Tag Archives: back pain

The Heal Thy Steff Plan: The Victoria Model v2.0

I try to learn life lessons where I can, but I’m not sure what to glean from spending $95 on a massage, then sleeping on my arm wrong.

Sometimes, maybe there isn’t a lesson. Sometimes, maybe life’s just stupid.

Ignoring the “Oops, I did it again” sleep and all, the massage was awesome. I’m still in a frustrated headspace, though. This weekend, some game-planning’s goin’ down.

See, like the ever-smart pragmatist I try to be, I realized the year-end was upon us and I’ve begun trying to make all my leftover medical benefits vanish by way of use, rather than time running out on me.

I took this shot near my home yesterday. Had a 4km pre-breakfast sunrise walk. Beats the shit out of walking to a bus stop on a busy thoroughfare, like I’d be doing back in the city in the morning.

Hello, beefy masseur. Howdy, Mr. Chiro. Bonjour, acupuncturist. Allo, physiotherapist. Holy fuck, look at that crowded calendar.

Thus begins the 10-week intensive Heal Thy Steff regimen. Oh, and I’m signing up for yoga at the end of the month, and I’ve just joined the gym. I’ll continue with my avid walking/cycling life as well, with my last bus ride having been in July.

It’s about to become a very anti-social, very focused, and very broke end-of-year for me, but with, I hope, fantastic results. I’m imagining myself starting 2013 in the best mind/body place I’ve been in for a few years. But I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy time of life management or physicality. Time to get my game on.

Last year, when I did something similar, I spent my funds completely differently — on experimental stuff on the other side of town, after which I’d get home tired, often soaked, and frustrated. This time, I’m doing more traditional treatments I know have worked for me before, and I don’t need to spend 70 hours a month on the bus to make it happen. Instead, everything’s within 2.5 kilometres of me.

I’m switching chiropractors, which is the one big risk. The guy I’m with has worked with many Olympians and is incredible, but he also causes a lot of pain. I’m in constant inflammation, and I’m just wondering if someone else who uses the same techniques can be a little more forgiving with my body. The worst thing is, his time management sucks. Out of about 15 appointments, only 3 times have I gotten in with less than 15 minutes’ waiting, and at least 5 times I have waited 45 minutes. I know I’m not some big fancy rich person or anything, but my time’s valuable to me, too.

And given I’m cycling 30 minutes/9km each way to his appointment, that’s adding up to about 2 hours of my time, not to mention the half-hour I have to stretch after all the cycling’s done, or that I usually justify this time/effort spent as a reason to order bad food on my way home. Add to that the money I’ve spent on the session, and suddenly it’s a black hole of time and expense, and usually ends up making me bitchy.

So, Olympians or no, I’m moving on to someone closer, whose bio sounds like he has a similar life/wellness perspective as what I’m hoping to attain.

Any way you slice it, this plan I have in mind will take tremendous discipline, a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. It’s a huge commitment, and one I’ve not been ready to make before now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be meeting with a prominent physiotherapist who’s got an amazing background, and I will be getting a program started with him.

It also means I put writing on the back burner once again.

My recent birthday, and getting my new driver’s license, has opened this realization that I’ve been on this five-year journey through a lot of levels of pain, and I’m fucking tired, man. It needs to end. If it means I throw EVERYTHING at this, for one amazing 10-week period, and see where it gets me, then so be it.

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license photo back and this massively fat face was peering back at me. I’d just quit a job that had sent me spiralling towards depression because my employer was a toxic, negative hag who had high turnover with good reason, and went back to a job I’d always enjoyed (and am still at). I chose to do something about that depression by way of exercise and eating better, and adopted a lot of good habits, worked crazy hard, and lost 85 pounds in the next year (but gained 10 back immediately, and maintained a 75-lb loss for the next 2+ years) before blowing my back 4 years ago this month.

The last four years have been a repetitive story of rehab and fall-backs, including me regaining weight (it was 25 lbs when I left Vancouver, spiked to 35lbs after, and now is at 28lbs regained, so…).

