Ben Crowder / Blog

Blog: #spondylolisthesis

New artwork: Behold My Beloved Son. Basically a Christ Visits the Nephites but with a different title, one actually from the scriptures.

I painted this in Procreate, and goodness, it messed up my back a bit. (Which is unfortunate because I really like the woodcut-style look on the white triangle. I may still do occasional pieces this way, when there’s not a billion little circles like I have here.) It’s frustrating when my spondylolisthesis keeps me from making art the way I want to. At some point I’ll probably try to figure out a way to do this style with code. (Speaking of which, I generated the circles here with a little bit of JavaScript. It was fun doing a piece that’s a little more three-dimensional.)

Behold My Beloved Son

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Not much going on here lately because I’ve had a fairly bad flareup of back pain since early Thanksgiving week.

(This is from my grade 2 spondylolisthesis at L5-S1, which I’ve had for nineish years now. Every once in a while I move wrong and get a flareup. The more flared up it is, the more back pain — mostly lower but often upper too — and the harder it gets to walk. When it’s really bad I’m hobbling around like a ninety year old.)

Lots of lying in bed on a heating pad trying to recover and to avoid flaring things up further. Lots of reading, but not much else outside of work. I’ve got a handful of projects in progress, though, that I’m hoping to get to a presentable state before long.


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Quick update on projects, or rather the general lack thereof these past few months.

Since messing up my back again in late February, I’ve seen a mild level of recovery, but I’m still far from where I used to be (which itself was far, far from normal, those good old days before I slipped on some ice and got spondylolisthesis). Some of the things I used to do (like art) now cause enough pain, whether immediate or delayed, that I have to avoid them.

I’ve also been dealing with some out-of-the-blue episodes of vertigo. So much fun, let me tell you. The worst seems to be over, but every time I turn my head things still get a little woozy for a couple seconds.

On top of my lovely collection of physical ailments, I’ve also been feeling mentally drained and exhausted after work each day. Not sure if it’s a side effect of the back and neck pain or if it’s 2020 finally catching up to me or if it’s the new job. (If it’s the job: my company just got acquired, so I’m effectively starting yet another new job. Exciting. I’ll write more about it soon.)

With all of that, I’ve effectively been taking a forced mini sabbatical from project work. Thus the prolonged silences.

The break has certainly been restful — lots of reading — but I do want to find a way forward with making things, even though it’s fairly unclear what that will mean. Whether I’ll ever get my back back to where it was. Whether the vertigo is a new long-term companion. Whether I’ll be able to keep doing the same types of projects. (Writing and programming are still fine, physically, so I expect more of both. Not sure about the rest.) Whether this begins the inevitable slowing down in life and what then follows. (Hopefully not yet!)

A quick endnote lest my somewhat bloodless portrayal of the situation keep humanity from seeping in (and to mix metaphors post-haste, I’m not casting my net to catch any pity here, just documenting what this experience is like in the hope that maybe somehow it’ll help someone someday): there have of course been many moments of frustration and anguish and discouragement. It’s devastating not being able to help out nearly as much at home. Not being able to roughhouse with my kids. A lot of time lying on my back trying to relieve the pain. (And a corresponding bump in the number of accidental naps. C’est la vie.)

The situation isn’t ideal, but situations rarely are. I’ll still keep trying to claw my way back up to better health, of course, but if this is my lot going forward, so be it. There’s not much use in pining after what’s unattainable. I’ve adjusted, and I’ll continue to adjust as necessary, and I’ll be fine.

Anyway, that’s the far too long explanation of why I’ve been mostly derelict in posting work here these past few months.


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