It’s not nice. I know people suffer a lot worse things in their lives but sometimes it’s hard to gain perspective. It might help if I listened, if I’d actually started what was recommended straight away instead of employing my normal tactic and carrying on regardless. It seems like it will never go, like I’ll have this for the rest of my life but that is a pretty irrational thought. It’s hard not being able to do the things you love.
Being in a situation I’ve never been in, it’s hard to grasp some perspective to understand it may only be a few weeks of rest and then everything will be right again. Instead I sit there and wonder if my life will ever be the same again. Will I ever be able to run? Will I ever be able to go to the gym? Will I ever be able to cycle to work?
Physical problems are very much mental problems as well, if that condition robs you of something you’re good at and something that gives you confidence in life when everything else doesn’t seem to be going your way. It’s something that regulates my weight without me having to try too much. After losing 25kg a few years ago I’m extremely conscious never to put that back on and I’ve successfully managed this for the last few years.
It’s strange, the thought of it takes me back, takes me back to when I was a child, I remember my father complaining about his back. I can remember him lying down on a piece of wood, I can remember him in agony. I couldn’t tell you what age I was, most of my childhood memories appear like dreams to me popping in and out of the clouds. I rarely remember sounds or words said, rather snapshots, like photos of certain times that current events prompt. I remember feeling how those snapshots made me feel. I remember feeling my father’s anger, I’m unsure if it was at the people around him or just at his body. Disappointingly I can’t remember how long it went on for, but I know he hasn’t complaining of his back for many years so in that I see hope.
It’s not really the same either, he was in agony. This has never made me feel like that, it’s just something niggly in my back that doesn’t feel quite right. That’s painful, although not excruciating, it comes on when I make certain movements. In fact I could go through the majority of a day if I’m distracted with other stuff and not feel it at all. I think the thought is that the injury was done a few weeks ago and the pain I’m getting now is in some way to do with me over compensating for the injury.
I’m told to reduce all exercise, from cycling, running, gym and even walking. After a week or two of false dawns I’m nearly there. In my usual crazy way, when I was first told, I thought I knew better. Her advice to catch the train instead of cycle to work seemed silly to me. The ride is only 20 minutes, I don’t carry much weight and the trains I normally get on mean I have to push my way on and stand cramped for the whole journey. Saying that, the whole journey is only 10 minutes. After believing I’d made the right decision and my back was coming right, towards the latter end of the week a trip to the theatre and a couple of hours in a seat put me right back to square one the next day and so I decided I better follow the advice to the letter.
The only thing I’m really struggling with doing now is reducing the walking. It’s so much ingrained in me. Having never really driven, my legs have always been the way I get around. I’d think nothing of a 45 minute walk to get somewhere and would prefer it to sitting in a car (whether as a passenger or driver) for 10 minutes. I see it as a very incidental type of exercise and one I enjoy. A walking pace allows you to see things you’d just never see from a car, maybe a new restaurant or café, a shop selling some strange wares, or a piece of art that hides round the corner that you’d never lay your eyes on. I’m hoping, probably rather crazily, that I can keep at least a moderate amount of walking up if I trade off everything else. It may well be the last thing keeping me sane in this period when I’m unable to do any other sort of exercise.
I’m tired of taking painkillers too. Yesterday was the first day I actually decided I’d take none and in all honesty it was one of my better days. I understand the theory that they reduce inflammation and allow me to operate my back as normal, but the truth is I feel the pain through the painkillers anyway so can’t at the moment see the point. I’ve never been one to take medicine unnecessarily. My thought has always been when I do need them they will have a significantly reduced effect if I’ve been using them for minor things.
One thing that does seem to have worked and filled a desire within me to exercise is the back exercises I was given. Who would have thought that I’d love doing planks? Certainly not me. They have gone from being one of my least favourite exercises at the gym to probably my favourite. I suppose they appeal to my competitive edge, me versus the clock, how long can I hold it for? And they seem to have loosened things up for me too. I certainly feel better and more flexible for doing them. Maybe I can be a planking Olympic champion? Although I’m not sure my current record of 90 seconds is going to put me in medal contention.
And so I carry on. Day after day I wake up, think it’s gone, only to turn round sharply and feel the twinge of pain in my back. Reason would tell me that this is just a temporary thing and I need to be patient. But when has patience ever been one of my virtues? I suppose the great thing about things like this, and there are always positives to every situation, is that it may well teach me patience, it’ll help me find enjoyment in other things and if it happens again I’ll know how to deal with it.