So I spent the morning with a neurosurgeon looking at images of my spine and associated tissues, bones, and ligaments. I could clearly see the difference between the thick and bright white healthy discs and the dark thin areas representing the discs that had been herniated years and years ago and had since, over time, degenerated further. But the real offense in this chapter of my epic adventure in lower back pain is "L5" where we were able to see that a section of the disc had actually broken off and was lodged up against the major nerve running down my right leg. Hence all the pain and numbness. The doc said: "I'm surprised you were able to walk at all."
Naturally this made me feel like quite the manly-man...never mind the crying I did last week, nobody saw that . Anyway, the good news is that this is apparently not something we need to worry about in terms of serious long term problems. Though because of the severity of my initial injury ages and ages ago I am going to have back issues the rest of my life, this particular hiccup isn't going to be my ultimate undoing. Because I have seen a good deal of relief in the department of pain this last week, the doc believes we should wait to see if my body can heal itself. If in 3-4 weeks the numbness and weakness remains, then surgery will be necessary to remove the offending disc material.
After the appointment I hobbled outside and took a bus down to the ferry terminal. But about halfway through the bus ride we stopped as a parade of innumerable Seattle Police on or in bikes, motorcycles, and cars halted traffic. The bus driver announced, "Looks like we have a presidential candidate or something." Meanwhile fellow riders around me grumbled about it all with one another and watched as the motorcade went on and on and on - more cops than I have ever seen in one place. And then luxury cars and SUV's, one of which I assumed was carrying the VIP. All stopped right in front of us at a fancy downtown hotel - I could not see who got out.
Typical of Seattle, my fellow riders' commentary went something like this:
"I wonder who it is?"
"It's not Obama...I know he's not here."
"Well if it's a republican we should just hit him."
"Yeah, run the SOB over."
"Our tax dollars being spent to protect a fascist!"
"Think of all the money being spent here...fancy cars...all those police!"
"Think about the carbon footprint they are leaving!"
"Republicans don't give a damn about our environment!"
Furthering mutterings of disgust...
Well...come to find out.
I laughed out loud when I found out.