This is the L5-S1 vertebral disc at the base of the human back. It's the first foundation disc upon which the spine builds itself upright. It sits between the fifth lumbar vertebrae (L5) and the first sacral vertebrae (S1) providing cushioning, support and shock absorption for the lower back and sacrum.
Except mine isn't doing its job anymore.
The MRI scan result showed that my disc is in prominent degeneration. It is injured. It is in deep crisis. It is bulging over a wide area and it has also herniated, which means that the soft content of my disc is spilling out of its casing into the sensitive spinal cord.
This disc matter is compressing and trapping the S1 nerve pathway, the S2 nerve pathway and the L5 nerve pathway. Cue excruciating sciatica down my buttock and leg and referred pain into my back, hip and groin. As it makes contact my body reacts with a heavy-handed defence mechanism, firing up intense inflammation at the site in reaction to the unidentifiable proteins which are now outside of the disc instead of within it.
Not only is the disc damaged, but the surfaces (end plates) of the vertebrae above and below have suffered extensive and chronic changes, which means more damage.
With this knowledge, everything changes. Although I have resisted this for months, if not years, I am now facing a new reality, unfamiliar, uncertain, terrifying.
Maybe even liberating.