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Thursday, August 2, 2012



My blogging friend Scott, from “Flight Plan” at  is going through a neck issue similar to something I went through 28 years ago.  It is not fun having neck pain.  In my case it was a pinched nerve from a bulging disc injury in the C6 vertebrae.

I’d like to say that my neck pain came from an old football or wrestling injury in high school, but that was not the case. 

There is an old Hagy family tradition that on your birthday morning if you do three summersaults off your bed and say rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, you will have good luck for the year.  I think it was something my dad made up just to make us look stupid.  When I was 10, I cracked my neck on the bed frame during my third “rabbit.”

I woke up the next day with a stiff neck so bad I could not turn to my left at all.  Insurance in those days was for serious stuff only.  Mom said I would be just fine and slapped some Mentholatum on it.  I don’t know if they still sell Mentholatum, but in those days it was pretty much a cure all.

A bottle just like this was in my mom’s medicine chest for as long as I could remember.

Three days later my neck was fine.  Years later, after college, and after having periodic stiff necks, x-rays showed bone chips in my neck.

Around that time I was applying for entrance to the Air Force with aspirations to become a pilot in order to avoid being drafted into the army and slogging through the mud in Viet Nam.  The Air Force turned me down because on many levels I was imminently unqualified. 

When the draft came a calling, I brought x-rays of my bone chips and was declared 1-Y, a step above 4-F (unavailable for service.)  Maybe rabbit, rabbit, rabbit was lucky, it kept me out of Viet Nam, the worst mistake this country ever entered into.

Many years later luck caught up with me and my neck issue caused pain which radiated from my neck down my right arm.  I basically could not use the arm and my muscles were atrophying when I went to see a doctor.

The doctor prescribed heat and ibuprofen.  After several visits and lots of being poked around, I realized I was not describing the situation to the doctor properly.  On my third visit, when the doctor asked me how was the discomfort I snapped,  “Maybe I am not describing the issue to you correctly…I cannot use my right arm and my neck is not in discomfort…IT FUCKING HURTS LIKE FUCKING HELL!!”

The doctor said, “Well, why you didn’t say so before?” and set me up for some more serious testing…


I was sent to a neurosurgeon.  He scheduled me for a test called a myelogram.   This test puts a dye in your spinal fluid, flipped you up and down and took x-rays of the whole spinal cord. 

I worked one summer with someone who had undergone this procedure due to a back injury.  He said the doctor told him after the test DO NOT LIE DOWN FOR 24 HOURS!!  You must keep your head above your chest.  He did not listen and said he had a headache for three days that felt like there was a hot poker driven through his head.

I took the test and afterwards did not move my head for 24 hours.  I was scared shitless.  This test is notorious for its discomfort and the pain afterward if you forgot and moved your head.  There are a number of rare but serious complications associated with the test.  Most people dread the myelogram test.

Two days after my test I was informed that the pictures did not come out clearly and I would have to take the test again in a week. 

I went in for my second test, was prepped, and wheeled in a waiting room on a gurney flat on my back.  While there a lady was wheeled in besides me.  She looked over at me and asked, “Are you in for a myelogram?”


“I’m really scared, I hear the test is very painful and the after effects even worse.”

“Don’t worry, it’s not too bad, I took one last week.  Just don’t lie down afterwards.”

“Last week?” They started to wheel me away.

“Yeah, apparently it didn’t come out right.”

“What!! They might have to do it TWICE?

 As they led me away she was screaming hysterically. 

I probably shouldn’t have said anything.

The test showed I needed a Laminectomy.  They took a piece of bone from my hip and fused it to my C6 vertebrae.  Before the operation I asked the doctor, “Would I be able to break 90 in golf after the operation?”

“Have you broken 90 before?”


“Then you probably still won’t break 90.”

The operation was a success.  It was scary as there was a possibility of paralysis if the surgeon sneezed at the wrong time.  Twenty-eight years later I have had no pain, my arm is as strong as ever, my mobility is unimpeded and I still have not broken ninety in golf.

Good luck Scott!! 


  1. Thanks for the heads up Cranky. In my case it's probably a karma thing...I've been a pain in the neck to others for so long it was probably inevitable that it bite me in the neck (ass?) too some day. So far my doc hasn't mentioned anything as involved as you described, and I'd just as soon keep it that way. Mine is a C6 issue too, and it's my left arm. Could be worse as I'm right handed.

  2. I think there have been some improvements in medical treatment over the last 28 years. THey'll fix it!

  3. Bahahha...ignore Cranky L&S, you'll be fine. There's a reason Cranky is no longer allowed into hospitals!

  4. Okay it is so weird that you posted this post today. I have some kind of pinched nerve that has the pain radiating down my left arm, and I feel the pinch just below the neck and a little below my left shoulder. It's been 5 days now and no relief. I've been icing it, taking ibuprofen. Nothing helps. I'm avoiding going to the doctor because our co-pay sucks. Some have suggested I see a chiropractor. The pain isn't in my neck, but below. So I guess it's not a bulging disk. But it's a constant pain, and I just don't want to clean my house. That's the excuse I'm using, anyway.

  5. Katrina...that sounds EXACTLY like what I have. I've taken Rx inflammatory for 2 days now and it feels a bit better already.

  6. Cranky

    Another similarity between you and I...
    I am also a myelogram victim...I had mine after a car crash when I was 17...Thankfully I did not get tipped upside down - my consultant opted instead to take the precarious route of injecting the fluid into my spinal column at the brain stem.....He said it would mean the procedure would not take as long, although there was a considerably high risk that they would miss aim, or I would move during the procedure and the needle would penetrate my brain stem and that would be it for me!

    Thankfully, he did not slip and I did not move, and was kept in a position that meant I could witness the whole procedure on the x-ray monitor thing they used....

    Unlike you though my injury was to the C7 not the C6, which I had to have replaced as it was cutting through my spinal cord and slowly but surely making me quadriplegic...Thankfully they operated on me only 3 days later to replace the disc, although it was over 18 months later that the nerves started to show signs of regrowth and the tingling down my right side went away...

    I have always said that if it wasn't for Donald Cambell, my neurosurgeon, I would not be the person I am today, nor have my 3 wonderful children, because I would have been quadriplegic within 3 months of the myelogram.

    Now I just beep lots when I go through x-ray at

  7. Small world. I have a cadaver bone at C4. Up there the stenosis affects the foot and leg. The neurosurgeon located mine first by testing, then an MRI, then an x-ray at the specific place. This was all back in 2003.

  8. Wow! I have never had to have that procedure....and I hope to keep some distance from it for as long as possible.

  9. My mom had many of these procedures done and they were awful.

  10. I hope that Scott is able to achieve a similar cure. A pain in the neck can be a dreadful thing.

  11. How are you now? Even if it was a success, I still believe that you have to keep up with the exercise. May I suggest that you try chiropractic care? It’ll help improve the overall condition of your body.

    -Rhonda Munoz


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