I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Back pain and more

Coffee shop celebration: John, me, Theresa, Gene
On Christmas Day, trying to find somewhere to have a decent cup of coffee becomes a real task. Those of us who hang out at Avellino's are spoiled, and regular coffee from Starbucks just isn't the same. The coffee shop is usually closed on Christmas, but two of the employees agreed to open from 8-11 just for coffee, no food, not even regular cups, just to-go paper ones. We didn't even hesitate: we were there before 8:00, waiting for the door to open.

And then here comes Theresa, loaded down with a piping hot quiche right out of her oven, a wonderful fruit salad, champagne and orange juice, with silverware and enough for everyone in the whole place. What a treat! We were intending to go out for breakfast after coffee, but there was no need. Theresa said she was honoring her mother, as Theresa is spending her first Christmas without her, since she died a few months ago. It was lovely and much appreciated. Festive and totally unexpected.

Sort of like my back pain: totally unexpected. I slipped and fell on our Thursday hike, scraped my knee and took a hit on my right hip as well. Since this is becoming a usual thing with me, I didn't think much of it. I was able to get up and keep going, and as soon as I got home I cleaned up the knee, which wasn't as bad as I thought. The hike had been pretty wonderful, a perfect thing to do after all the Christmas festivities. But then on Thursday, when I woke I had a little twinge in my right sacrum area. Nothing I hadn't experienced before.

But as the day went on, although I did all my usual walking and exercises, that area where those pins reside in my lower back began to get really sore. I figured it's another one of those sacroiliac joint pesky pinched-nerve situations. But it feels different: it's so painful that I had trouble sleeping Friday and Saturday nights, and today, Sunday, it's not any better. I've had many back pain scenarios before, where moving in a certain way will make me cry out in pain, but it came and went, depending on how I moved. This is pretty constant pain.

One of the nice things about keeping a blog is being able to go back and search for things that happened earlier. I remembered something similar having occurred back in 2011, more than nine years ago, and I went to a chiropractor who had been recommended to me. His name was long gone from my memory, but there it was! Tomorrow I'll call first thing and see if I can get in to see him. Tuesday I already have an appointment scheduled with the acupuncturist, and he always helps. But until then, it's pretty much all that is on my mind.

One of my blogging friends, Rian, who writes on Older But Better, has recently been dealing with terrible back pain, that just appeared suddenly. Mine was caused from trauma upon trauma, but in her case, she couldn't even walk. It's been almost a month and she's still in serious pain, with diagnostic tests showing nothing, no reason for it. I know why mine is hurting: I keep getting sciatic pain from two six-inch-long pins that reside in my right sacrum, from a pelvic fracture and trauma that I experienced almost twenty years ago. (If I could just fall on my left side, for heaven's sake.) As my sister has reminded me, any of these earlier injuries will come back to haunt us as we age.

I missed the walk with the ladies yesterday, because even though I can walk around, I cannot stride and move fast without discomfort. Getting up from sitting is the most painful movement, but after a few minutes of loud moaning and exclamations, it gets better and I can walk around with difficulty. Yesterday I went off to the pot store for some strong CBD that I can take internally. While I was at it, I also purchased a topical cream to add to the one I already had. Since the old one wasn't helping, the new cream was an effort to see if another formulation would work any better. It doesn't.

But I do have to say that the strong CBD tincture gives me some relief, but not for long. It does take the edge off for a few short hours, and I could sure tell when it stopped working. CBD doesn't make you "high" at all, and the difference with and without the tincture is noticeable, but I'm still in pain. As I sit here in bed with the laptop, I can feel that radiating pain from the pinched nerve, but I can deal with it. My friend Rian couldn't get out of bed for days, so I'm counting my blessings. Today I'll try going to drive to the gym and see how riding the stationary bike works with this pain. Plus, there's a sauna that might feel really good right now.

It's not like pain and I are strangers. I have experienced really serious pain, and I was addicted to OxyContin when I broke my pelvis. Back then the doctors didn't know how hard it would be for people to stop taking that awful opioid. Yes, it's effective with pain, but it's also extremely difficult to stop taking it. My doctor in 2000 had prescribed it without my knowledge; it was just one of the pills that the nurses gave me when I was flat on my back with the external fixator holding my pelvis together. It was a desperate struggle to free myself from that drug, so I can understand why so many people are unable to do so.

These days, I don't even like to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain. I will take two or three tablets, but they really don't do much except mask the discomfort, and anything that does that encourages me to overdo. Pain can be a friend, if we allow ourselves to pay attention to what it's telling us. What it's telling me right now is to be good to myself and stop worrying about the number of steps I'm getting in for the day. It's amazing how strong a motivator my step counter is for me. But that should be secondary to getting better. R&R is hard for some people (rest and relaxation) and for some of us, it takes effort to relax!

Today I might get into the pool at the Y and see how swimming feels. Since I decided not to visit my sister in Florida next month, as I've done for the past eight years, taking a new look at the pool here is on my list of things to explore. When I first started swimming with Norma Jean at her pool, I would come back home and try to keep up the activity here. But the difference between swimming outdoors in a wonderful pool and struggling with the heavy chlorine and very crowded indoor pool here caused me to give it up. Time to see if I've changed my mind.

