Welcome to the disappointing conclusion of my two-part, ouch-my-back-hurts, blog series. When I started writing this feature way back in September of 2015, I honestly wasn’t sure how it would conclude. I certainly had hopes for a happy Part Two, where all my back pain had miraculously vanished and I’d be whistling rainbows or dancing with unicorns or [insert some other odd, positive imagery here]. But alas, that is not the case.
But that does not mean I am wholly without an update today. I’m sure after last week, you’re simply sitting on the edge of your driver’s seat (oblivious to the fact that half your tires are rumbling on the shoulder) anxious to know just one thing: is he gonna be all right? Well, I have four words for you: hashtag it can wait. Put the phone down and read this when you get to work.
You at work now? Okay, now I’ll continue.
We resume by returning to my back pain role model, Pryon Pinson. As you might imagine, I was not in the least bit surprised when I received an email from him shortly after posting Part One. When I saw the reply in my inbox, I eagerly double-clicked the subject line, wanting to see what high praise he had for my writing and/or if he had a few pain management “life hacks” to share.
“How is your back?” Pryon opened.
“Um, it hurts. You read my blog post, right?” I replied.
“Actually, no. I was busy researching traditional Uzbekistan stringed instruments for my next album,” Pryon rejoined.
“You were looking at cat pictures, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” Pryon admitted sheepishly.
Okay, only that first line is real. This blog wouldn’t be what it is today if I didn’t embellish a little here and there. You call it “lying.” I call it “blogger’s license.”
In all seriousness, though, having been afflicted with chronic lower-backium torumentus for so long, Pryon immediately offered up an array of suggestions to help deal with my own pain. I’d like to go through them one by one:
“I recommend a well referred physical therapist.”
I have not done any PT, per se, but I have visited the chiropractor three times now. Each visit typically goes like this:
“How is your back?” she inquires.
“Um, it hurts. You read my blog post, right?”
“Nobody reads your blog posts, dear. Lie down and put your face in that hole.”
*rub* *bend* *crack* *squeeze* *pop*
“There, how’s that?”
“Feels great!” I say truthfully. Sadly, the feeling only lasts maybe an hour or two and there goes another thirty bucks. Boy I tell you, if she could crack, squeeze, and pop me into feeling good for a whole month, I’d gladly pay thirty-five for it.
Daily movement throughout the day (one place for long uninterrupted periods is the adversary – dries out disk – movement pumps moisture in which is what you want)
I am good at this. I’ve even started keeping a little chart with a twofold purpose: 1) to motivate me to get up and get out of my chair periodically, and 2) to track said out-of-chair excursions. I work in an industry that encourages, nay, demands that I stay seated for upwards of fifteen hours each day. So I really do have to go out of my way to make sure I move around for a few minutes, at least every hour or two.
Lots of fluids.
I am also good at this. My go-to drinks are water and tea (either iced or hot, depending on whether I’m about to eat a huge bag of potato chips or seventeen Double-Stuf Golden Oreos). And let me tell you, when you drink a half a gallon of water throughout the day, you don’t need some stupid little chart to get you out of your chair.
How you sleep is important. Get one of those body pillows and sleep on your side with a small head pillow. Knees and angles on the body pillow. Spine straight all the way through to the neck and head.
I kind of do this. I frequently sleep on my (right) side and put a pillow between my knees. That said, I’m typically left without a pillow for my head. While that sounds uncomfortable, it really isn’t, considering the twenty inch thick layer of foam and padding coating the mattress.
And then when you are feeling better… Walking, walking, walking is great.
If I’ve never been anything else, I’ve been a walker. From the first time I could stand, to the first time I could walk the Chicago Marathon all by myself, to the time yesterday when I walked from my cube to the printer, I’ve always enjoyed swinging my legs back and forth while upright. Perhaps my greatest walking achievement ever was the time back in 2006 when I imagined myself walking the Pacific Crest Trail. Man, that was a great trip.
After reading through Pryon’s advice, and pondering my own next steps, I decided to follow up with a quick phone call.
“Great list,” I began. “So you all these things?”
“I do!” he replied proudly.
“Every day?” I asked.
“And how’s your back?”
“Um . . . I gotta go check on those cat pictures.”
Aw man, don’t worry. We’ll figure this out. A little kitten hanging from a tree limb told me so.