Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, March 19, 2007


Had a bad day and night Sunday, sciatica-wise. Hurt almost as bad as it did the first day the symptoms occurred, more than two weeks ago now.

I have another appointment on Thursday with my osteopath, who's going to try some manual "manipulation" of the sciatic nerve, as the pain pills I've been given just don't cut it. In fact, I seem to have an unfortunately high tolerance to pain meds – when I was in the hospital, the doctors first said they would be able to make me "comfortable" with medication after my surgery. After the first 24 hours of failing at that, they said they would settle for "bearable." As far as I'm concerned, they never really managed that, either – I'd rate their success level at "almost tolerable."

My doctor acknowledges my resistance to pain meds – "Sucks to be you," were her exact words – so I'm hoping that her vaunted osteopathic treatment will accomplish what our best 21st Century wonder drugs apparently cannot, and ease the pain enough for me to get back to serious work.

Over the last two weeks, I've managed – most days anyway – to actually sit at my computer for some good long stretches. Doesn't mean that I'm comfortable, though, or that the pain is ever gone. I've managed some writing, but it has been very difficult to concentrate, and I've been continually frustrated in my attempts to make any headway with my assignments.

I'm so sick of being in pain. I'm so sick of being forced to make excuses for not being able to stick to my schedules. My wife pointed out today that I've been in pretty much constant pain of one sort or another since last July. Cripes. Eight friggin' months.

I guess my doctor's right.

It does suck to be me.


Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

That does suck. I've had sciatica for ten years, but it's never been bad enough to require surgery. Hope your pain eases up soon.

Christopher Mills said...

Yeah, like just about every damned ailment that comes my way, I always seem to end up on the high end of the severity scale.


Craig said...

You have been down the pain path in the last year... still, I think it'd be pretty cool to be the guy with your accomplishments! [Did that ease the pain at all??]

Anonymous said...

Pain like this can be life-altering (not in a good way). I had back pain years ago, from a herniated disc, that would flare regularly every 6 months. I literally wouldn't eat so I wouldn't have to crawl to the bathroom. This went on for years.

That began a turn to non-medical approaches, starting with acupuncture which shortened the duration of the 'attacks,' then several years of going to a Feldenkrais practitioner, to start to straighten out the malalignment that caused the disc to herniate in the first place and then finally to osteopaths who also helped realign the whole spine and pelvis.

Then I started studying Feldenkrais and eventually went to medical school, became an MD, did a residency in Rehabilitation Medicine, still study with the DOs so that I can work with my hands, doing osteopathic manipulation and cranial osteopathy.

This is the shaggy dog version of why I believe a good DO using her / his hands to diagnose and treat,is one of the best options possible for you.

Another option you and your wife can do on your own, which takes longer to have an effect, but is incredibly healthy long term, is to adopt what Dr. Andrew Weil says is the 'anti-aging' aka anti-inflammatory diet. Since irritation of the sciatic nerve (not to mention what is stirred up after surgery) results in inflammation (and vice versa), eliminating inflammation-causing foods is good for that, for your heart, blood pressure, cholesterol and many other ailments.

It takes some doing (especially being vigilant reading labels of processed foods, including sauces and condiments), but the payoff starts showing up in a couple of months and keeps getting better.

Basically it is eating foods that appear as close to how they are in nature with as little processing as possible, such as steel cut oats instead of poptarts or granola bars), eating many fruits (without sugary syrup)and vegetables , using only olive and canola oils and so on. You can find details online or in books. Just like the ancient Greeks, let food be your medicine.

Certain herbs and supplements are also very effective in reducing inflammation and have few, if any,side effects. If you do not have allergies to the ingredients, a supplement called Zyflamend contains many of these herbs. Fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids is also very good; a physician can recommend higher anti-inflammatory doses for a couple of months. There is even one availabe by prescription called OmaCor.

If other areas hurt, or you often have digestive problems, you may want to consider food in a different way. Take a look at gluten intolerance or celiac disease online. The Celiac Disease Society (not exact name) has great info.

Finally, after your back, pelvis, legs etc are in better alignment, starting some exercise to strengthen your abs (under supervision of a good physical therapist, if you haven't already done so) is key to healing and preventing future problems. Strengthening without alignment only reinforces the malalignment.

So there is the 4 am , free medical consult. Your blog showed up because I have a Google alert on osteopathy. Feel free to write at, if you feel like it.

All the best,