My Aching Back

The bane of my existence for the last two years, my back first caused me problems while being hunched over a keyboard for months on end finishing my dissertation. So in a sense my ruined skeletal structure is a fond memory of the closeted scriptorious torture I saw fit to persevere through. Call it a badge of honor. I think I would have preferred a puppy. Or a cake.

Anyway, the old badge is digging into my side real bad these days. After my degree I followed a path of rigorous exercise and regime that slowly brought me back to some semblance of health (and, moreover, mobility). There’s been some ups and downs, but recently I was OK. Last fall I saw a specialist (who agreed with my diagnosis of “sciatica”) and was scheduled for an MRI, but moved out to BC, and for the most part improved considerably on my own. Earlier this summer was a high point, when I was riding the bike daily and able to hike for hours without much discomfort. Then the teaching gig started in mid-July, and my bike fell apart, and before I replaced it I did some jogging, which didn’t feel so great. But again I was feeling better just recently since I got the new bike.

On Friday, after hitting just two golf balls, I wrenched my back so bad I couldn’t stand up. I’d been to the driving range a few times earlier in the summer and was fine, so this was a complete surprise.

Suddenly I’m in emergency at 11:00 PM, waiting about five hours just to see a doctor. I felt like I did two winters ago in Montreal, when I’d submitted the thesis but hadn’t defended, and slipped on the ice in front of f-ing Future Shop on boxing day. It was a holly, jolly Christmas, let me tell you.

But somehow it’s worse now, with my time outdoors so precious to me, and the fall encroaching…

I suppose I should have done more than just get an x-ray and follow my own rehab, but everything was going fairly well. Now, sadly, I believe it’s time to experiment, since waiting for the hospital to call me back for my CT scan so they can tell me to “go see someone at a clinic” isn’t happening. As much as I’m a devoted skeptic, I’m thinking it’s time to see a chiropractor, this in spite of the fact that I know their dubious lineage (heck, I even wrote about it…). Whatever. They have survived the test of time, so maybe there’s something to it…Hey, the philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, who was skeptical of basically everything, saw considerable merit in alternative medicine. I think he consulted alternative healers because he had some pretty major back problems — brought on by being shot a few times in the war. So there you go — it could be worse.

The experience of being in a hospital again reminded me why I’m particular about staying healthy — the modern medical system is so profoundly disturbing to someone who studies the philosophical meanings of health that it’s hard to have anything to do with it. Yet there is this strange rational conceit that makes me equally dubious of the alternative approach…But now, I may take the leap.

I tell ya, being laid up really sucks. I don’t do incapacitated well.

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23 Responses to “My Aching Back”

  1. uberfrau Says:

    It’s tough getting older. Maybe you can rub some ben gay on your back, and get one of those craftmatic adjustable beds.

    Watch out for you hips.

  2. The Necromancer Says:

    You know, I should be scandalized by your callous disregard for my well being, but I can’t get past the brilliance that is your “craftmatic adjustable bed” line. Uberfrau, you’ve turned snarky into an art form. I can only be proud to have provided an appropriate venue…

  3. lovesthewind Says:

    I had a great career, cut short by an attack that crushed my neck vertebrae and put me on disability. On disability, I can’t afford adequate medical care. So I was forced to find ways to deal with the pain and nerve and muscle damage, by alternative means.

    No, I can no longer rollerblade 8 miles a night, or hike 15 miles at 13,000 feet in one stretch. But for as much fun of yoga as I used to make, the dvd Yoga for Inflexible People has offered some relief. Better than none.

    I hear ya.

  4. The Necromancer Says:

    Rough. I’m hearing more and more stories about back pain from people today — it’s as if there’s a general level of suffering that most people don’t talk about. Also, from the point of view of comparative anatomy (thank you, Georges Cuvier) we’re obviously pretty exceptional as mammals who are bipeds…Evolutionarily speaking, we may be an early model.

  5. max Says:

    Well the cycling helps because it strengthens your stomach, [everything back relies on the stomach muscles which are what the whole body balance is centered around] and the jogging does not because it pounds the body and does nothing for the stomach. Also if you are going to go out and start swinging your body about with a weak back going in [you know this for sure and just were not doing it] you have to stretch first.

