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. 

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My Husband Stabbed My Leg!

I am taking a low dose of amitriptyline for nerve pain; sciatica.  I am 3 weeks in and it has almost stopped my back, hip, stomach and leg pain completely; it is working as it is meant to, pretending there is no sciatica. Unfortunately one side effect of amitriptyline is that my spatial awareness has gone out the window and I am constantly walking into things, causing bruises that have me hastily explaining to all and sundry that R has not completely lost his patience with me, and really, yes, I did walk into a Mother and Child Parking sign, while R howled with laughter in the car.

Talking of bad impressions. Reduced pain is great, but I am now left with constant pins and needles in my left foot, calf and thigh. Yesterday I was pretty sure I could sense numb patches on my calf. R walked into the kitchen and looked on in amazement as I sat at the kitchen table, casually tapping at my calf, foot and toes with the sharp point of the parring knife to check if I was right. However I learnt that you can’t check your own leg with any useful results.

Two minutes later, my slightly unconvinced husband was also sat at the table holding the parring knife to my calf. ‘just do it!’ I said, with my hands over my eyes to make sure the test would be accurate. ‘I am!’ said my husband, alarmed at how hard he was tapping my leg with the knife to no response.

And there is the confirmation. I have an actual numb calf. The nerve damage is being hidden by amitriptyline, the wonder drug. I’m not entirely sure what, if anything I am going to do about that. No-one medically seems to listen. What more do I want than the handfuls of drugs that turn me into a dribbling shell of my former self? I am not in lots of pain; the sciatica is under control, so I should be thankful. And I hope that the numbness was always there just hidden by the pain.

It’s not often that one can say their husband stabbed them in the leg without it leading to a criminal conviction is it?

TIme for Change

Having completed the fear inducing first blog post, this is my first daily log, a snapshot history of my back pain and a snippet of how it has affected my parenting. My life has changed dramatically over the last few months. But not more than in the way it has impacted on my family.

My Summer Girl and and Winter Son are young. And wonderful. They are so empathic it makes me cry sometimes. They have taken it upon themselves to be my saviours, to cheer me up when I am low, to kiss my back when it hurts and Summer Girl rushes to get me a gallon of water as soon as she sees me reaching for my meds.  They also take it upon themselves to jump on me at every given opportunity. If I happen to lie on the floor to do my physio exercises, Winter Boy does not see mummy doing press-ups, he sees a horse for him to ride, on he jumps ‘you horsey mummy! Go! Faster!’, or jumps from the top of the sofa onto my belly or legs. And Summer Girl still gives the best hugs, which often include jumping up and wrapping her feet around my waist, or swings on my arms. OWWWW to all of those things. But, how can I avoid the kids jumping at me and on me, and more to the point why would I want them to? It upsets me that they have to adapt their behaviour because I can’t step up to the mark as a mother. It upsets me that I can’t be the one to push Summer Girl as fast as I can on her bike, or swing Winter Boy up in the sky. But it is how it is and I have to find a way to cope with that.

About 2 weeks after my back ‘went’ again in June, I finally got the results of my MRI, and a conversation with my osteopath went along the lines of ‘and you have to avoid things that will cause a relapse, like for example picking up your children…’. Yeah right! I am never going to stop doing that! I thought. Not happening! I decided. Until the pain just refused to go away. And then one day soon after Summer Girl came up to our room after having a bad dream and crawled into bed next to me. After a cuddle,  I scooped her sleepy self up in my arms, legs wrapped around me and head nestled into my neck. As I walked down our winding loft-room stairs and the pain tore through my back and down my legs, my tears flowed, tears not only of pain but of realisation that I this was, consciously, the last time I would be carrying my wonderful daughter back to bed after a bad dream.  I hugged her tightly and cried the tears of a mummy who wasn’t ready to stop carrying her children, but who understood it had to be done.

I cried many tears that night. And, as is often the case in my darkest hours, I turned to the women of a fabulous internet forum, Mumsnet, to get me through. words of sorrow, personal experiences and empathy filled the pages along with great ideas for how to keep the closeness – cuddling in bed, on the sofa for bedtime stories. There are many ways to show her I love her and I realised it was not the end of the world, just a change.

I do still pick Summer Girl up, after all that heartache, but less often, and with much more caution. And certainly not down steep or winding stairs. No more lifting the deadweight of a sleepy child and the pang of regret, of loss of something huge in my life is ever-present in the middle of the night when I am called for and I nudge my husband awake to carry our sleeping child back to her bed.

Roo, well he is a different story. Being 2 and all.