Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Herniated L5/S1

After our trip to Stockholm and the North Arctic a recurring disc problem paid me an unwelcome visit.
The -20c temperatures mixed with constantly being 'Girls on the go'  freaked out my discs/ back muscles to such an extent that when we returned back to Dublin, my muscles called SIPTU, downed tools and stopped working.

Not only did my discs call a strike, they were irritated to such an alarming state, my hips got involved and kindly sent shockwaves of sharp, angry agony with every move, to the point where I couldn't  move without tearing up.
It's a recurring problem I've had since my teenage years.
When I was a teenager my weekends were spent playing hockey, netball, football, athletics. Sometimes I'd have 4 matches in 2 days. It was a lot.
If I were a yank I'd have been a teenage Jock.
As a girl in Yorkshire, I was 'ouse captain.

One Saturday afternoon during a hockey game for Harrogate Ladies (la di da), I took a fall and couldn't get back up.
I couldn't move for weeks until gradually everything relaxed, the pain disappeared and I continued as normal.
This happened several times again in my life.
From hospital visits, consultations with specialists and MRI scans I have prolapsed herniated discs L4 and L5 and disc fragmentation,. Lots of people having similar and it causes them no problems at all, but I have to watch I don't stress them out, or I end up unable to move.
Easier said than done.
In my early twenties I worked in America for a while as a nanny. One weekend helping a friend move house, I ended up lifting lots of boxes. I could feel my discs tightening, I knew I shouldn't keep lifting, but I kept on lifting, because I'm clever like that.
I couldn't move for a month afterwards and ended up missing most of a pre booked and prepaid trip across America.
I remember clearly going down to the local CVS (Boots) to get painkillers. I was crying non stop, the woman in CVS told me to take 1 tablet every 4 hours then silently mouthed at me to take 4 every 2 hours and to get to a dr the next day (think it was a Sunday).
By the time I got back to where I was living I was in so much pain I couldn't manage the steps to the front door, the elderly woman next door saw me and came over to help me into the house.

Whilst we're going down memory lane, here's another:
I used to organise a women's 5-a-side football session every Tuesday evening in UCD. It was really popular with about 30 women turning up each session. I loved it. We got a team together, called ourselves the Double D's (you can work out why), got some chants sorted for our matches and entered some league competitions, it was great.
One evening during training, I went in for a hard tackle, twisted my back and couldn't move for months. Months. Think I ws off work for 8 weeks.
That was around 2003, I haven't been able to kick a ball since.
And I had a really, really strong kick.

Sometimes I aggravate my discs to a point where I'm out for a few days, sometimes weeks, other times months.
This time, I've not been able to move without pain for 7-8 weeks, it's been the longest episode in a good few years and it's really thrown me.

Luckily, after years of these episodes, I've learnt that what helps me is rest.
I just need to rest for as long as it takes and I come out the other side ok again.
Rest and this time around I was prescribed Valium/ Diazepan which I found helped loads with the horrors of sciatica.
No physio, yoga, pilates, acupuncture, dry needling, osteopathy, special clinics, healing hands or homeopathic remedies have ever helped me - in the past I've  spent the money and tried them all. I don't think they've ever sped up my recovery process and weekly appointments at €60ph soon add up.
Rest, when the inflammation has gone down a little, gentle stretches and just steadily building up.
Rest, patience and Valium.
And a gf who'll get in all the shopping and do lots of chores for me during the down times.
Thanks C.
Hopefully it'll be a good few years before you need to put on my socks again.

I've also learned over the years to have patience with the countless people who tell me they know what I should do to heal my back.
You don't, but thanks, I know you're just trying to help.

3 months on and I'm completely ok again. The inflammation has gone, the pain has gone, but so has my fitness.
After all those hours of winter miles too, cycling through countless hours of shitty weather.

Whilst my fitness has gone my belly has ballooned.
I love my food, and 3 months of lying on a couch watching The Bridge, The Killing, Orange is the New Black and countless crap films has meant that the scales have gone from my lowest of 10 stone 5 to 'oh shit, does that really say 11 stone 4'?

But now I'm back cycling again.
Only commuting 17km per day, but after weeks of not being able to put on my own socks and not being able to sleep for pain, the joy of commuting to work is fully appreciated.
Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be posting photos from longer journeys.
But for now I'm fully appreciating the shorter ones.