Saturday, September 10, 2005

Fifteen Days

Fourteen days ago, we had been about to go on a ride. We changed and hopped on our bikes, and then I realized that we weren't going anywhere because I had a flat tire. So it was that fifteen days ago, I lifted the bike into the back of our vehicle to take it to the bike shop to get them to fix the thing. I got the bike into the car fine, but when I was lifting it out to wheel it into the shop, I got into a very awkward position, and my back muscles suddenly and alarmingly spasmed.

Once upon a time, I used to have this sort of thing happen fairly frequently, but I hadn't sprained my lower back for many years. About ten years ago, I did have a pretty, darn, major back attack, but that had to do with bulging discs, not (not primarily, at least) muscle spasms. Earlier this summer, I had some spasms in the upper back, but this has been the first lower back spasm episode for a long time.

It used to be that I could rest for a few days, generally three, and then I would be able to ease back into normal activities. Perhaps it is because I am older, but my back is now taking a heckuva long time to get over it. As a result, I have been unable to do much to help in the move. Although the family might differ, I think that I have borne it with reasonably good grace, but yesterday I began to reach the end of my tether.

I simply wanted to sort my den a bit: not do much, but get things ordered or re-ordered in drawers and on shelves. That involves bending forward, and that is the hardest thing for me right about now; donning and removing socks or shoes, for example, is a struggle beyond measure. Back in the den: I tried a dealing with a few items, with much concomitant groaning and consternation. I then sat and looked forlornly around me trying to determine what to do and how I could possibly do it.

Fortunately, Cuppa sprang to the rescue. She quickly took things in hand and had the place sorted in no time flat. Not only is she healthy, but she is very good at organizing. Where I would tend, even when healthy, to hold onto something and look about me in stupefaction and bewilderment before putting it down and repeating the procedure with the next item, in her gifted way, she seems to instantly know what to do with every single item.

It was very wonderful of her, and I am deeply appreciative, but after two weeks of bearing this little affliction with at least a modicum of aplomb, I seemed to have run out of grace. I was not happy with my continued incapacitation. There comes a point when one simply wants to do one's share and get on with it. But, as the old saying goes, if wishes were horses then people would ride. Except in my case I would lift and unpack a box or two before going for a pedal.

Now, I'm no longer sure if I will ride again this year, or even walk much (as defined by going out for some exercise as opposed to ambulating haltingly about the premises) . Yesterday morning, I awoke early and spied an interesting fog when I looked out the window. "Photo op," said I to me. But I realized that I would have trouble walking to a suitable venue for pictures, and I didn't wish to try to drive anywhere in the fog, so I rolled over and grabbed a few more zzz's.

Today, I am once more resigned to my condition with reasonably good grace. For one thing, I can help at least a little by preparing some simple meals. I am able to manage that much at least. For another, I'm reasonable certain that my old back will eventually come round. For a third thing, this is not a horrendous affliction in the grand scheme of things. I could be homeless and destitute in Louisiana, or I could be afflicted with a very serious ailment, but, in reality, I'm safe and relatively comfortable. I could be confined to the floor unable to stand or sit for more than a few minutes without great pain shooting down my leg as was the case ten years ago, but I can sit (especially) or stand (for a while) in reasonable comfort. It's more the changing of positions and bending and stooping that are problematic. Beyond that, I am blessed with an understanding spouse and wonderful children who have truly gone the extra mile.

So, I am am trying to count blessings rather than wallowing in self pity. Being human (barely, some would say), I tend to forget myself by times, but I keep trying hard to remember. Yes, I keep trying. It's the human thing to do: to permit ourselves to get down a bit but then remember to get up and press onward and ever upward.



Iona said...

Yes, counting blessings rather than wallowing in self pity, like you said, is a very good thing. Positive attitude helps a lot!

I can understand how you feel and that you want to pitch in and do your part. And I do hope you feel better soon. But I guess patience is a good thing too in this case. Well, look at it this way. Now you have an excuse for Blogging more and catching up on other people's blogs!

Take care!

Dale said...

Hold on tight, AC. This too will pass. I'm so sorry you hurt. And I know about back pain, believe me.

Lisa said...

You sort the same way I do!

Hope you're feeling better soon.

Bonita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg said...

AC, if I may, I'd like to offer my sympathies and some experiences that have helped me.

I put my back into spasm once or twice a year. It can last anywhere from 24 hours to a week. I do physical work for a living, so it affects my income when it happens. At 55, I notice it is happenimg more often, from the oddest little movements.

I have found two things that help. One is healthy, the other is probably not.

Sit ups is the best preventive for back problems I have ever found. The muscles in the abdomen support the lower back and help prevent injury. When your back is better, see if you can get in this habit. For years I would do 100 to 150 sit ups every day, and had very little discomfort in my back. Alas, I have gotten out of the habit, and am suffering the consequences.

Years ago, I had a doctor who prescribed Vicodin for the back spasms. I wa amazed at the results. He gave me a prescrition for about 10 tablets. At the first sign of a twinge in my back, I'd take a pill and go to bed. Usually, the next morning I felt fine, or close to it. Only in the most severe conditions, would the problem continue. I am not a drug abuser, and never took more than one tablet. About 5 years ago, I broke my collar bone in 3 places on the mountain bike. The ER doctor gave me a scrip for 50 Vicodin. I still have some left, 5 years later. But they have kept me from back agony since then.

Obviously, the exercise is better for you than taking pills. But if you are injured, it can help you get through it.

Has it ever seemed to you that these injuries occur most often during times of stress? This is something I have given much thought to.

Good luck. Hope you heal soon.

I'm jealous of the fact that you are settling into your new digs. We are in a rental, still having the move in date on our new house moved back.

Gina said...

She of the bad back is going to have to agree with Greg on the sit-ups and the medication. Although what works for me is a muscle relaxer, not a pain reliever. Although the pain reliever can be helpful, don't get me wrong.

Out, out, damned spasms!

Have you tried ice?

Bonita said...

Well, I'll try again, without grammatical errors, if that is possible: I don't know your medical history, but, if your symptoms continue, see your doctor. He could refer you to physical therapy, which could prevent further difficulty - worked for me. Take care, and keep up your positive attitude.

Anvilcloud said...

Thanks for the sympathy and the suggestions folks. I think I'm doing a little better today (he said with crossed fingers).

Christi said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you're still feeling bad. I can't even stand it when I'm sick for a couple of days and not able to get up and run around!

Lora said...

I've been out of commission with back pain before, but not that long. I can understand that you feel like you are going out of your head.

Since this seems to be a reaccuring problem, I must ask have you goen to see a chiropractor or better yet a physical therapist? You pointed out the age factor and it's quite possible that you may not be keeping the muscle town in you back as well as you once did. A little targeted back and abdominal exercise really makes all the difference.

Feel better soon, and don't lose hope about more bike rides. If nothing else you can plan a holiday over the winter with warmer climes and good riding trails.

Chelsea said...

I think the hardest thing about being incapacitated is not being in control.

Linda said...

I understand. Your description of the last couple of weeks could have been written by me. I have found that physiotherapy is the only thing that will get me back to my old self. I have tried the pills, chiropractic, and various other therapies but my physiotherapist is MY healer.