Saturday, August 27, 2011


I don't have a bad back, it's just misbehaving.  Since I've been Tweeting about it all day I may as well tell the whole story.

Almost two weeks ago I was relaxing on the sofa, leaning back against a pillow, watching TV.  Suddenly, for no apparent reason, my entire lower back went into spasm.  Every muscle spontaneously curled up into an angry, inflamed fist.  I sat there for a minute, dumbstruck by pain, thinking this is probably just some weird tic that will shortly pass.  NOPE!  No such luck.

For a couple of days I was in obvious pain.  I winced and sucked air through my teeth every time I had to get up out of a chair.  Someone on my staff felt so sorry for me that she loaned me a heating pad to keep me comfortable at my desk.  (Although I never did use it, because I couldn't think of a way of sticking the damn thing to my back where it was so sorely needed.)

I took it easy, slept with a pillow under my knees, and in a few days I was feeling much better.  As soon as I felt halfway normal I went back to my morning yoga routine and BAM! Back to square one.  Absolute agony.  The second time, I waited a full week before going back to the yoga.  I was sure I was all fixed up.  And BAM!  I triggered it again.

That was yesterday morning.  All day long, I was in constant pain and felt incredibly frustrated.  There is no over-the-counter pill that I can take for pain and inflammation; every NSAID on the list shreds my stomach.  My other remedies (homeopathic tablets, topical cream "for lumbago", my bed) were at home.  At least I had a massage appointment already scheduled for that evening.  Except that my RMT, skilled as she is, could not cure my pain.  Not even close.

It was a disheartening 24 hours.  Every little twitch, even while lying in bed, triggered the spasms.  Fortunately I sleep like the dead, so I didn't wake myself much by moving around.  This morning, the pain was the same as it was last night.  I had forgotten how draining chronic pain is on the body and soul.  I was starting to feel a little crazy.

After a day of being out and about, I'm feeling a lot better.  My back, like a cranky baby, wants to be walked all the time.  It doesn't like to be put down.  It seizes up when it's not mobile.  And obviously I can't do my morning workout for a long time, just to be sure I don't re-trigger the spasm.  I'm thinking I'll wait at least one month.  It's going to drive me crazy to skip my stretches, but I can't risk doing this to myself again.

I've been doing yoga just about every morning for the past 15 years.  I don't feel ready to face my day until I've done my stretches.  My favourite one is the most dangerous in my current condition.  That's the plough.  It's always such a relief to bust that one out and drain all the tension from my back and shoulders.

The plough is the pose that just about killed me yesterday morning.  I knew as soon as I threw my feet over my head that I had made a terrible mistake, with immediate and severe consequences, but by then it was too late.  By the time I got myself flat on the mat, my back was freaking.

So the question remains, WTF is wrong with my back?! My cranky, whiny, demanding back.  Is it not good enough that I've done yoga every day since I was 23?  And that I lift hand weights every other day for good measure?  WAS THAT NOT UP TO YOUR STANDARD, BACK?  WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!  I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO GIVE!!!

So.  Yup.  I think I'll live.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do in the mornings without my body-mind quality time.  Maybe a little Tai Chi?  I'll let you know.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Back pain sucks! Hope you find some relief.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: You know what works best? Towels. I have a small towel rolled into a lumbar support to use at home and in the car. Like they say on South Park "Don't forget to bring a towel!"

Jenski said...

I LOVE the plough and also when you then put your knees on the ground in plough. Child pose help at all? I also like rag doll to release my back. If heat helps at all, those thermacare heat pads are amazing.

LL Cool Joe said...

Proving the point that exercise is bad for you! :D

Joking, well I hope so anyway, as I lift weights too. None of this yoga stuff though.

My mother has always suffered with a bad back so I know how painful and stressful it can be. I hope it improves very soon!

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: Thermacare huh? I've never tried them. Thanks for the tip! I'm going to pick some up today.

LL Cool Joe: Thanks! I'm already feeling quite a lot better this morning. My movement is still restricted, but at least it's not a constant pain today. Progress!

Pixiebaby said...

I'm sorry to hear that you've been hurting so much. I have an exercise for you to try that might sound weird but it has helped me. Since you already do yoga it might not sound so odd to you. Sit or lie down whichever is less painful to you, and go into a meditative state using rhythmic breathing. Once completely relaxed picture a brilliant white light above your head. Draw it into your body with an inhalation and draw it into the painful area. Picture the light swirling through the pain area, feel the warmth and comfort of it healing your pain. On exhale release the light from the area down through your feet into the ground, taking with it the pain. Continue this for as long as you feel you need to. When you feel as though it's enough, see the light surrounding your entire body like a cocoon, relax a few more moments and gently resume your day. Hope it helps. :)

DarcKnyt said...

Hey, Spark, as someone with a lousy back (which I've blogged about, and a danged lousy epiglottis too, which I've also blogged about), I can completely commiserate with your agony. There were days I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without my back being in pain.

But I really do feel bad about your exercise suffering because of it. Just as a thought, if you eliminate the plow (plough) pose, will that be okay? Or is there an alternative which doesn't strain the long muscle in your back? which might be the problem you're having?

Not a doctor or anything, so ignore me if I'm sounding/being ignorant.

I'll say a prayer for ya. I know that works. ;)

Jameil said...

Behave, back!! BEHAVE!!! Or else!!

Sparkling Red said...

Pixiebaby: That sounds like a neat exercise in visualization. I'll give it a try. Thanks for the tip. I have been using a different type of meditation, which is somewhat helpful in the case of localized pain. I sit quietly and make a conscious effort to re-focus my attention from my pain to a part of my body that is perfectly relaxed and comfortable. Then I take stock of the fact that more than 90% of my body is completely fine, and that awareness seems to edge out the pain and bring that 90% of goodness into the foreground.

DarcKnyt: Yes, I remember - in fact I thought of you as I was writing this post! I think I can probably do some simple exercises like shallow knee bends and arm stretches, so long as I keep my back straight. Even so I'm going to be very careful, because even such exercises that don't obviously require much use of the spine, like punching forward holding hand weights, engage some of the muscles that can trigger the pain. So to be on the safe side I'm going to really take it easy. And prayers always help! Thanks!

Jameil: You tell it! :-)

Lynn said...

Oh my goodness - that's terrible. And the worst part is that you can't do your yoga.

I tried Tai Chi once - it is a bit complicated. I never tried to do it beyond the initial moves, which I did learn in one of those adult education classes.

I hope you overcome this quickly!

Granny Annie said...

Bless your heart.

DarcsFalcon said...

Beat that back into submission! Show it who's boss!

Ha! Seriously, I know what that feels like and you have my absolute sympathy! Sciatica is bad too, and I had severe and chronic tailbone problems for a few years. I so feel your pain! *hugs*

Have you heard of T-Tapp? She (Teresa) started some of her program based on her own back problems, as a way to alleviate the pain. Just a thought if you can't do the yoga anymore - maybe this could replace it for a while. :)

Hope you feel better soon!