All this culminated in this year’s decision that the city was killing me and I needed a slower pace of life that would be kinder to my body.

So, I sit here now, typing in my pajamas before a day of working from home, which is some 7 or so blocks from one of North America’s best urban ocean stretches, where I find my soul and refill it often.

I have come a long, long ways in the last seven months since my move.

It’s why I’m ready to make the commitment now, despite the fact that the fat, long-injured girl deep inside me is scared as hell about what it’s gonna feel like to go hard and face all the things that emotionally come with rehabbing your body after injury.

I suspect I’ll get bored of being in all the same neighbourhoods by the end of this year, since I’ll be in a 3-5km radius for much of the winter months, until Victoria is bike-friendly and pretty and warm for cycling again, but at least I’m close enough to never have an excuse to not cycle to appointments, since it would amusingly take about 3 times as long to bus as it would to cycle.

I’m scared and excited, but either way, time to go to the next level of Steff v2.0: The Victoria Model.

Let’s do this.

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Holy World of Hurt, Batman! Round Deux Begins.

I am NOT keen about this.

Let’s say THAT right now.

Shortly: Round two of IMS. That’s intramuscular stimulation. Which is, you know, a fancy way of saying STICKING NEEDLES INTO THE SUCKIEST PART OF YOUR SUCKIEST MUSCLES and wriggling it around until a contraction is forced. BOOM, muscle tension be gone.

Know that saying “No pain, no gain”? They were talking about shit like this.

So, surprisingly, there’s no alcohol or mojo-picker-upper in this coffee of mine. I have no portable brass balls I can adopt for this. I am quivering nervously before I go in. Truth be told, it’s my “girl time” and we get a whole lot more sensitive to pain when we’re in this phase, so I’m afraid I’m gonna kick the woman when she’s pricking me.

Last week I shouted “HOLY FUCKING SUCKY, BATMAN.” No, really. I did. Apparently that was the first time a patient ever had that reaction.

But, fuck, man, the thought that I’m walking in there and paying to be stuck like a pig, well, that just baffles the mind.

AND YET.

AND YET I’m going in.

Why? Because there’s been so much improvement since my first visit. Because I know things don’t come easily when chronic pain has been the status quo for months, months, and even years on end. Because I know the only way to the end of pain is to go THROUGH the pain.

And because I know I’m gonna have wine, pizza, and sleep a lot after it.

I decided to quickly write this post because I know a lot of people who’ve had injuries and then they choose to piss and moan about those injuries without ever doing anything about them.

It’s why I got so depressed for a while there — because I WAS doing what had to be done, and yet it was fucking up every time. This time, I’m not on the bike that is reportedly so much a part of my sustained injury, and the progress is great because I’m doing what needs to be done — the hard exercises, as well as the therapeutic practices, and I’ve figured out what to STOP doing, too.

If you’re living with constant pain/injuries and you’ve never seen proper physiotherapists to get proper treatment, and you don’t put in the 4–7 hours of exercise a week it tends to need for recovery (minimum), then you gotta ask yourself if you’re doing what needs to be done.

IMS is gonna end the stupid muscle memory that’s been putting so much strain on my spine and fucking up my nerves. It’s gonna break all that Stupid up, and things will improve. It’s literally breaking me down so I can build myself into something new, better, stronger, faster.

Since last Saturday, all nervous-strain tingling in my feet and hands has stopped. This is a good development.

Still, it’s okay to REALLY FUCKING HATE GOING IN, so long as I’m also reminding myself that, by about 6 tonight I’ll feel great, and I’ll probably sleep 10–12 hours tonight too. And I’ll have a yet another week with much less pain than I’ve been living with for 8 months.

That’s rehab for you. Suffer, then improve.

It’s been a pretty rocky road, but this is the first week where I’ve had more good days than bad since about Christmas 2010, and I’ve exercised the whole way through, and the first time in a couple years where I’ve began an intensive new workout schedule where I didn’t have a world of pain that followed.

