health, personal, rant

Taking the Strain Off My Bad Back

If you have read a few of my more recent posts then you would know by now that I have degenerative scoliosis, two protruding discs and two Tarlov cysts along the S1 and S2 regions. My painful condition is alleviated by Lyrica, which is a strong nerve pain reliever. The medicine, however, leaves me zonked out some mornings or afternoons because somehow it is not able to make me drowsy during the evenings when I actually take it.

So, yes, I have a bad back and bones that are older than my 31 years. The neurosurgeon advises against heavy loads. I wonder how I can make it through my life without having to carry heavy loads.


I have a 5 pound laptop (8 Gig RAM, core i5, NVIDIA GeForce). I can’t make Photoshop and Autodesk Maya work in a netbook, obviously.

My bags are mostly made of genuine leather. My mom loves buying me bags. I get bags from her whenever she visits the Philippines.

I have a 45 pound three year old. Love him so much!

I am a multimedia teacher. This means that I don’t just bring my laptop but also textbooks and piles of test papers.

I love my gadgets: my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Kindle keyboard. I bring them along MOST of the times. Now, I am trying NOT to bring them too often and perhaps not together.

I love BOOKS. Good thing there is Kindle or else I would bring loads of books if I cannot decide… but then again I am an MFA in Creative Writing student. So, I still bring some books that are not available via Kindle.

However, I really do need to change my lifestyle.

So, here are some must-haves – at least in my case:

A large bag made of cloth material with a zipper. The last time I used one without a zipper, my wallet, credit cards, ATM cards got stolen. That last time was just last week, btw, and I am still waiting for some of the other replacement cards.

Comfortable, all-around shoes. Locally made pairs from Rusty Lopez (at only 2000 pesos for each pair) are heavenly. The leather is light and soft. I need more pairs of these. I have a tattered grey one and a brown one.

A slim book or ultrabook that can handle Maya. Oh ok, I have to save money for this one.

A pillow for sitting down for hours. Thankfully, my husband got me one for our sixth wedding anniversary. Now, I am wondering if I should buy another to bring for work.

At the moment, the above are all I could think of. I will come back to this blog to update when I think of more.

(image courtesy of


health, personal, rant

Update: Tarlov Cysts

The good news is that I won’t be undergoing surgery any time soon. My nerves are not pinched significantly by my protruding discs and Tarlov cysts. The bad news is that the cysts do need to be monitored regularly. I am set to undergo another MRI in three months’ time to check if the cysts are growing. At 4 cm in diameter each, the cysts manage to be not so problematic, but things could change if they grow even an inch each.

If things go for the worse, I might undergo surgery. Surgery plus hospital accommodations and doctors’ fees will total to approximately 400,000 pesos. The money is a small fortune here in the Philippines. It will also take two weeks for one to recover from the spinal surgery. Also, there is that strong possibility of the most excruciating pain imaginable. We are, after all, taking about a spot where a bundle of nerves lies.

Right now, though, I am still feeling a little lucky. I am set for two weeks’ physical therapy to strengthen my spine and to hopefully correct the protruding discs. I have been prescribed more than three months’ worth of Lyrica, a strong nerve pain reliever. I am also taking care to avoid carbonated drinks that block the absorption of calcium. I am drinking milk twice daily to hopefully correct three decades’ worth of nutritional and lifestyle mistakes. By lifestyle, I don’t mean one that is full of vice because I do not drink, smoke or eat lots of fat. In fact, I choose the meat when the maid and I go grocery shopping. I go for lean meat, fish, and veggies. There are fruits all the time, too. Juices are abundant. Unfortunately, I often shy away from milk and water. Somehow, though, a generally healthy-living medical doctor’s daughter ended up with lots of health problems: tarlov cysts, degenerative scoliosis, protruding discs, asthma, kidney stones, mild fatty liver. My dad and uncle are medical doctors. My brother is a medical intern. I am the sick one.

Still, I have to keep on fighting. I have a young son who is relying on my survival. I pray that this stage of my life is only a reminder of my mortality – that I should take things slowly because I tend to work as if there is no tomorrow. I don’t want to be right – about that tomorrow I mean.

(Image of me as a nineteen year old working at my dad’s clinic as secretary. This was in Dominica before I went back to the Philippines for university.)