Blown Away by Hope and Pain.

There are two parts to this blog, as technically this computer has been confiscated by my husband so that I can listen to the audio book he has downloaded for me, and so I can fully rest my back.

Firstly, Wow. The power of Mumsnet is two fold! Not only has ‘Doogie Hower’ in disguise found the cause of my back problems but, how many people have come to check out my post! and have left me some amazing supportive messages. And yes, the more I think about it, the more I can feel the place where that oddly large and painful but quick to disappear from my memory bruise was. It was right in-between my vertebrae at the base of my spine. Now I remember, and have discussed with R, neither of us have any idea how it escaped our memories. It just demonstrates how easy it is to block very important details from our minds.

There is no doubt in my mind  now that the unfortunate event of the shower curtain caused my slipped disc. But, I know many people are thinking, as R did, ‘so what?’ and as someone commented on my last post ‘you can’t un-salt the soup’. That is true. This revelation does not fix my back. It won’t change the treatment offered. The damage is done and it is going to take a long time to fix, whatever the cause. Perhaps had I linked it at the time it might be a different story, but probably not.

What this does change is how I deal with it, emotionally, in the long-term. It gives me hope. I was told by several medical professionals that this is likely degenerative. It has happened over a period of time and the disc is disintegrating. This has put a little pressure on the discs above. And, as it is degenerative, it is likely this will progress upwards in time. This has been the source of great angst for me, as many of those who have journeyed with me over this last almost-year know. Coming to terms with the loss of so many things in my future. Having to find a way to parent so this debilitating condition does not hugely and negatively impact on my children’s upbringing. I have had so many tears of worry that this might end up crippling me. I have seen my career disappear in front of me and seen my relationship change and become damaged in front of my eyes.

This means, that maybe there is a chance that won’t happen. This means that if I can get this disc fixed, that it might not spread upwards, that it is not degenerative, that it is not inevitable that my life will be a continued cycle of pain and medication. Hope.

Alas this leads to the second part of my post. At the time I should be revelling in this fabulous news (and believe me I have been blown away by it) and seeing this as a new episode in my life, where I can go to work with little pain feeling this is actually progress that might stay, instead of walking with a swing in my step, I am in bed in pain as my back has gone again and I can’t stand or walk.

I have been throwing up since sunday, (for those who have an aversion to vomiting stories, read on, there will be no details) and now I am unable to walk for pain and muscle spasms. I have a theory about this, about the links between my pain and being sick, but that is for another time. For now, having had to crawl to the toilet on my hands and knees I am in so much pain I am going to return to the excellent audio book The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for those who want something cool to listen to.

But, this is not going to beat me now. Not anymore. I am not going to just accept my fate is out of my control, this is not my destiny to have a back problem, it is not genetic, or degenerative. So I can overcome it. After some sleep.

(ps Thank you everyone for reading my blogs and for ‘liking’ and for the lovely comments. It means a lot. Even with a little nudge from those at the top.

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My ‘Slipped Disc’ Cause was Discovered by a Mumsnetter.

I have been a ‘Mumsnetter‘ for many years. There. I have said it aloud. I don’t normally advertise it by shouting from the rooftops but there are probably certain behaviours that might give it away. You will find me charging across the busy supermarket to retrieve the BOGOF Fruitshoots that R has put in the trolley, I was an avid breastfeeder and yes I would get my norks out in public to feed my baby (and, shock horror! toddler), and no I wouldn’t cover myself in a huge shroud to hide it, I am proud of being a woman and a supporter of girls being girls not sexualised mini-adults. Now I suspect that those traits along with my other ‘mumsnet outing’ traits were always there and that is why I am a mumsnetter, although to some extent I probably have a little more confidence to voice some of my longstanding views than before. Some people might argue those traits exists simply because Mumsnet has influenced me.  Of course there are some things I do which are directly as a result of my membership of the Clan of Witches as my husband calls it (or ‘The Oracle’ when he is being nice) such as being so bold as to say ‘did you really mean to be so rude?’ to someone who has upset me, or ‘accidentally’ leaving my shopping list in the trolley at the end of my shopping, with items such as Naice Ham, Pombears and Grapes on it.

