People do *not* just herniate discs in their sleep (unless…)


Uhhh, yes they do.

If they’re me, that is.  Or any of the other 13 people on this planet to whom Weird Shizz like this happens.

Don’t worry; I’m trying to figure it out myself.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

Sometime in July of 2015 (yep, going on two years ago), I woke up from a completely normal, sane sleeping position…

…in completely abnormal, insane pain.  Discomfort that was completely disproportionate to the sleeping position I had awakened in–which was nothing out of the ordinary, even for normal people.  Nobody would’ve watched me sleep and thought, “hot damn!  She’s going to wake up FUBAR in 3…2….1….”

Nope, this came completely out of left field.

I woke up extremely stiff.  That had happened countless times before–you know, the ol’ crick-in-the-neck.

Except that I couldn’t touch my chin to my chest.  Nor could I tilt my head back.  Nor could I turn it from side to side or bend my head to the side like I was trying to touch my ear to my shoulder.

OK, similar stuff has happened before.  I wasn’t too worried yet.

Until I had weird vague shoulder and arm pain that played coy, wouldn’t stay put, wouldn’t at least hurt in a consistent pattern without morphing and changing like the Northern Lights.  Seriously.

And the worst part was the other new symptom: the Tingling in my arm and hand/fingers.  This tingling felt like a limb falling asleep or waking up, except that I hadn’t put pressure on it or done anything else to cause it to fall asleep or to wake up from limb-slumber.

The Tingling progressed to The Stabbing, as I felt like my thumbnail surface was getting pummeled with hundreds of pins and thumbtacks.

As Star Wars’ Princess Leia was famous for saying (and I think I even made the movie reference to my partner):

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

There’s more.

Usually, you can shake a limb awake.  It sucks a little more for a few seconds, but it speeds up the process overall and starts to feel better faster.

Not so with the Tingling/Stabbing in my arm/hand/fingers.  And for a while, this sensation came at random.  Specific positions would suddenly trigger it, but when I tried to hunt it down, isolate it, characterize it, and so on, it wouldn’t be duplicated at will.  It would arise while driving, while sitting at my desk, while hanging out on the couch, while using my laptop, while turning my head.

I’m a doctor.  I knew what this was.  I did what everybody else does, though, and Googled it anyway.

Yep.  A herniated disc in the cervical spine.  The symptoms are pretty specific for that.  I didn’t even need an MRI for diagnosis.  (I might eventually need one for further assessment/evaluation, though).

I hadn’t even been doing anything.  None of those movement combinations that Thou Shalt Not Ever Do, the bending, twisting, lifting, and so on.  I wasn’t even lifting too much weight or holding it wrong, such as too far away from my center of gravity.

I wasn’t doing anything stupid, unless you call having the audacity to fall asleep every so often “stupid”.

I had gone to sleep fine, without so much as an inkling, a muse-whisper, or gut feeling that I would wake up with a bulging disc.  There had been no evidence whatsoever.  But I had woken up with a herniated disc nonetheless.

Who does that??

I refreshed my memory with the helpful information provided by the conventional authoritative information sources.  The initial news was optimistic; “90% heal on their own, without surgery,” they chirped.

And apparently, chiropractic manipulation is well-known to help.

Awesome.  I know a good one of those.

Alas, I was not to be one of the lucky 90%.

Of course not.

(Is anyone surprised?)

Mmmm’alrighty then.  Plan B (Drastic Measures, aka Experimental Shizz) it was.  I’ll write more about that later.

I had resorted to Plan B of Experimental Shizz once before, and it worked like a charm.

I have since, however, re-injured it.  I’m not sure how.  I never am.  After all, when one can simply wake up with a herniated disc in their neck, how is anything else not possible?

The healing time for the lucky 90%?  I’ve heard 6 to 8 weeks.

When did I finally resort to my Plan B?  After three and a half months.

And now, it has flared again, almost two years later.

I’ve since learned that this is quite typical in “subclinical” presentations of “mild” subtypes of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS, which I would bet the ranch that I have.  The symptom collection is too random and too uncanny for it not to be; it matches me too well.  In fact, the symptom lists start singing my song before too long; I know all the words.

Frankly, it explains a lot, like why I tore a hamstring muscle head (or part of it) off the bone it was attached to.  Or why I was born with a club foot.  Or why electronics hate me so.  And now…why and how I could have possibly herniated (slipped, bulged) a disc in my neck, while sleeping…and then been one of the unlucky 10% who don’t heal on my own within 6-8 weeks.

Joy lol.


2 thoughts on “People do *not* just herniate discs in their sleep (unless…)

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