Friday, July 1, 2016

So, I'm back.

Somehow, on June 1, I REALLY injured my back. I'd gone walking across the Lorain-Carnegie bridge here in Cleveland (the "Bob Hope Bridge") taking photos. My lower back hurt a little, which is does sometimes, but it was nothing really bad. I even sat down some after I crossed the bridge, before I walked back to my car. June 2, I took it easy at home -- processing photos, watching TV, sleeping. My back hurt like the day before, but nothing bad. Same deal on June 3.

Then, on June 4, I woke up in the morning barely able to stand. My lower back was in so much pain, I cried out while trying to stand. I couldn't stand, either: Getting out of bed, I had to use the wall and slowly "climb" up the wall using my hands on the door frame to get upright. Oddly, so long as I was on my side in bed (and I sleep on my side), I felt no pain. But if I sat, or if I stood, the pain was excruciating. Massive amounts of ibuprofen did nothing to help.

On June 5, I went to urgent care. I saw a Nurse Practitioner, who said that I had strained a tendon in my lower back. Unlike a muscle strain, tendon strains are much more severe, hurt a lot more, and take longer to heal. She prescribed two days of bed-rest, use of a heating pad as much as I could stand, muscle relaxants, and 1,000 mg of ibuprofen every 12 hours.

After five days, my back was improved by 50 percent. Most of the stabbing pain and muscle spasms were gone, but I still could not sit for more than a few minutes at a time. If I stood for more than a minute or so, my left leg would feel numb. Walking for more than a hundred yards also caused my left leg to feel numb.

I went back to urgent care, and a physician told me that I needed to keep applying heat. One hour of heat, followed by two to three hours of sitting. I also had to use a pillow or towel to support my lower back whenever I sat, and I had to stay out of any chair that caused me discomfort. That meant my office chair. My upright, padded, straightback dining-room chairs and my couches were the only places I could sit.

After another week, I was 50 percent better. But I still had a constant level of backache, and moving from a sitting to a standing position meant a lot of pain, groaning, and even clutching at the door frame to help me get upright. I saw my personal physician this time (it takes forever to get an appointment around Cleveland), and he prescribed a number of back stretching exercises (yoga cat, yoga camel, hamstring stretches) to help. He believed that my problem now was caused by a lack of movement. My back was healing well, but the tendon and surrounding muscles were so tight I was re-injuring myself in small ways and not healing in others.

THIRTY DAYS. It took 30 days for me to heal enough to be able to sit for an hour or two at my keyboard.

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