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Update on my horrible back pain

Well, I went to the doctor today, and the MRI showed that I have a bulging disk that is probably pressing on the nerve and causing my pain. I was given a bunch of steroids that are supposed to get rid of the inflammation so I can heal, and I'm to take them in steadily decreasing doses, making note of when the pain returns.

He said something about giving me a steroid shot once we know where the pain starts coming back. I also have a referral to a neurosurgeon to see about possibly having it surgically fixed, but I'd rather not be cut if I can avoid it. Hopefully these steroids help and my back heals itself!

In good news, my nerves are not being smashed, sliced or otherwise damaged beyond repair. This is a source of great relief to me, as for a while the pain was so severe that I was sure I was going to cut a nerve and end up paralyzed or something. I also worried it might be another tumor, so learning that it is not was very comforting!

I told him about the numb patch on my back, and he said that was a hallmark of what the MRI says is wrong with me. Hopefully it will go away. Also, having surgery could just make it worse for a while as the nerve would likely be bruised and/or stretched during the procedure, and I suspect that would make work excruciating, so if I can realistically avoid surgery, I will.

We are planning to go on a 7.5 mile hike (that's the roundtrip distance) up to Spray Park in the foothills of Mt Rainier on Friday in order to see the wildflowers, and it should be gorgeous. I think my back will cooperate, as long as I don't have to clamber over boulders or anything, and from trip reports we've read, the trail seems fine. Just a bit of snow here and there.

Yesterday we went to REI and got ourselves some goodies at their Labor Day sale. I got a rain jacket, rain pants, and a polartec fleece kind of underlayer/jacket thing. Patrick got a rain jacket as well, and we both got fire-making sticks. They're mostly made of magnesium, with a sparking strip down one side (I think it's flint or some relative).

Rain jackets for hiking aren't like raincoats that you think of normally. They're a lot lighter, as when you're out in the field you don't want to have to carry more weight than absolutely necessary, and they also allow moisture to escape that builds up inside. The seams on our rain stuff have been sealed, so they're waterproof, and all the various openings have storm flaps so they won't blow open in the wind.

We were lucky to get it all on sale. The cream-colored polartec fleece layering item I got was originally very expensive as it's Arc'teryx, which is a really fancy hiking brand. They make splendid outdoor gear, but you really only need stuff that high-tech if you're wandering around in the arctic circle or summiting a real mountain (like Rainier or Everest). Fortunately for me, though, it was slightly more than half off, so I was able to get it! I love clearance sales. It will be excellent for hunting season. My jacket is Marmot, and a beautiful deep cobalt blue. The pants are REI and black. I'll show you pictures when I have a chance. This Blogger app doesn't do links.

Honestly, Patrick is right: the Marmot rain jacket looks for the most part to be just as good of quality as the Arc'teryx one I tried on (with a few obvious bells and whistles excepted), but for about 1/3 the cost. AND it was on sale. So it was a smashing deal. Yay!

Cannot wait to get out into the mountain air and see some wildflowers! There will be some gorgeous views of Rainier as well, provided the weather cooperates. I'll see about snapping some pictures for y'all so you can come along with us! <3
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