Bad Back Pain Day.

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Yesterday was a Bad Back Pain Day and that means I didn’t write the post planned about how red wine can help back pain.

As R helped me into the shower while I yelped loudly as my back muscles spasmed, pretty much carried out of the shower I thought going to work was a good idea. I had deadlines to meet and my colleagues would be pissed at me if I didn’t go in.

I had to fire Summer Girl as my dressing assistant when she got distracted by a lego toy on the floor, while I was standing with one leg half in the trousers she was meant to be helping me into. R suggested that if I couldn’t get my trousers past my hips and down again, then going to the toilet would be interesting at work. But still I ploughed on through the crippling pain.

I hired 5 year old Winter Boy to pick up the hairdryer from the floordrobe, turn it on at the plug and help dry my hair standing on chair while my back muscle spasmed and my back locked up was causing me to yelp from time to time. Turning around was robotically done to avoid inducing further spasms. But, work would be fine once my medication kicked wouldn’t it?

After threatening to hide my car keys, R finally succumbed to my stubbornness, drove me to work (no way was I able to drive the car), on the condition I got my reports done then came straight home, and I slowly, slowly, pigeon stepped my way to my desk, breathing sharply every time I opened a door, or when the lift jolted.

By 1:15pm, after cancelling all my appointments, having coffee made by colleagues, being helped to the toilet by colleagues (they didn’t help me with my trousers and it took all my effort not to yell as I pulled my too tight trousers up again), my boss was walked with me out of the building as me legs lost their strength and my back pain was so immense I could barely walk. But not before giving me a stern me off for persevering in such pain and immobility.

By the time Ross picked me up and drove me home, I was in tears; my back pain and back lock was so severe I couldn’t lift my feet up a single stair to get to bed, screamed in agony as I tried to get onto the sofa and screamed in sheer pain when anyone touched me. R considered calling an ambulance as I Could Not Move.

Instead, I necked maximum doses of all the painkillers I had in my armoury, (avoiding red wine, shame) and lay in an awkward but still painful position on my side with legs bent at an angle, praying through tears that the pain would subside, before finally passing out through pain and medication. Goodness knows what would have happened if I needed the loo before my meds kicked in as I would have hit anyone trying to move me.

Today I can walk, slowly, as long as it’s not far. I can’t lift anything heavier than a coffee cup, and going to the toilet remains interesting and any movement is careful and considered. I am not in work, instead I am watching The Lego Movie for the millionth time with Winter Boy while R has taken Summer Girl to by some school things.

It might have been a stupid idea to go to work with acute back pain, but at least I got my reports done by their deadline.

If you find yourself having sudden unbearable lower back pain, it can be very frightening. You need to keep as still as you can, in the most comfortable position available. If you have already had this before, you should have an emergency medicine box (if not, get one now), with Diazepam and Ibruprofen or similar NSAID medication in (if you can take NSAIDS) as your minimum medication. And don’t forget trusted paracetamol.  Take these as soon as you can, and apply heat to your back. If you don’t have anything stronger/opiate based, call your GP or other primary care provider immediately who will provide stronger medication to cope with the pain (normally codeine or similar if you can take those). You will likely be woozy with the medication so you won’t be able to do driving, chores etc (not that you can with that much pain) so try to get someone to be around to help you.

Don’t be afraid to call your local Out of Hours care providers if your GP is not available, or even 999 if your pain is unmanageable at home with maximum painkillers doses that you can safely take at home, as unmanageable pain is a medical emergency in itself.

The chances are, the cause of your lower back pain is a muscle spasm and will subside in a day or two (hopefully to more bearable levels within a couple of hours).  If however, you have red flag symptoms, specifically, but not exclusive those of Cauda Equina Syndrome, you MUST call 999 immediately, as this is a medical emergency. If you are unsure about the symptoms, don’t take any chances and call 999. The hospital will do the necessary checks to rule it out/in.

Most of all, try not to panic, as that can tense your muscles even more and increase the pain. Easier said than done I know. 

Medicinal Spa Pool Recommended by GP

I have had a very unpleasant week. My back went into spasm again last week and coupled with significant vomitting for much of the week I was quite a mess – in pain, could not eat or drink anything, couldn’t take my medication of any kind for much of the week. Let’s not do details, but the short of it is, as well as being in horrendous pain and unable to stand straight, I also struggled to <ahem> take a shit. The medication, along with pain, and not eating much had basically stopped my digestive system from working. It is all sorted now but the week and in particular the end of it was actually quite traumatic. My GP said taking a laxative was like taking a sledgehammer to fix the problem. And she was right.

