A couple Thursdays ago brought my first visit to a neurologist. Nice. I am slowly but surely making my rounds to the various clinics and modules that the Ottawa Hospital has to offer and accruing a gaggle of specialists at an alarming rate.
Rheumatologist. Obstetrician. Orthopaedic Surgeon. Opthomologist. Neurologist.
How did I land in the Neurosciences Clinic on a Thursday afternoon? In a pre-op appointment back when I was heading for shoulder replacement surgery in 2011, I had x-rays taken of my neck. The surgeon wanted to be aware of any issues that might exist in preparation for the surgery. As it turns out, there are indeed issues with my neck, which showed up in my films.
In a clumsy way and over-explanitory way, one of the residents talked about my neck and the issues that might be there in one of my pre-op appointments. But when asked specific questions like do I have restrictions and what does this mean, he fell back onto me needing to speak with a specialist. Okaaay. And that is where things sat for well over 2 years.
Flash forward to 2013 and a sunny April afternoon. Dr. Da Silva was a wonderful man with kind eyes and a gentle manner. He asked a set of questions, checked my balance and reflexes, but since I don't have any symptoms there wasn't much to talk about. I went for a fresh set of x-rays and he compared them to the ones from two years ago. No real progression, which is good news, but I do have "C1 - C2 sublaxation" and need to come and see him once a year for the rest of my life (well, his life really, since he is older than me). I have a loose ligament at the top of my spinal column which, if it progresses, could require treatment and possible surgery so it doesn't compress my spinal cord. Yep, that's all. Sounds so simple when you type it, but the future is scary if this progresses.
In closing the appointment, we talked about restrictions and activities that I should not be doing. I've never had restrictions before. Generally, with RA, an "as tolerated" approach is taken. Until a year ago, I wasn't able to do much with my body anyways, so it wasn't an issue.
So no skiing, no mountain biking, no activitiy where I may fall at an awkward angle and damage my neck in the process. I can set skiing aside fairly easily, as with two crap shoulders and a fear of falling, it was never a sport I seriously considered. But the mountain biking was tough to swallow. I started biking last year, and really enjoyed it, and planned to upgrade my bike this year, potentially to a mountain bike. I bike on trails in the neighbourhood, some with gravel, rocks and roots and they are level for the most part. I'm not barrelling down a mountain on a bike a break-neck speeds (literally). But still, this means I can't go on the side trails that are more challenging.
It's not the actual activities that I'm upset about not being able to do, it was more the restriction on what I could do, setting aside if I wanted to or not. It's the taking away of the possibility and opportunity. The further shrinking of the field of what I can do. It's seeing my future slowly but surely getting smaller. And having one more thing on the horizon that could go wrong. It's just one more thing.
The appointment itself was great. What the appointment respresents for the future is not. A friend of mine recently introduced me to an alternative band called Vampire Weekend. Ok, setting the band name aside, they have some great music. I've latched onto "Giving up the Gun". It's a song about going back to your roots and re-kindling your past passions and hobbies that you've lost. This is a good juncture to focus on what I can do, versus what I can't controll.