I stretched across the tub, the smell of Soft Scrub burning my nose as I scritch-scrubed the bottom of the bath. Cyra gurgled and cooed from her bouncy chair in the living room.
“Almost done, sweetie,” I called as she banged her hands against a tiny piano plinking out a cacophony of notes.
I leaned on the edge of the bathtub and gave one last swipe of the sponge. As I stood and straightened my back out, I heard and felt my lower back pop. For a split second, I thought it was just the typical crack of the joints but as I fell back down I realized just how very wrong I was.
Stabbing, shooting pain arched down my legs as I tried to stand again. I pushed myself up using first the edge of the tub, then the toilet seat and finally the sink. I tried straightening again and more spears of pain lanced down my legs.
I groaned holding onto the sink while Cyra started to fuss and cry from the other room.
“Hold on Peanut,” I clenched my teeth to keep from screaming.
Grabbing the doorframe, the counters and walls, I made it into the living room and collapsed to my knees next to Cyra. She giggled, thinking I was playing with her. I tried to lift her from her play chair but nearly dropped her as my back shuddered.
“I’ve dealt with worse pain,” I told myself. “Labor. Labor hurt more than this.” I pushed myself up. “Blood clots in my lungs hurt more than this.” I stood, rolling my spine, easing upright.
I managed a smile at Cyra. “Nothing else comes to mind.”
She giggled and I gritted my teeth as I bent and lifted her from her chair. I managed to shamble into her bedroom, change her diaper and set her down with some toys all while sweating and holding back a plethora of curses.
By the time Scott go home I was more than ready to have my spine surgically removed and robotic one grafted in its place. Scott got me to the doctor and after an insane amount of simple questions, I was told the trouble was most likely my sciatic nerve and there was nothing they could do for it except pain relief.
“Are you kidding me?” I asked my doctor. “Nothing?”
“No,” he said, “This will just heal on its own. Eventually.”
And it did. But it took nearly six weeks of daily pain for it to do so.
Every now and then over the past nine years, my lower back tells me in no uncertain terms that it is pissed off beyond reason at me. I could be doing dishes, sweeping the floor, working on a craft project, standing still and then a small pop from my lower back shoots spasms of pain down my legs and I am hunched over gasping for breath because of it.
A little over two weeks ago, as I was cleaning the living room, my back exacted revenge for some small insult (I think I was vacuuming too vigorously) and wham. I was benched. For what ever reason though, this time, it was slightly different and instead of a week of inconvenient pain followed by a few weeks of taking it easy, I struggled for two weeks without any sign of improvement. I couldn’t sit at the computer. I could lie on the couch. It hurt less when I was up and moving, so I walked around a lot. Paced really.
I felt okay enough to spend the 4th of July downtown with the girls, but a fall on the sidewalk on the way back to the car (stupid uneven concrete) had me in bed for most of the following day. I finally had enough on Friday when I couldn’t even sit to pee without crying and I took myself off to the doctor.
This time around, probably because I went to the ER since my doctor closes early on Fridays, I got the good stuff. While I was waiting to be taken for x-rays, the nurse brought in a shot to help with the pain. I pushed up my sleeve and she just smiled and shook her head.
“Do you want to lie down for this,” she smiled “or just bend over?”
“In my butt?” I frowned at her and covered my tush with my hands.
She nodded and smiled, her head cocked sympathetically. “I’m afraid so.”
Oh it might have stung going in, but Holy Moly did I start to feel better almost immediately.
The x-rays came back clear – no break or fracture - just some minor arthritis. Since nerve damage can’t be seen on a normal x-ray they handed me a stack of prescriptions and sent me out to door with a recommendation to follow-up with an orthopedic doctor in a few weeks if the symptoms don’t lessen.
After three days following a medicine regiment of steroids, muscle relaxers and mega-ibuprofen, I feel much better and best of all I can bend! Ignore for a moment that everything is fuzzy, wonky and slightly tilted. And I am nauseous. Ignore for a moment that as a general rule I really don’t like taking medicine. Ignore for a moment that I wouldn’t trust myself behind the wheel of a car. Or on a bike. Or walking down stairs.
Ignore all that and I am left with the oft taken for granted ability to bend. Freely and without hesitation. And that my friends, makes all the difference.