Today, post traumatic stress induced me has been signed off work for a further two weeks. Again. After managing a wonderful 2 weeks at work. My GP told me to ‘forget about work’ for the time being (not for the first time) concentrate on myself. Luckily I get paid full sick pay but that is not the point, I want to and need to be working.

So, I am going to the gym, to walk the pool and keep active, and then to sit in the Jacuzzi until I am wrinkly. I told my GP this and she said this was entirely recommended that I need more than anything to relax myself and that will help with the pain. She suggested doing it daily. I wonder if I can get it on prescription?

I had a conversation with some lovely people on Mumsnet yesterday about keeping reserves so that I have something to fall back on when things get bad. I was given a link by one of those people who herself suffers from chronic debilitating back pain about the Spoon Theory. If you have not heard of it, take a look. Work is a task that cannot take one of my spoons at the moment as I don’t have that many in my hands, but the spa, right now can take that spoon.

Today I Read 350 Emails and Smiled A Lot

Last night my two-almost-three year old boy snuggled himself on my side of the bed. By the time I get to bed, he is stretched across the bed, but every now and then rolls over to the edge. I spend several hours tossing and turning only half asleep waiting for the ‘thud’ of him falling off the bed that is a million times bigger than him. By the time R returns from his late night out, Roo has been gently carried back to his own bed, eyes shut, head in my neck and as I tuck him under his duvet he makes a feeble effort to show his disapproval ‘i don’t wan go to my bed, I wan…zzzzzzzz’. 5:00am and he has climbed back between us. Next thing I know is Bella cuddled next to me hanging off the bed on the other side of me, talking non-stop. I figure it must be almost 7am due to her incessant questions and chatter. I glance at the clock after 10 minutes or so and find it is 5.45am. I am So Not Impressed.

3 hours and 15 minutes, two cups of coffee and a long shower later I am on the wrong bus going around the houses to take 25 minutes to drive what should be a 10 minute journey to work, for my first day after 5 weeks off sick due to sciatic nerve pain. It is a good job really as the other bus drops me outside The Hut where I would find it difficult to walk past without buying a Skinny Latte Extra Shot. That would be 4 caffeine shots before work and I am going to be wired enough anyway with the variety of painkillers I have taken with the first two, along with the lasting effects of amitriptyline from my nightly dose.

Wow! My office is bright! and noisy! By 10am my head is pounding with the lights, noise, and the 350 emails I have to read. I am not sure if this is the medication or just shock at being back at work after the relatively sedate time off sick. My boss comments that I am looking better than she has seen me for ages. Repeats this several times and says that the time off has done me good. She is trying to work out what is different. Make Up, I tell her. I am wearing make-up. I actually spent 30 minutes plastering it on in a way to make it look like I was wearing not a jot of make up apart from lipgloss and mascara, disguising the heavily medicated eyelids that even my thick framed glasses cannot hide and the dark circles and red blotchy skin. Well, it has worked I find out as several colleagues comment on how well I look. I am not sure whether that means I always looked rough before, or only when I was looking so ill with pain, but either way, they really do seem genuinely surprised that I look well. I decide on the latter and plaster on a beaming smile for every comment I get.

I sit on my old, alleged back pain specialist chair. This is not the one that was recommended by the back specialist assessment, the one that I later find out is going to cost £800+. This is the chair they have decided will do after all despite being recommended otherwise (I can’t figure out why they think this…). Except, when I sit in it and the pins and needles shoot from my left foot straight up my leg and into my buttock, my boss quickly changes her mind and 20 minutes later the approval for the new chair has been signed and sent off. But, they still won’t let me have red leather or an iPod charger. However it does recline. Bonus.

By the time I leave the office I am limping slightly and my head is pounding from the excessively fast-paced office, from struggling to focus on the computer screens, having to engage with people and on the whole being unused to Life On the Outside on my pain meds.

I am now watching Black Beauty with my children, tired but relieved that I got through my first day back with relatively little trouble and without falling asleep  or slurring my words in front of my colleagues. But I really must get myself some of those noise blocking ear protectors.

