Chronically Challenged


In medical terms a “chronic disease” is long-lasting or recurrent (from three months to life). A “chronic condition” is a persistent and lasting condition. I may end up with one of each. To my disease—cancer—I may be adding a condition—back pain.

It’s been almost three months since my accident and I’m still sore (lower back) and somewhat limited in mobility (upper back). I hope to improve with time and exercise but spines can be fickle things. I’m certainly thankful for the progress I have made since getting out of my shell.

“Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on low back pain,” so says the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States — only headache is more common.”

I’m far from alone when it comes to being chronically challenged. According to the 2004 study, Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, “Nearly one in two Americans has a chronic medical condition of one kind or another. However, most of these people are not actually disabled, as their medical conditions do not impair normal activities … The most common chronic conditions are high blood pressure, arthritis, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and high cholesterol.”

Oh-oh. Throw high cholesterol in there and I have three chronics and counting. Excuse me; I have to go lie down now.

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