Rehab from serious injury is never a straight line. It’s not an easy road. It will emotionally kick the shit out of you, it will isolate you from the world, and it will cause you to learn a lot about yourself. It will force you to try new things and learn all about different aspects of health — if you really care about healing.

It will also teach you that career professionals and doctors are as often wrong as they are right, and that no one’s an expert on your body like you are, if you really listen to it.

I’m hoping this is the turning of a corner.

But I’m still going to hate attending this appointment.

AND YET… I’m off. Stick a fork in me, Henry. I’m done.

EDIT NOTE: It’s the afternoon and the session was less painful than last week’s, so I guess the first time’s the worst time, and I’m glad I gave into the fear and expected the worst, since it made me feel like a goof and I’ll be calmer next week. Much less sissified. :P

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A Journally Thing: Of Clean Houses and Sore Backs

So, things are in new places and places are in new things. Whoa. Feeling a little Seuss-y there for a moment.

Mornin’, kids.

I had me a long weekend, and it was good. I’ve had so many weekends of trying to get somewhere new around my home, and it’s never really worked, despite getting the place reasonably organized. Every week, boom, another cleaning disaster unfolds.

Recently, I’d written about cleaning a cupboard with an approach of “from where does the mess begin?” Then I wondered, why can’t I do that with my home?

So, on a complete whim, Saturday, I got up, moved a couple things, and then I had reoriented my whole living room, with greater space for workout and a cleaner path through my place, with less clutter.

I sat down with my wine Saturday night and kept looking around the apartment, all “Oooh.” I still wasn’t done and I made some changes Sunday, but my space feels lighter to me now.

My continuing progression of self is going well this fall.

Massive edit here. I wrote about 5 paragraphs explaining how I was an emotional Ugly Cry Mess for a week last week, partly due to PMS, but mostly, I think, due to a rib being out of place in my back. The same spot is considered by Chinese medicine to be a meridian for our Chi, which is life energy, and the flipside, over the heart area, is considered an acupressure/acupuncture point for happiness. I had the rib fixed by my chiro Friday, right after getting my “more happier button” reset, as my acupuncture doctor says, and I haven’t come close to being emotional or sad since.

It’s funny how the body works.

So, when we’re “out of alignment,” we really are.

It’s been months that I’ve been recuperating from this stupid injury, so I wonder what that does to the headspace.

Well, my mood’s been fucking great since Friday.

I’ve been keeping to myself, doing the things I’ve longed to do, and finally have gotten my space up to speed. I like what I’ve done this weekend. On top of that, I’ve had 8–10 hours a night of sleep for three nights — which is on par with being a religious experience after the restless September I had and the months of sporadic sleep preceding that.

Friday was sort of my hitting-bottom of my back injury. No, the back’s not BAD these days, but it’s not what I’d hoped it’d be. Hell, I thought I’d be over this shit by June, but it’s turning into 2/3rds of a year in a couple weeks. That’s a long time for things to be awry.

The trouble with an injury like the back is not just that it puts you in severe pain for weeks on end — about seven excruciating weeks for me, and three months of low-grade pain after that — but how much it incapacitates you in the long run.

I’ve been running at 50–75% capacity for months now. I have to STOP when I hear things in my body saying “this is too much.” Whether I’m cleaning, out with friends, whatever. When your back says stop, you better fucking listen.

These days, though, it says stop less frequently. By making the choice to spend most weekends at home slowly getting my life back on track, and recuperating as needed, I’ve done exactly what I’d hoped to do.

I’m also starting with a new physiotherapist this week.

People don’t get how much of a financial burden it is to get injured. If you can’t work 100%, and you’re constantly putting out money on care, and you’re occasionally taking the easy route with takeout or delivery because SOMETHING has to give, well, it’s a pretty draining existence financially. I’ve been in that boat immediately after about seven months of unemployment. It’s like that Simply Red song, Money’s Too Tight To Mention. Every back appointment is another $50–100. And you wonder why I have no life.

So, my money goes out on my back, constantly. Literally a few thousand this year. So, finally there’s room for a new physiotherapy routine, which will be wonderful. That starts this Friday. I’m very excited. If it doesn’t work, there’s another I want to try.

