh Reuben I know it wasn’t your intent but I feel like a bit of a heel. A comment meant to encourage and applaud instead was like poking at a wound. Thank you for sharing your battle, I wish I were closer and could join with Denise in being a day laborer for you. I had my own little bout recently with back pain and know how debilitating it was, and mine was nowhere near the level your experiencing.

    You know we’ll all continue to read, your eye and voice are too compelling to stop! In the mean time you’ve got lots of people pulling for you (most figuratively but hopefully a few literally).

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 3:48 pm

      No, Loree, don’t feel bad … I was already feeling like posting something about my current struggle, you just helped me get my mind together and put it out there. I appreciate the encouragement of everyone of you!

  10. Laura McG permalink
    June 19, 2012 7:42 pm

    RR…so you weren’t at Dustin’s, that was going to be my first question to Laguna Dirt when I see her tomorrow…she turned me on to your blog a couple years ago. Love that bloglove! And ALL your posts. I am one of the legions who also suffers back pain, no doubt brought on, in part, from decades of gardening. Sciatica, compressed disc…but relief with an excellent chiro, raised beds, pilates (oh how I hate being on a mat for exercise instead of on a trail, but a strong core has made the difference in shoring up the spine.) Pain like this is a journey, with different directions to go. I wish you strength and freedom on your way.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 19, 2012 8:09 pm

      Laura, thanks for leaving such an amazing personal message … I really appreciate it. So far, I’ve just been suffering and taking pills, but I’m at the point where I have to take measures before I end up crippled or something — it’s that bad now. I hated missing Dustin’s dinner, believe me!

  11. June 24, 2012 3:41 am

    Reuben, while I began to follow you for your fascinating garden (and because you found me first), you can write a good narrative about ANYTHING, and I, for one, would like to hear about any thrills of victory and agonies of defeat on the new JOURNEY you’re on. I suspect that people’s interest in you has never been just about the garden. Your post today was honest, straightforward and ENGAGING and your style needn’t suffer while your mobility does. The surgery, if/when it happens, could make you right as rain, but don’t hesitate to let us see the clouds forming. –John

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 24, 2012 3:50 am

      Thanks so much, JAR … I very much appreciate your comment and will be posting more soon …

  12. Vickie Perez permalink
    June 27, 2012 4:37 am

    Just had to say that if you had to end up with this, I’m so glad that you got it figured out. After the job, car and horse wrecks, I’ve had more than my share of these kind of injuries. I’ve got to figure out how to live my life without “having such fun”(something told to me by a friend who was trying to tease me into a better frame of mind). Was in the hospital after being thrown from my mare. After a month I was going nuts. Now that you know what it is you will able to deal with it so much better. Just remember to do what you need to do. There are many paths to be healed. If there is anything I can do to help you, please call. I remember only too well how I hated watching my yard go to overgrown and dead. And I don’t live far away. Heal away with many blessings.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 27, 2012 4:53 am

      Vickie, I love that you’ve left this message as it’s truly from the heart … I’m definitely going to have to make changes and it’s not easy dealing with limitations at. all. In fact, I hate them. But now that I know what’s going on, I know it is real … I’m off work and allowing myself to rest and be treated, rather than shrugging it off and pretending it doesn’t exist … and I feel better for it mentally and emotionally, despite being in excruciating pain at times. I appreciate your good thoughts; expect a call sometime. Reuben

  13. Vickie Perez permalink
    June 28, 2012 1:02 am

    As long as you do what the docs say you should and try to keep the frustrations at a somewhat low level you’ll make it thru. As they say, this to will pass. The only question is how crazed you let it get to you. I’m sure you can stand being pampered and such while for a while. I’m sure that you can use the time to do some dreaming up some new creations.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 28, 2012 2:53 am

      I know what you say is true, Vickie, keeping the frustration level low IS the largest part of the battle. I’m going to try to stay in a creative dream-state as much as possible … Thanks again!

  14. Vickie Perez permalink
    June 29, 2012 5:06 am

    Only someone who has been thru it or, taken care of those who have had various ailments will be able to truly understand. And since each of us react differently, if we get all the ways that have helped those others, we can figure which of those ways just might help us. It just that the task sometimes can be a bitch. I sincerely hope that your trip thru this is a short one. I wouldn’t have made it thru the last years without finding all kinds of ways that help. And I know that I wouldn’t have made it thru without the patience of my loved ones.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 29, 2012 5:29 am

      You and I are lucky in that we have patient loved ones; I know I’ll be fine eventually with their help and the help of friends like yourself. Thanks, Vickie!

  15. June 30, 2012 4:43 am

    Three years ago, something shifted in my lower back and the pain brought me to my knees. From that moment on I have lived in pain. My list of treatment included the following: Rx, orthopedic consult, physical therapy, MRI (misdiagnosed as degenerative disc disease in L4-L5 region, just a sign of aging). Began chiropractic therapy which helped but I wouldn’t hold the adjustments and the pain came back. My current chiropractor (this is my second one) requested another MRI. Bingo, found out it was L5-S1 degeneration, herniated disc and narrowing of the foramen supplying innervation to the left leg. Bone was actually rubbing on bone! I was recommended for spinal decompression therapy. I began treatment on the DRX9000 and have 23 treatments to date. The results….I have felt better than I ever had! I can exercise again. I am still dealing with muscle weakness but have no more sciatica . No more creaking and popping followed by burning in my lower back. I have not had chiropractic adjustment now for three weeks! Does the DRX9000 work? In my situation YES! The data claims 86% success. In my situation it is 75% successful. I take those odds over 30% success rate for surgery any day. As far as the financial issue, that expense was far less than having to give up my job and income.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      June 30, 2012 5:20 am

      Very interesting, my surgical consult is scheduled and I will be interested to see what the surgeon recommends. Thanks for commenting…

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