    Do half crunches and keep riding that bike. That should help a lot. And sympathies.

  6. The Necromancer Says:

    Good advice. All stuff I will surely do once the pain subsides…

  7. lovesthewind Says:

    The purpose of the yoga dvd is to help the pain go away. It is written specifically for people with injuries and pain.

  8. max Says:

    You could also try Pilates. Pilates was designed for working with people with injuries and is the only reason I am ambulatory sans pain or surgery. There are a lot of Pilates dvds and also short sessions viewable on videojug.com including one I think on back strengthening. I would really concentrate on abs though, abs are what will take the pressure off the back.

  9. The Necromancer Says:

    OK…I’ve got yoga and pilates to try. Eventually. My current exercise regime is still just getting off the sofa. Will try light stretching today…Maybe some easy crunches.

  10. max Says:

    One good way to do this is to soak in a hot tub and then just do some real light back extension stetches in the tub. The hot water loosens up the muscles and lightens the pain load. Also if you are coming off an injury you can start by just soaking in the tub, then doing some on the back clasp your knees to your chest light pulls which elongate the back but do not put a lot of pressure on it or force gravity compensation which is what tends to make tight muscles go snap without warning.

    Um. Welcome to Max’s rehabilitation strategies for the maimed and injured. I am talking too much. [smile]

  11. The Necromancer Says:

    Not at all…Rehabilitation strategies are good. :)

  12. lovesthewind Says:

    Yeah, I’ve also got Pilates for Inflexible People. Great idea, making those for people who can’t just fold in half or backward to the floor :-)

    Good luck!

  13. max Says:

    LovesWind, you do yoga right? What is the kid’s version of the plow? That is sort of curling and hugging yourself and elongates the back too right? I am so not trained in yoga but from what little I do know that was a good gentle back stretch I think?

  14. The Necromancer Says:

    This is starting to sound like a contortionist’s convention. ;)

    I think I’ll just lie on the floor for a little while now…

  15. lovesthewind Says:

    Hey Max! I’m sorry, I’m pretty much a novice. The Plow is a bit beyond me since I had surgery on 5 of 7 neck vertebrae. But I like Yoga Journal, and I found them online too. They have a great modification to The Plow:

    “Most beginning students can’t comfortably rest their feet on the floor (nor is it advisable for the neck). But you can still practice this pose with an appropriate prop. Brace the back of a metal folding chair against a wall (if you like, cover the seat with a folded sticky mat), and set one long edge of your support a foot or so away from the front edge of the seat. The exact distance between the chair and support will depend on your height (taller students will be farther away, shorter students closer). Lie down on the support with your head on the floor between the blanket support and the chair. Roll up with an exhalation, rest your feet on the seat (and check to see that you are neither too close nor too far from the chair), then lift into Salamba Sarvangasana first before moving into Halasana.”

    The For Inflexible People dvds that I use incorporate really gentle poses, but even that leaves one feeling less pain and really good. Have to say, that dvd has really helped me a lot, and offers many modifications.

    Good luck! And Necromancer, they have some lying on the floor poses ;-)

  16. lovesthewind Says:

    Hey, just looked around on their online site and found this for back pain, too. Hope something helps :-)

    http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/therapeutic_focus/t_back_pain

  17. anon Says:

    Wow, this back stuff really hit a nerve (so to speak)…

  18. The Necromancer Says:

    There’s always gotta be a pinchline. Um, I mean punchline.

  19. Stiletto Says:

    Necro, let me just shoot from the hip and tell you that marijuana is the way to go.

  20. The Necromancer Says:

    That’s chronic…This is acute. ;)

  21. Stiletto Says:

    Acute symptoms or acute reply? lol

  22. “Old School” « The Necromancer Says:

    [...] So I have this back problem. Today, I (finally) had a appointment with a “back specialist”. Since my CT scan [...]

  23. Lost… « The Necromancer Says:

    [...] least my back is feeling a little [...]

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