Archive for the ‘My back’ Category

My friend ‘Soma’

March 27, 2009

Okay so my last post didn’t exactly explain how I ended up in physical therapy. It did bring the reader up to New Years Day, the day of my first blog entry. You will see from that entry that I was successful in completing a couple of stretches (recommended by the doc the day before as a way to ease my pain) in an effort to jump start my “New and Improved New Year’s Resolution’s Healthier and More Physically Fit Living Plan.”

Well, I have to say, the cortisone shot on Dec 31st worked like a charm to alleviate my back and buttock pain … um … for about five days, at which time it apparently dissolved completely out of my system and all the pain rushed back in like liquid lightening. Great… to which I then resorted to lifting nothing, no housework beyond dusting or wiping the kitchen table, I couldn’t bring in the milk, lift the trash or laundry basket, or change the cat litter, couldn’t bring in the groceries, couldn’t vacuum, pull the wet clothes out of the washer, or lift a skillet to make dinner … and was only able to function at all because of ingesting strategically timed doses of my new best (muscle relaxant) pill-friend, ‘Soma.’

But then after a few days into my relationship with ‘Soma’ I realized something was awry. My back and buttock pain had lessened but my brain kept thinking Soma thoughts, like, “it has been four hours since your last dose, you could go take another pill and see how you feel…”

Then I had a moment. I had exited our upstairs bedroom, and was nonchalantly descending the stairs toward the kitchen, and on about the fifth stair down a thought jumped into my head. I paused to consider this thought … or minor epiphany if you will, that I, Jody Caraher, had never been relaxed, not one single moment of my life, had never known a ‘relaxed’ state until I took this pill, which had now become my new best buddy, ‘Soma.’

Well wasn’t that spoken like a true addict! My goodness! That chemical had wormed it’s way into my brain and suddenly I was an incomplete person without it – deprived of the ability to achieve true relaxation in my natural state. Okay so I fidget constantly. My hands and my head are busy busy busy. I sit with my feet in a jiggle. I chew on my lower lip, especially when I’m not looking. But I don’t need this Soma to fix myself! I’m okay, albeit, a little high strung (okay, strung like a high-note piano wire). Nonetheless, thanks to my Soma moments, I do know what relaxed feels like. I can pause in the midst of my day, take in a couple of deep breaths, let myself go to my happy Soma place (this exercise might work best when standing next to the medicine cabinet) and relax. I can truly relax! Well, I’m not sure. But I can try.

I quit taking the Soma after some pondering over that little epiphany and hot footed it back to the doctor. He referred me for physical therapy two to three times per week. All told I had about 14 physical therapy sessions and my back is much better now. It keeps reminding me to exercise, like, right when I get up in the morning all achy and stiff. My butt pain creeps in too, like right now with me sitting at the computer.

My little friend Soma is on call (calling?) behind the mirrored door of our bathroom medicine cabinet. Just in case I … uh … play a rough game of ping pong or something.

And now that spring is here (yeah, spring in Idaho, where we awoke this morning to two fresh inches of snow with an expected ‘high’ of 34 degrees) I may have to forewarn my husband that, concerning summer and ‘yard work’, I may not able to rake, edge, lift the wheelbarrow, pull stubborn weeds, till, collect yard waste, transport soil, plants, or grass clippings, pull long hoses, or push the infamous lawn mower. Hey, as they say, hard work never hurt anyone but why take the chance?

Well, then again, I do have my little friend, Soma, stowed a mere arm’s reach away in the medicine cabinet …

Ping Pong vs. The Lawnmower

March 22, 2009

I guess I could go back to how I ended up in physical therapy for my back. Hmm … Well, it was on a Wednesday morning, Dec 31st, the morning of the last day of last year, and I was in the doctor’s office…

“So you were playing ping ball …” The nurse said flatly, scribbling notes across my chart. ‘NO!’ I protested. “I was playing Ping PONG!” (Although ping ball sounds like a game I could invent.) “So,” the nurse continued …”you were playing ping pong and …” I interjected, “And the next morning my right hip was killing me. Then the pain moved to my right buttock and leg, this all started 5 days ago and now the pain is so bad I can’t sleep.” Which was true.

The doctor arrived in the examination room and had me performing right leg lifts in all directions (thank goodness for jeans with built-in stretch-lycra) followed by x-rays of my lower back and right hip joint. The x-rays came back ‘fine.’ Oh great, I thought intuitively, this pain is all in my head…

“There must have been an injury to your lower back which is impeding on a nerve,” continued the doctor. “What you are experiencing is sciatic nerve pain. It can be hard to treat. What were you doing that could have caused this?”

Okay, so my younger sister (otherwise known as “Twitch”) and I had decided to play ping pong the previous Sat. night. We were at a party and they had a ping pong table in the basement. We remembered how we had played ping pong as kids. We were both terrible then, so we figured we’d be evenly matched now, which, sure enough, we were. Although, in retrospect, and I could be wrong about this because I am really bad at ping pong, but, I don’t think I sent her in as many divergent directions after my balls, and as often, as she sent me. Gees! I was proud of myself for the way I tailed her balls with such gusto … first, a ball with a hard bounce on her side, that soared high in the air through the hallway on my right, with me in hot pursuit. Then, the next ball ricocheting off the wall behind me and coming to rest after several haphazard bounces underneath the ping pong table, with me under the table in hot pursuit. I was frantically chasing, bending, crawling, and leaping after balls. Plus, my sister is nearly eight years younger than me.