But, regardless of how much influence and when, there are some times when credit has to be given completely and utterly to the women (ok so there are some male wannabes but it is MUMsnet and not PARENTsnet) of this outspoken and sometimes controversial network. And this is one of those times. And there is one particular Mumsnetter and well-loved blogger who has my thanks today and possibly for a long time to come – DILLYTANTE.

She casually asked me today if I was the person who had an accident involving a shower screen. And yes, that was me. I kid you not – a couple of years ago I was kneeling under the bathroom shower screen as the bath was filling with bubbles for the children. My daughter had unknowingly pushed it across so she could lean over to swirl the bubbles. My son was standing to the right of me, I was undressing him. I stood and lifted my head, full force up into the shower screen, the force so hard it pulled it out of its brackets, the corner of it cutting into my scalp. It toppled forwards, edge hitting the sink in front which broke into several large pieces, one of which flew and hit me in the face, breaking my nose and cutting above my eyebrow. I did not feel the warmth of the blood trickling down my face or the throbbing of my now slightly more crooked nose. I was terrified that my son or daughter was hurt. Bella was screaming (because she could see the blood) and I was screaming because my son lay on the floor. Luckily, that was because I had pushed him and he was completely unharmed. Bella had a small cut on her little toe and apart from being shaken was otherwise unharmed. I have no idea how this very odd and scary turn of events did not hurt my children, but I know as I got them out of the bathroom to tend to my bloody face that it was not short of a miracle that it had missed Roo by a whisper as he was so close to me. I dread to think what it would have done to him. And so I was thankful for my broken nose.

Two years and one month on, and DillyTante has reminded me of something. Yes, I said, that was me. Was that the cause of your back problems?  No, I said, not related to my back. And then I remembered. I thought about that event, and I remembered. As I remembered part of the event that had slipped from my memory, the jigsaw pieces fit into place. As the shower screen slid down me after hitting the sink, I was still bent over, the sharp corner of it landed on the base of my spine, leaving a small cut and an enormous painful bruise. I was so caught up with the overwhelming relief that my children were ok that I did not think about it again. Nor did I remember mentioning it to the doctor at A&E when I had my wounds seen to, worried about my broken nose, although R was certain I did, and as with most other discussions with professionals, not taking seriously.

And nor did I think about it again 8 days later and 2 days before I was due in hospital to have my broken nose straightened, when I picked my 10 month old son up from my bed and the first wave of searing agonising pain shot through my back and legs. This was the start of two years of regular bouts of debilitating back pain. I did not link this completely devastating pain to the healing bruise and cut on my back, as I dragged myself through the corridors of the hospital on the day of my nose operation, stooped in pain and high as a kite on valium and codeine that had been prescribed over the ‘phone by emergency doctor (when I told him I was having to try and wee in a potty as I could not get to the toilet).  The hospital gave me a reclining chair to sit on and gave me my 4 hourly doses of this medication to help me cope with the pain while I waited for hours in agony from my back muscle spasm, so that I could actually make it until my operation.  I had my nose straightened and home for several more days in bed, battered, bruised and in pain. I did not put those two events together as I did not know then what a slipped disc really was, or that I had one and did not link the pain I was now experiencing with the isolated pain of a bruise.

And this bruising and cut on my back was never thought of again. Until DillyTante made the connection with her clearly amazing memory. How could have I forgotten it? I ran downstairs to gush this revelation to my husband. ‘ok’ he said ‘does it really change anything?’ Helllooo! Not only do I now remember what has triggered it, but it has always been assumed that this back condition of mine is degenerative, as there has been no known injury that could have triggered this. Except. Now there is a very likely injury. Central annular tears (where the outer disc crust has torn dead centre rather than to one or other side)  are not very common, unless by trauma force injury, so it is entirely probable that this was caused by the shower screen hitting my lower spine with force.

That means DillyTante that this might not be degenerative. And it changes a lot! And, once again it re-enforces the power of people who come together across the miles through forums and blogs. A blogger and Mumsnetter can remember something I have long forgotten, that is pretty incredible, and may well change the fate of my future.

What Am I Doing Here?!!

Honestly? I am wondering why I am here. And how the hell do I actually do this? I have a lot of words to write down but I have no clue about blogging, the format, how to make it took pretty, how to get people to come and read my blog, how on earth to make it not look childish and messy. There are so many talented women out there. How can I be even vaguely like them?