Well, here I am again, having written a rather mundane post about getting through my most recent misadventure, instead of remembering to count my blessings and be glad I'm still functioning, mostly. My dear partner sleeps next to me, my tea got cold before I finished it off, and the adventure of getting to the coffee shop looms ahead of me. I've got lots of things to watch on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, so there no way I'll be bored, but I prefer working up a sweat and feeling my muscles getting a workout. I think I can still do that, so I'll give it a try today.

Until we meet again next week, I sincerely hope you have a wonderful New Years holiday and take care of yourself. Hopefully I'll be back to my old self by then. Sending you all many virtual hugs and thanking you for being there.


Rian said...

First of all, DJan, your coffee tradition with friends sounds wonderful! Second, I'm so sorry that you fell and hurt your back. But it is good that you "know" what caused it. I wish I knew what I did that caused mine (as I would never do it again!). It is getting better day by day - the lingering pain up my spine hangs on, but this I can deal with. Specialist says it is arthritis in my spine, nothing more (thank goodness - my BC hasn't gone to my bones as I feared). But do be careful and don't overdo. Some say "stay active" others say "rest and give it time to heal" - I guess you must find which works for you. And I agree about not taking strong drugs (altho I did take hydrocodone when it was really bad - and did suffer some withdrawal when I stopped it). Hopefully you will be "back to your old self" soon. Virtual hugs and healing thoughts your way!

Tabor said...

While I do not recommend exercise until you have talked to a doctor, over the years almost always they say keep moving so that your blood flows and helps the healing. I also read Rian's challenge and I am so glad she likes her doctor.

gigi-hawaii said...

I am so sorry that you are in pain. Would a new, better bed help? I prefer a firm mattress. I was in pain myself due to extraction and dental implant, not to mention knee pain due to bad blood pressure meds. My dentist prescribed Tylenol with Codeine, which helped me sleep without pain. A wonderful pain killer, in my opinion.

Linda Reeder said...

I'm sorry you are in pain, but what I am focused on was that impromptu brunch you were treated to on Christmas day! What a sweet thing for your friend to do. It's also a good reminder for me of how many folks out there don't have family nearby to celebrate with, but create their new friend families and surround each other with love.
Hope you get better.

William Kendall said...

I hope the pain goes away quickly.

Elephant's Child said...

That brunch sounds like a wonderful treat. I do hope the staff also got a look in.
I am very, very sorry to hear about your pain, and hope (fervently) that the chiropractor can help.
Chronic pain outsucks Dyson.

Marie Smith said...

Sorry to hear of this latest setback, Jan. Give yourself time. You’ll get through this one too. I hope this time next week you’ll feel so much better. Happy New Year!

justme_alive said...

Sorry to hear you had fallen on your last hike. Sending feel better wishes your way.

Arkansas Patti said...

So glad you got to celebrate with your friends before injuring yourself. Ouch girl, that sounds awful. Glad you are going to see the chiropractor. I know mine did wonders for me. I need him now but he is in the hospital with kidney stones. That is bad when your doctor needs a doctor. Hope yours and the acupuncturist set you right again. Try to have patience and move as much as you can.

Alexandria said...

Hope you are feeling better soon and will be able to resume your activities.

Gigi said...

Ouch! I'm sorry to hear you are in pain! Not that I would know but I think moderate exercise might not hurt; but I'm currently in the take it easy camp until you are healed (as you know).

I hope you can get it into the chiropractor ASAP. Sending hugs.

Red said...

Sorry to hear about another fall. Us elderly can hurt ourselves in the simplest of falls. Anyway I hope that things settle down and that one of the treatments will help things. Then share what helps.

Far Side of Fifty said...

So sorry to hear you fell again. Do you have a pair of yak traks? I love mine they really make a difference for me. Here I think our boots get wet and then the bottoms are slick on icy surfaces. Hope you get some relief. Maybe a warm rice bag would help since you are more than 24 hrs after injury. Old people heal slower...it all takes time to recover...try a pillow or folded blanket between your knees:)

The Furry Gnome said...

Well, I hope you figure out and can deal with that pain soon. I certainly know what it's like to deal with ongoing pain, and it's not fun!

Linda Myers said...

Yuck about your back pain! I recently bought supportive shoes, custom orthotics, and a PT regimen. Slowly, slowly, I'm improving. Used to be a lot easier!

Rita said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear about another fall that has messed with you. Leah got me some really strong CBD oil and it takes the sharp edge off the constant pain and helps me sleep soooo much better. I usually just suffer during the day and take it before I go to bed.

I hope you can get into the chiropractor soon and you've got the acupuncturist appointment, too. I love that there's Netflix and Amazon so I always have something good to watch, too, since I haven't been able to do the physical stuff anymore for years.

Let us know how you are doing. Let's hope things get a lot better in 2020. :)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Happy New Year. I hope your back will get better after an adjustment. My experience has been they help a lot. Buddy is doing well with skin but his arthritic knee is bothering him. Pity he has to put up with so much.