I am one of those computer gypsies who wanders the country from end-to-end, working on contract projects that last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.

Thanks to the last three presidents, that is what a lot of computer people are reduced to doing in place of a regular, full-time profession.

Last November I was caught in a high-rise hotel fire in Dayton, Ohio, where I severely injured my neck and back trying to escape down nine flights of stairs, in the dark, to exit the burning building into an alleyway.

I was taken to the hospital, examined, pronounced sound, and turned back out onto the streets of Dayton at 3 a.m. on a cold November morning — shorts, bedroom slippers and a bloody T-shirt.

When I got back to Phoenix I found out that I had a severe concussion, multiple neck, back and leg injuries. After months of examinations with the neurologist and a neurosurgeon I was informed that my condition could not be repaired by surgery.

I could accept the fact that my physical condition would never be the same, but I could not accept the notion that I was going to have to live with the intense pain for the rest of my life.

So I did what I thought was the next logical step, I entered a very expensive “pain clinic” in Scottsdale, and started treatments. After several weeks of pain treatments I began to realize that chemicals were not the answer. My personal physician recommended a physical therapist right here in Ahwatukee Foothills, Dr. Keith Pritchette, DPT, ATC. I was surprised because I had gotten used to going to Scottsdale or Chandler for anything to do with my health.

After several weeks of exercising for a couple hours a day, three days a week, I can finally say that I am now essentially pain free. I am not cured, but I am up and about, I can drive again, and I can work. After almost a year of living in pain I can finally do things that I never thought I would do again.

“Pain is a funny thing, where you hurt is not necessarily where you are injured,” this was recently told to me by a very high-powered neurologist. Chemical treatments only bring short-term relief — at best, along with a lot of unwanted side effects. Today, I go through my day with two 220 mgs of OTC Naproxen Sodium (aka Aleve) and no other drugs of any kind.

The lessons I have learned are: I should have been exercising all along, I did not have to wait for a life threatening event to start exercising, and I should have looked in my own Ahwatukee neighborhood for health care.

 

• R.F. O’Meara is a 69-year-old computer consultant who has lived Ahwatukee Foothills since 1993. He has been in Arizona since 1979.

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