I came into the world of writing and blogging by accident, to talk about the pain and frustrations of a torn lumbar disc and other issues relating to long term back problems, to cure boredom in the lonely evenings while my husband works unsociable hours and my friends have other things to do that listen to my durge. I thought ‘I can do that if others can’. I  had an air of grandeur about me then, I felt great, I was going to be amazing. I was flying!

And then I crash-landed. I am now doubting myself,  feeling foolish, feeling dumb. Every time I see other blogs, I don’t see inspiration. I see things I can’t ever do. I look at my musings and it seems silly, ridiculous, a non-starter.

Perhaps this is the frame of mind that suits today. I will try again tomorrow.

I Really Don’t Like Celery

I hate celery

I bought some frozen casserole mix, unaware that it contained, mostly, the most useless and vile tasting vegetable ever. Celery. Which is very unpleasant to eat, but which I could not bear to throw out ‘in case I ever found a use for it. And then, after a particularly cruel flare-up I Found a use. The frozen casserole mix became the perfect treatment for the inevitable ‘flare-up’ after stupidly pushing my daughter downhill on her bike or such foolish antics, the cheap equivalent of an ice pack, the new ‘bag of peas’.

And then disaster struck. After being used so many times and partially defrosting and freezing it again, it turned into one solid lump of mostly celery and is rather uncomfortable to lay on, thus rendering it entirely useless and consigned to the bin. I found this out today, after doing said foolishness, followed by hobbling around a supermarket a 4pm with hungry children and husband, then collapsing onto the sofa with the Mostly Made of Celery Casserole Mix, only to find I was akin to the Princess and the Pea. This Will Not Do. Unfortunately there is no other food in the freezer which we can sacrifice – we are using the baby corn tonight for the kids tea, and I am certain that Quorn sausages won’t be particularly comfortable to lay on either. Now I am laying on the cold space where the casserole mix once was, in pain and watching Abney and Teal thinking how useless celery really is. Contemplating not for the first time this week whether I should self medicate with a glass of Pinot Noir.

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.

Wine Can’t Cure Back Pain…The Beginning

Wine Can’t Cure Back Pain…The Beginning


I have a Bad Back. I talk about it pretty much all the time, to pretty much anyone who will listen. I have been known to send people (my husband) to sleep with my wittering. Over the last 9 months I have been on, and I am still on, the biggest learning journey since parenthood. It seems like a good idea to rant and moan, share my pain and my fears, my difficulties with managing the children, my breakthroughs and my relapses, my learning and my ideas, my battle through the medical system, my success and my failure with medication in a Blog rather than (or, let’s be honest, as well as) with the family, friends, work colleagues and people at the bus stop who are quite clearly Fed Up of it now.

So, I have gone For It and I am excited, and nervous. I am chucking myself completely into the unknown. It is not the same as writing for others. Yes I talk a lot, mostly bollocks. And I write a lot, much of the same. What if I am Bad at It? What if no-one reads it? Worse, what if people read it and laugh? But, then I remind myself that I actually have a lot to say about back pain. Maybe people will read it. Maybe they  won’t even laugh. Maybe I can Do It.’.

But the instant I made the decision I stumbled upon the first hurdle, the first problem which almost made me shut the computer in a huff and give up. My blogname. I couldn’t think of a catchy one. I knew what I wanted, but the words were not there. Not A Good Start, Writers Block before I have even written a sentence.

 I wanted humorous, ironic maybe, not clinical and matter of fact, something that people who read this will find easily, will find funny, will understand and connect with. I knew it. I just couldn’t remember it (I will blame the meds). I spent an entire day lying down (I won’t tell the physio that) thinking, drinking coffee, watching daytime tv for inspiration. I even asked ‘the witches’ online to help me chose a name. And just when I thought it was not going to happen and contemplated drowning my sorrows in red wine and tramadol, I had an image of me propping myself up against a kitchen breakfast bar in a rented cottage one christmas, unable to sit or stand, after days of pain, and recalled some-one refilling my tightly clutched wine glass and saying to me ‘wine does not cure back pain, but it does help!’ and there it was. Right there, where it was the whole time. My blogname.

This is the start of something, I am not sure where it will go. If you have back pain and children, or just back pain, share my journey. Come back and visit me. I will try not to bore you.