In early March, I was happily touring around southern India with my hubby when I noticed my lower back was sore. Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought – the bumpy roads, the beds – it makes sense. That evening I headed for a massage, hoping to find relief. But when I, grimacing, crawled onto the massage bed, my masseur promptly advised me to see a doctor.
And so started the journey – the journey into backpain. The last few days in India were tinged with, at best, mild discomfort, and at worst, serious pain that emanated in my lower back and shot down to the toes of both feet. I greedily accepted all pills, sprays and creams from my fellow tour-mates… none of which really took the edge off. Luckily I could still get around, gritting my teeth through long hours of jolting bus rides, tentatively wandering the streets to find dinner, and only really feeling any real relief when I lay down at the end of the day.
Rest, prescribed the doctor upon my return, and when the pain didn’t improve, I was off to the back specialist for an MRI which diagnosed my problem – bulging discs. Not caused, as I had assumed, by a particular event or thing I had necessarily done, but more likely simply from a lifetime of substandard posture and prolonged periods of sitting. Oh the shame of it – to have the fact that I was getting old shoved so belligerently into my face!
Daily infusions for a week were followed by two injections directly into my spine… oh what a laugh that was! But finally… there was some relief, and I turned the corner directly away from the operation route.
The first few weeks were extremely trying, not only from the physical pain, but also the worry that I wouldn’t improve, and my inability to undertake any physical activity apart from slow walking. Still, I was lucky in many ways – I was always able to get out of bed each morning, and a back operation wasn’t necessary. I could work from home when I couldn’t manage the drive or the long days, and although the first standing desk was a simple box on top of the dining room table, I now have a standing desk both in my room and at work.
It’s July now, and I’m swimming as much as possible, attempting small hikes and actually running an incredible 25 minute route twice a week. My physio is slamming me with exercises to strengthen everything not only back to what it was, but hopefully to better than what it was. It still gets me down sometimes, not being able to join friends for a long hike, or attempt those roller coaster rides we saw in Helsinki! My husband has been my support and my slave – carrying the washing to the clothes line so I could hang it – mowing the lawn – weeding the garden – cleaning the house – absolutely everything that requires bending down is still a struggle for me – for my back and my poor knees!
But I know it’s getting better – I had a win the day I managed to put socks on myself – another win when I could get into the car pain-free – another win when I went a few days in a row without bursting into self-pitying tears. It’s still there – I feel it mostly when I twist the wrong way or when I get overexcited with my physio exercises. It lingers constantly, a small bruised point on my back that means I have to watch absolutely everything I do – when I sit down on the toilet – when I get into the car – sitting up straight at dinner, which makes me feel like a bit of a douche! Like I should be wearing a ball gown and speaking Queen’s English! But things are definitely getting smoother, things are improving.
I have always been very active, but I have always neglected stretching and back exercises, and despite dancing as a youngster I didn’t pay much attention to my posture. No more! I have learnt my lesson. I will, over time, spend more time sitting down, but at least I will be aware of it. Aware of where things can go if I get lazy. So, my advice, look after your back peoples… it really can stop everything in its tracks. And to anyone dealing with back pain out there… I’m so sorry! I feel your pain and I hope you find relief soon.
And for now it’s baby steps to a complete recovery – next goal – painting my toenails 🙂
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