Expat Magazine

Things I Can't Do at the Moment

By Expatmum @tonihargis
I've had minor back problems for a number of years now and I finally went to an orthopedic doctor in November. He took an x-ray and found that my lowest two vertebrae are quite close together and the "gel" in between is a bit crap diminished, to say the least. He prescribed 8 visits to a Physical Therapist to show me the correct exercises to help things. (In many cases you have to have a prescription so that your health insurance doesn't kick it out.)

Can't say that the exercises were making that much difference since they were exercises I already do anyway but I did have a few heat treatments. Anyway, over the Xmas break I caught the annual bad cold and sinus infection and spent almost three days in bed. When I finally got up, the sciatic nerve down my right leg was causing a lot of pain (I'm talking an 8 out of 10) and very very limited movement. Had to take a lot of pain killer/anti-inflammatory pills to get it under control. Wine also helped but somehow it didn't seem right at 8 in the morning. 

When I got back to Chicago we had to devise a different Physical Therapy treatment plan, although it being nerve rather than muscle pain it really hasn't had much of an impact. If you haven't had sciatica a) it's pretty painful, b) it really limits what you can do (see below) and c) it's like there's a piece of elastic or string from your lower back to behind your knee (in my case) which isn't long enough. Imagine trying to bend over, or stretch out your leg when it's attached to a string that gives off a huge electric shock if pulled too much. Yes, that. 

I have another appointment with the orthopedic guy in a few weeks and we will be doing an MRI. In the meantime my regular doctor (who I called after hours) gave me some stronger anti-inflammatory tablets and a muscle relaxant that she advised not to take unless I was going to bed. I have given those a miss so far as there's no pain once I'm actually on my back. That really has to be seen - I'm supposed to sit down then collapse sideways, but since that is also painful I just end up flinging myself towards the Ball & Chain and holding my breath to cope with the pain. I have pain when I'm up and moving about but I also need to be functioning. Plus, I don't like feeling fuzzy. (I'd be a pretty rubbish drug addict I think). 

So - without the anti-inflammatory first thing in the morning I can't - 

- get out of bed without rolling onto my stomach and sort of backing off the bed. Again, has to be seen really. 

- walk without pain.
- rinse after brushing my teeth. Slightest bend of the neck causes the nerve to go off. I may end up with fluoride poisoning as I just end up rinsing and swallowing.
- put any clothes on on my lower half. To get my underwear on I have to drop them on the floor, pick them up with one foot, step into them and somehow pull them up to knee height with my foot, after which I can bend sideways a bit and grab hold of them. Good job I have really long arms. (Too much info, I realize.)
- sit down. Agony. I have to fall onto the chair and just deal with the pain.
- feed the dog. Can't bend down to get the bowls. I tried a sort of curtsey movement but that is still really painful. 
- empty the dishwasher. (Hooray.)

I could go on but you get the drift. I pity anyone who has to put up with this type of pain permanently. No wonder people get more curmudgeonly as they age. 

Things I can't do at the moment

I'm going to be a complete bitch by the time I'm 70 if not before. 

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