It’s that I’m finally able to work a little more that I can do a little more for myself. So, it’s a good thing.

I wish I’d journalled on the pain throughout my injury, though. There were some dark, dark days from March to May this year.

It’s amazing how resilient we can be. Sometimes no one else really knows. But we do. I’m trying to remember now those black fucking days, so I can contrast this casual feeling of liking my living room as my coffee cup hits bottom and buttery sunlight streams through the curtain cracks.

THIS moment, this, right here — this is something I’ve not enjoyed often in the last year… simple contentment within a moment. Not stressed, scared, or panicked. Just… casual.

They call back injuries “invisible” because no one really sees it. They think you’re moody or depressed because there’s a weary look in the eye, bags under them, and a constantly strained face. What they don’t know is that it’s because you can’t sleep more than two or three hours at a time, if that, and you’re never comfortable enough for that edginess to soften.

Back injuries aren’t an inconvenience — they become a way of life.

So, my way of life is still compromised, but it’s improving to the point where I have actual moments of feeling human again. That’s nice.

Everything solved? No. Over the money struggles? Nah. Smooth sailing ahead? Likely not.

And that’s okay. Because at least there’s the possibility of awesome.

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The Desire to be Spent

It’s before 7 on a Saturday morning. The naive plan was, I’d get up and go swimming. I’m up. My body tells me I’m a fucking fool. Sleep, it says.

So, I’m going to. I’ll go back to bed in a few. And I’m all right with that.

The reality is, though, that I’m starting to realize between last night and today, just how much this not-working-out thing is killing and deadening my soul.

It’s worse than not getting laid. Far, far worse. Continue reading

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Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News

Sex, even mere hanky-panky, is a workout.

All that squirming and groping and thrusting makes your whole body (if you’re doing it right) tense and flex. Maybe even throb a little.

Injuries can happen in sex. Hell, people die shagging when their hearts give out. From orgasm to aneurysm, just like that. Continue reading

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How to REALLY Do Kegels: Things I’ve Learned In Rehab

PLEASE READ THE COMMENT DISCUSSION ON THIS POSTING, SINCE THERE ARE VALID CONCERNS BEFORE FOLLOWING ANYTHING IN THIS POSTING. Let me be perfectly clear: This is NOT a posting about how to heal back pain. This remedy is for MY back pain, conjured after a few hours of one-on-one time with a physiotherapist who took $65 an hour for his diagnosis. If you have back problems, go to a professional because there’s no way you should be self-diagnosis, ‘cos that could seriously fuck you up.

THIS is about the proper way to do Kegel exercises, why getting the technique is right, and a bit of a warning about doing them wrong, as I’ve learned from personal experience.

Again, got back problems? There are professionals you need to see, not laypeople’s blogs because you think they know their shit, right? Okay. Good. Disclaimer done. Here you go:

________

Well, I’m seeing a physiotherapist for rehabbing regarding my sorry-ass back after blowing it out in September. I’m apparently on track to be “healed” sometime in February. No, seriously.

Despite losing 50 pounds via cycling a couple thousand clicks and climbing some 45,000+ steps and yoga and shit, my back just up and died something fierce. Apparently all that activity is precisely why

Physiotherapy’s interesting when you have a good practitioner. I landed myself a geek who recognises the smarty-pants geek in me, and he’s breaking down very clearly all the ways my body works so I understand the mechanics behind what’s failed inside me, and how to circumvent such failures in the future.

Part of this means I’m learning about my body in a very new way.

Ironically, the number one thing I’m supposed to be doing in order to prevent this injury from ever, ever returning? Kegel-based exercises. As I wrote on Twitter, at the end of the next three months, I’ll have the strongest, most powerful twat in the world. Why? Because I’m to do 360 Kegel-based repetitions a day. Yes, 360 vagina-clenching excercises. Not like I was Little Miss Stretched-Out in the first place, either, so I’m a little daunted by the extent of these, urm, repetitions. I shall be She of the Vice Grip, I tell ya. Continue reading

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