Last week I saw my doctor for my annual physical exam. I asked her about my back.

About 2 years ago I was leaning over the sink washing dishes when my back suddenly gave out. My legs collapsed and I found myself hanging by my arms from the front of the sink.

Ever since, it’s been in constant low-grade pain. A year ago an X-ray showed deterioration of a disk in my lower back. At the time the recommendation was “do some core strengthening exercises”.

For the past year I’ve done a lot of stretching, but serious core strengthening exercise has been out of the question. Any attempt to put pressure on my lower back made it feel dangerously close to failing altogether again. I can bend so far, and feel a twinge that tells me, “one more millimeter, and it’s gone. I get the same feeling if I move too quickly, lie down the wrong way, standing suddenly from a sitting position. If I sit too long, I get a tingle down the back of my legs. Last week, I sneezed and it went out. I grabbed onto the door jam I happened to be standing next to. Otherwise, I’d have been on the ground. It took 15 sec or so before my legs came back. Every time it happens, I wonder if it’ll be permanent.

On Wednesday I went back for an MRI. By Thursday afternoon, my Doctor had me set up for a consultation with a back surgeon. The soonest date he could see me is early next month.

On one hand, the prospect of back surgery to start off 2018 isn’t the happiest of new years. On the other not living with the constant pain and the ever-present worry about suddenly losing the use of my legs at any given moment is something I’m looking forward to. And the sooner the better.