Back, in business

I’ve been lucky that my crazy, apparently hereditary back problem doesn’t flare up very often — I like to delude myself into thinking it’s because exercise (particularly, yoga’s stretchy-bendiness) keeps everything in a safe place.

But as last week progressed, I found myself moving more cautiously and gingerly, especially in the mornings, to avoid the searing shot of pain when the disk in question pushes up against a nerve. It’s happened only a few times, and I suspect it’s tied to tight leg muscles and an uncharacteristically large amount of standing or walking.

The last time was after a day tromping around San Francisco as a tourist in flip-flops; when we got back to the hotel room I hit it just exactly wrong and dropped like a stone to the floor whimpering,”Ow. ow. ow. ow.” Funny Michael, in midconversation, turned around and looked around the room, where I was no longer at eye level, and said, “Where did you go?” before he found me crumpled on the carpet between the beds.

Each time so far, there’s an incredible shot of pain … but that acts sort of like a “reset” button, because within 10 minutes or so, everything is back to normal again. So when my back starts to act up like this, the badass part of me thinks, “Why don’t you just let it spazz out and get it over with?” The sensible part of me, following the standard instructions of stretching/OTC pain meds, thinks, “Yes, that sounds brilliant: Why not deliberately do something that causes searing pain, instead of trying to avoid it?”

I think that if it were guaranteed that enduring that brief moment of anguish would indeed reset things, I’d be more prone to consider it. But what if that doesn’t work for this time ever — or makes everything worse? I’m getting on a plane Wednesday for a business trip, so I’d like to either improve or maintain, not degrade, to make it through that.

So for now: Hello, Aleve, and lots of sitting, and cautious movements. (Why are the counters in our historic-Phoenix home so damn low?) And very little productivity.

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