Well anyway, I ended up in pretty good spirits to ring in the New Year after that doctor’s visit on Dec 31st. I arrived home with a cortisone shot in my right buttock, a 6-day prescription dose of prednisone, and 60-count prescription bottles of Soma (muscle relaxant) and Hydrocodone (pain reliever) with instructions on each bottle to take up to two pills every four hours as needed for relief. I had asked the doc if I could ingest full doses of both drugs together and he said yes. I then inquired, “Can I combine full doses of both drugs with alcohol?” (it being New Year’s Eve and all, and me having such a big pain) … to which he paused, threw me a surprised full-body glance, and said, “You don’t have to worry.” So, I didn’t (worry). I doused myself in muscle relaxants and pain killers and toasted the evening away into the New Year, awash in a level of joy and relaxation the likes of which I had never hitherto experienced. 2009 arrived very, very happily.

However, getting back to … uh … where was I? My back! Which, well, it’s entirely possible that I may have hurt it two weeks prior to my ping pong game, helping my husband pull the lawn mower up a flight of stairs to get it out of the basement. Yep. There he was in the basement at the bottom of the stairs, engine side, barking out orders,¬† pushing the engine upward, channeling Hercules, his head bursting with blood – while I was positioned on the stairs above the mower, my hands wrapped around the handle, pulling with all my feathery might- with my arms, my back, my legs, my knees, my ankles, my armpits, my eyeballs… The mower clunked, heaved, and dragged like a house up one excruciating step, and then, quite miraculously, another, until we managed to get the thing up all thirteen stairs. I didn’t hear a ‘pop’ or anything coming from my back at the time, but it sure did hurt like the dickens after I was done, and the rest of that day, and the next day too.

All I can say is, the next time my husband decides to repair outdoor machinery during an Idaho December deep-freeze, I’m going to suggest he install a mammoth furnace in the garage. Because I pretty much think pulling the lawnmower up those thirteen stairs¬† out of the basement might be what hurt my back.

And the next time my younger sister and I are at a party where they have a ping pong table, we’d better not play, or at least, I’d better have lots of muscle relaxants and pain killers on hand in my medicine cabinet for the morning after I chase down all those wayward balls.

The Cream Puff Pom Pom Exerciser

March 16, 2009

I should be writing about my exercising since that is what I am supposed to be doing every day for my back. It’s not much, just about a fifteen-minute routine of press-ups, pelvic curls, crunches, Russian twists, leg lifts, wall squats, a veritable smorgasbord. Stretches of all sorts are good too, deep fried and then sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Not to forget to mention the “I-HATE-you” exercise where you start out face down, stomach on the ball, feet pressed against a wall. On “I” you lift your chest and head upward until your torso feels like it might snap off at your waist, that’s the cue to yell “HATE,” and then back down again on ‘you.’ Repeat “I HATE you” twenty times to your therapist or anyone within earshot (except not at your husband when it’s before dinner and he’s trying to watch ‘Jeopardy’ or the news, I found out) until you feel really great that you survived the whole thing without snapping in half.

Okay so I am not an exercise buff. Although I have exercised enough to graduate from physical therapy, on account of I showed up for 14 therapy sessions over a period of about eight weeks. I promised my physical therapist upon my relapse, er … release, that I would do my exercises regularly. Luckily she doesn’t live with me, albeit she is haunting me in my sleep.

I do actually exercise, especially if my back or butt is killing me or I feel too stiff to get out of my chair, or if I just happen to be on my back on the carpet in front of the flat-screen T.V. and I think to do some pelvic lifts while I’m there.

I day dream a lot about exercising, like when I’m driving in my car toward the mall and I think, “Oh, when I get home after shopping and errands, if it’s not too late, I will exercise before I get started making dinner.” My ‘virtual’ exercise plan is quite a good one, way imaginative and ambitious, I swear I can nearly stretch my head and extremities up to the ceiling.

If I could only figure out how to make myself exercise in my sleep dreams I’d wake up feeling athletic and a habitual exerciser, I’m pretty sure, and I would, as a matter of extension, just keep on exercising throughout my day. Not a bad plan! I mean …uh… too bad for this plan, since my subconscious mind seems hellbent to conjure up mental garbage in my sleep, utterly worthless in regards to enhancing my conscious life. Darn it! Because I think exercising in my sleep could be a real boon.

And if I had been in sports as a kid, that might have been a help too. Well, I probably would have hated it then, but maybe it would be better for me now. I did go out for cheerleader and got on the squad for, um, a year in High School. I bragged about that to my husband trying to impress him with my athleticism in response to his telling me he did ‘track.’ He informed me quite matter-of-factly that cheerleading is not a ‘sport.’ Well, I gleefully corrected him on that a few weeks ago with the appearance of this news article in the press: … about cheerleading being declared a contact sport in Wisconsin, to which he responded, “Not you – forty years ago.” Okay so I admit, back then we did jumps and cartwheels and a lot of yelling and stuff – I guess cheerleading has evolved some in four decades. One thing I can say, though, I’m still a pretty good yeller, having maintained this skill throughout my 28 years as a wife and mother (just kidding).

And I’m still pretty much a cream puff pom pom exerciser. But, yeah, I’m gonna exercise, at least, that’s my plan.