Shall I have a glass of wine to celebrate?

No Driving!

You know what? I can’t actually write what I think today. Well I can, but it is exceptionally dull. Not witty, or informative. I have tried to write something 3 times. I even posted one of them. Shocking.

There are bigger problems in the world than me not being able to drive the car for a while because of medication side effects. At least I have a car and have a partner who can drive it.

There are bigger problems in the world than numb patches and pins and needles in my leg and being told by my GP that this might now be permanent. And bigger problems as fighting to get my GP to re-refer me to the Spinal Pathway because ‘many people make a decision to accept numb patches, pins and needles over spinal surgey’. At least I am not in horrendous pain any more thanks to being pumped full of drugs. At least I can walk.

There are bigger problems in the world than my boss being a bit shitty with me when I said I was returning on reduced hours, not today, but tomorrow and her making it clear not to expect any Welcome Back banners . At least I have a job. At least I have enough money to pay the bills and take the family on holiday this year.

At least I am alive and relatively well. And my family are well and with me.

Yet somehow, that does not cheer me up.

Too Much Information

I was going to write an informative post about what I am learning relating to employment and back problems – being recognised as having a disability at work, employment rights and the Equality Act. Seeing as I am returning to work tomorrow I felt it was an apt topic.

However, this evening, as I rocked out to Ozzfest on Guitar Hero, I felt hot and sweaty and not because I Rock. The indigestion that has plagued me all day finally got the better of me – almost immediately after I chewed two generic brand chalky tablets to alleviate it, I threw up that and the chocolate I ate after our woodland walk.

Yesterday morning I also threw up, after eating two small delicious Rachel’s Organic Yoghurt pots. Again, indigestion, followed quite quickly by me saying hello to God through the great white telephone and that time I had a lot to say to him.

Now the next bit is Too Much Information. On both occasions there were lots and lots of very small dark brown/black spots in my vomit, and I suspect it is blood. It is often described as looking like coffee grounds, but this is not entirely accurate – mine looked rather like toast flakes. And actually I have been sick a few times over the last few weeks and I always have had dark bits of toast in it, which did make me raise my eyes slightly, but as I had actually eaten toast, it seemed logical that if it looked like toast, maybe it was in fact toast. Which would be a great explanation for these flakes, except I have not eaten toast all weekend.

R is not too concerned, took it as an excuse to tell me I am not eating properly, I checked on the NHS direct online and their survey said ‘straight to A&E’. Sod That. They say that to everything. ‘The Witches’ as R refers to them, they said call Out of Hours but they also said it could also be the Omeprazol turning brown in my stomach. So that is what I have decided it is, as I don’t want to go to hospital tonight only to be sent home, nor do I want to call OOH who will tell me to go see them at the hospital, and then send me home. I am seeing me good friend the GP tomorrow anyway and discuss it then.

It is what I have been half expecting having taken the NSAID Diclofenac daily since christmas, and only being put on the acid reducing Omeprazol in the last couple of months. In theory I am aware of the potential risks of taking long-term Diclofenac as it increases the production of acid in the stomach and therefore increases the risk of burning through the stomach lining, causing a stomach bleed or an ulcer. But in practice it slips my mind and I have to be honest and say I sometimes forget to take the Omeprazol. Also, due to my reduced appetite I sometimes skip breakfast which I know is a Bad Habit and makes this entire thing my Own Stupid Fault.

I know I should be more concerned than I appear to be. But, I guess there has been so much going on and so much ignored I am sceptical about putting my health in the hands of the professionals just to be sent packing yet again. And, if this is blood and if it is caused by the Diclofenac, I will probably have to come off all NSAIDS for good. Then I will be Actually Screwed. I threw up all my meds yesterday morning, and by the afternoon I started to get a stiff back and pain in my back and legs. I tried coming of Diclofenac a while ago as I don’t want to take them due to all the long-term risks, and clearly whatever is Going On Inside has not gone away as without them I cannot stand straight due to the inflammation causing back pain and sciatic pain in abundance. I guess my enthusiasm for the anti-inflammatory diet might be re-ignited very soon.

Right now I am in much less pain with my prolapsed and torn lumbar disc than I have been for a long time, yet unfortunately the side affects bring their own issues such as this, me walking into things, constant tiredness, loss of appetite. I would like to just go back to normal now please. No drugs. No pain. Just me. Thanks.