Stop The World, I Need To Get Off!
I try and write a little blog about once a month. I'm normally super busy, so it's not always possible...
That is, I was super busy. Until 7th February, when the Universe, and my back, had other ideas for me!
I've been struggling on and off for years and years with a bad back. I put it down to a couple of things... childbirth being one, and a failed epidural and two spinal blocks (all during or after the birthing process) being the other. There's no proof to say it's down to any of those things, but I've suffered. Lower back, left hand side. Always the same. It would 'go' in the most obscure and often bizarre situations, normally through just twisting or reaching, and I'd walk around like an S-bend for a few days until it settled.
18 years ago, I discovered a brilliant Chiropractor, and then a couple of years ago, discovered a brilliant Physiotherapist, and with their support, I've been managing the symptoms of my back. Historically, I'd go and see the Chiro when my back would 'go' and fortunately, through working with the Physio more recently, found it 'going' less and less.
I also did research and I noticed patterns. I noticed that it would 'go' at a particular time in the month, and when I did my reserach, I found that this was the time that my levels of oestrogen were naturally dropping, and the levels of relaxin in my body were naturally increasing. For most ladies, this happens when the body is getting ready to shed its womb lining, just before her period arrives. It also happens during pregnancy, allowing the ligaments to become more loose and lax, in order to accommodate a growing baby. The thing with relaxin is that it loosens the ligaments in other parts of the body too, but mostly the pelvis, the lower back and the knees.
In early February this year, when my back started feeling sore, I went to see the Physio, thinking nothing more of it. I had a treatment and he told me to see how it went, and to go back if it didn't settle down by the end of the week. I woke up 2 days later and found it to be really sore. Knowing what I needed to do, I went downstairs, took a bag of peas from the freezer, and just before I lay on my front and popped the bag of peas on my back, I thought "I'll just empty the washing machine" and as I crouched down...BANG, my back went. The excruciating pain flung me across the floor and I was unable to do anything other than holler. No position was comfortable, and I can only liken it to the feelings of an electric shock. This was at 6.30am, and to cut a very long story short, I ended up spending the day in the A&E Department of our local hospital, dressed in grey, brushed cotton, leopard print pyjamas, a grey, fleece, Tinkerbell dressing gown, odd socks and Adidas trainers. I didn't care how I looked. I didn't care about anything. I was in severe, unrelenting pain.
It transpired that a disc had herniated into my spine and the pain I was experiencing down my left leg and into my foot was from severe cord compression, which was irritating the sciatic nerve. I'd 'slipped a disc' as they used to say. It's also known as a prolapsed disc, apparently. Whatever you want to call it, it was the most severe, unrelenting, uncontrollable pain I've ever experienced, and I've delivered two massive babies!
So what was the prognosis at the hospital?
Well apparently, in 80% of cases, the body cleverly absorbs the disc matter that has herniated, and no further treatment is necessary, although this can take up to 6 weeks (or as I found out later, up to 12 weeks). Imagine my joy at the hospital, when they told me to expect this level of pain for up to 6 weeks!!! They prescribed me with some pretty powerful drugs and I went home, in some level of shock, and still in debilitating, unrelenting pain.
For the other 20% of people, treatment might involve an injection, or ultimately, surgery to remove the disc matter from the spine.
For the first time in my life, I couldn't do anything, except lie in bed, or on the floor. Every movement I made had to be calculated. I couldn't cough or sneeze without crying out in pain and my life became split into chunks of time between medications. I was taking so much medication that I had to document it and set alarms so I knew what to take and when. To be fair, this probably kept me sane, because I had seemingly lost control of everything else, and for someone as controlled and controlling as me, that was pretty tough to accept, so micro-managing medication was probably good for me!
There were times, mostly at night, when I was desperately tired, but couldn't sleep, because I couldn't get comfortable, or the painkillers had worn off and I was waiting for the next lot to kick in, that I wondered if I would ever have any sort of life again. I would say that the nights were probably the most difficult. In fact, I stopped trying to have a daytime or night-time routine. I just slept when I needed to, as I knew that I'd be awake every hour or so with pain.
I turned all of my energy inwards as the only way to get through what was happening to me. I cut almost all communication with everyone; I virtually turned off my mobile phone, and I just went into myself to begin my recovery. At times, the silence was deafening, but as I got used to it, I began to enjoy the stillness in my head and in my world.
Hence, no blog was written, because everything stopped. All of my clients were brilliant, which is just lovely when you only know people professionally, but they have all been very loyal and said they would wait until I had recovered and then come back to me. I also have a wonderful support network of people offering to help me - if only I would let them!
I'm a great believer in the Universal Law of Attraction and how the Universe gives you exactly what you need. Often, this isn't necessarily what you want. My life had become too busy. I've always been busy, but I was literally running about from clinic to clinic, dashing between Derby and London, and not getting home on a Friday night until midnight or 1am. Trying to have a life in between all of that was becoming increasingly difficult. I was neglecting those that I care for deeply, but mostly, I was neglecting myself, and my own physical and mental wellbeing.
I'm also a great believer in the Mind-Body connection. We carry the weight of our responsibilities in the bottom of our backs, and more specifically, a herniated disc is about feeling pressured.
The Universe obviously decided that enough was enough and literally pulled the rug out from under my feet. I needed to stop, which I did, because I had no choice. I also had to accept help, which I did, and which was a challenge for me, but above all, I had to take care of myself before caring for anyone else. I had to put myself first, which I don't know if I have ever done before. I have had to take a serious look at my life, and make some changes. Changes which are still evolving, but changes that I feel sure will be good for me.
And that's where I'm at! Today, 12 weeks in, and I can sit at my desk and write, for the first time in 3 months, which is really quite an achievement. I can't sit here for long, because I get back ache quickly, and the nerve down my leg and into my foot is still severely compressed, but I can do small things, which I am eternally grateful for. I have a set of exercises that the Physio has given me, to start to strengthen my foot and my calf, which have weakened considerably, but I seem to be heading in the right direction. Hopefully, I'm going to be in the 80% that recover on their own, without the need for surgical intervention, but I'm not out of the woods yet.
My advice, if you're reading this and you regularly put yourself at the bottom of the pile, is please begin to put yourself first, even if it's just in small ways. Care for yourself and nurture yourself in the way that you would care for the most precious thing in your entire world, because as I've found, you can't take your body, your health or your wellbeing for granted, as the rug could be pulled from under your feet at any moment!