Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coming Back

In my previous blog (Laid Back), I reported on my lingering back pain triggered by an intemperate bout of improper lifting the first weekend in October.

Yesterday, at the encouragement of my doctor and my wife, I had a CT scan done of my abdomen—mainly to check for the possibility of more serous complications, including kidney stones or worse, cancer. Happily, I have neither. Whew! This was definitely a case of no news being good news.

Other than a simple benign cyst (1 cm in diameter) on my right kidney (which is apparently common as people grow older—something I am wholly prone to), all I have is back pain. While that's complicated and debilitating enough, it's a relief to know that's "all" I'm trying to recover from.

The main problem is getting ahead of a vicious negative bio-feedback loop. In response to the original strain I've been involuntarily holding myself rigid to protect myself from re-injuring, or even tweaking, the muscles in my lower back (just above the hips and coccyx). After a couple of weeks of that I started experiencing secondary pain as my defensive muscles got tired of being on duty all the time, to the point where the secondary pain was equal to or greater than the original pain.

While my body has not yet recovered from the original trauma (read no sit-ups) and it's too early to start physical therapy to rebuild strength and resiliency, I'm going through cycles of secondary pain as all the muscles in and around my abdomen have been taking turns filing complaints with my central nervous system.

The only position I can be in with no pain at all is flat on my back, but staying in bed all day drives me nuts, and I don't want my muscles to completely atrophy. So each day I get up and try moving around a little (with my engine set at "all ahead slow")—going to the bathroom, getting a bite to eat, refilling my water jug, recharging my laptop, etc. (I am getting a lot reading done.)

When I walk more than 100 feet, however, the intercostal muscles at the lower end on my rib cage start to spasm, even when I have 10 mg of cyclobenzaprine on board, a prescription muscle relaxant. Thus, even with careful, minimal movement and no lifting I invariably clench the very muscles that I'm trying to calm. So I have a ways to go yet.

The good news is that after canceling my planned trip to New England (that was supposed to start today), I have no trips planned until Jan 13, which gives me six glorious weeks in which to come back all the way. And there's no better place to have this occur than at home, where Ma'ikwe can play Florence Nightengale and I can learn to type propped up at a 15-degree angle.

While I've never been very patient with being a patient, apparently that's the lesson I'm working on right now.

No comments: