It is an off-putting personality which was birthed from an hypercritical mind. It seems to have been helpful in pursuing a career where such was helpful. But it has never been an advantage in making friends.

I really do not think/believe I am better than you; I am much worse.

I might blame it on the constant adrenaline rush that I live with. It does make me hypersensitive in a few different ways. The cortisol comes with the adrenaline to make sure I do not waste any energy; thus, I deal with weight issues, which is another story.

It all began that fateful day when I was home with mom. Dad was where I do not know, the siblings were all at school. We lived on a cul-de-sac, with a nice steep driveway. I could sit on my tricycle at the top, and, after checking for traffic, lift my feet and roll out into the road. But this time my front wheel got stopped by a pebble . . . yet the rest of the trike and I kept going in a circular trajectory around the axle of the front wheel . . . I woke up sitting in a chair, in the kitchen with mom holding me in the sitting position with one hand and the phone receiver with the other, while talking to someone about my condition.

Ever since then, I have had some minimal level of a headache and neck pain, left side, at the base. So, I took up football instead of piano lessons.

In seventh grade I sat the bench but still was able to sustain injuries to my back, neck and head; in practice, obviously. In eighth and nineth grade I was a starter, running back, then wide receiver. Being a ball carrier meant I was regularly the target of eleven adversaries. Happily, my injuries were few but essentially re-injuries of the aforementioned.

Since football had become too dangerous to my central nervous system (CNS), I declined to play anymore and took up rock climbing and bouldering.

Then it was no longer the young men coming after me but the planet drawing me ever closer at 32 feet per second squared. The friend who enticed me to go bouldering, now does not recall the incident, so I can only rely on my vague memory as the details  of the fall. I was on a section at about fifty degrees, when I slipped. Vasque Cascade II are not ideal for this exercise. That angle was for about eight to ten feet, then the rest was a straight drop of about ten to fifteen feet. The landing was on shale on an angle, such that, although I was trying to roll, my feet slipped out from under me, causing me to land squarely on my right butt cheek, and roll off into the chaparral.

Figure 1 Spinal Disc Anatomy

Dr. Alice, using her magic hands and Directional Non-Force Technique (DNFT) chiropractic, knocked me back into place. But my body did not forget the trauma . . .

A couple of decades later, I lifted a very lightweight desk, helping move a son’s dorm room furniture into storage for the summer, I had a sharp stabbing pain at about the thoracic vertebrae eight-nine (T8/9). A couple of snap-crackle-pop chiropractor visits seemed to have alleviated the problem except that there was always this sensation of pressure in that location of my back.

A couple of years later, I was lifting a toilet bowl (using my legs and not my back) and as I turned my torso (but not my feet/legs) I heard and felt a pop. Suddenly the bowl was much heavier.

My PCP prescribed muscle relaxers, which are useless for spinal injuries, but he did not know that was the problem. As expected, the drugs did nothing, so he referred me to a orthopedic surgeon, who took an x-ray which showed the intervertebral disk was squished on the right side. He ordered an MRI and upon viewing that referred me to a neurosurgeon.

As neurosurgeon one looked at the MRI on his PC he reminded me of Mr. Spock, with the eyebrows raised and stern almost emotionless face, said, “thoracic spine injuries are the most painful spinal injuries.”. He said he could make that pain go away with an operation that had a mortality rate greater than zero, which I declined. Neurosurgeon two said he could do “minimal invasive” surgery for the issue. As he looked at the MRI he described the pain and issues I had been having with the injury. These would be those which would be seen in a condition now known as thoracic discogenic syndrome. He ordered a myelogram the results of which were not encouraging because of the nucleus pulposus having calcified to the point that it was basically a rock lying against my spine and T8/9 right side nerve root at about the 4:20 point (looking down my spine, facing forward).

I was prescribed Norco 5/325, which was alright except that it made me lethargic and cold. I was switched to Tramadol, which I found to make me excessively irritated, so I asked to be switched back to the opioid.

A search for a neurosurgeon three, who might have a better procedure to deal with my problem that had a mortality rate of zero, turned up one Hae Dong Jho, M.D., Ph.D. His procedure, thoracic transpedicular endoscopic discectomy, worked wonders with no real chance of a bad outcome much less death. However, he did indicate that he was only dealing with the major problem of the disk material that was no longer inside the anulus fibrosus. I do not recall his exact words, but my inference was that I would have continued pain but not as bad as it was.

And that is where I am now but it appears that the issues in my CNS have only gotten worse as the sensation of pain, though generally in the three to six level on a pain scale, occasionally rising to a nine. In addition, without mitigating chemicals, I have a sense of the need for a fight or flight constantly. Try to imagine the feeling you have when you are startled, (but not in a funny or happy way) leaving you shaken and emotionally irritated and ready for an altercation.  And it never ends.


In my research (I can say that; I’m a PhD), I have also found a paper (cannot find it now; arg) describing a project that analyzed autopsy reports by extracting the various conditions and ailments that the deceased had endured as well as the physical indicators of potential causes. One issue identified in about 30% of the reports, was that the individual had a thoracic spinal injury. But this was never identified in the patient’s medical records. Yet there were complaints that are the same or similar to those found in the thoracic discogenic syndrome.

My conclusion is that many have a thoracic spine injury but are being treated for other issues that might produce the same symptoms. Since the assumed cause is incorrect, the patient is likely to never have relief.

My favorite faux symptom is when I feel what would seem to be a heart attack or at least an angina. Yet all the electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG), over the years since I was in my late twenties, show no sign of any heart issues.

The most debilitating part is the sensation that every cell in my body is screaming and on fire. If I do not use some form of mitigation, it is quite trying.