Last Monday I threw my back out. We’re talking incapable of getting up, standing, walking or even sitting down without assistance and there was no such thing as a “comfy position”. It was the worst back pain of my life.
I was helpless and useless.
I couldn’t be a mom… couldn’t lift my toddler to hug her, change her, get her out of her crib… hell, I couldn’t even fix her a snack.
The first day the debilitating pain struck, both my husband and sister came to the rescue to help out since I was incapable of being left alone with my kids during the day when I’m normally alone with them.
Day 2 was my sister.
Day 3 my hubby.
Days 4 & 5, my son (yep, kept him home from school).
Let me just say, I HATE being helpless. I’m totally the “do it myself” person that has a really hard time asking for help. So yeah, this was basically my worst nightmare.
I broke down crying before calling my hubby to come home from work to help me (mostly because I felt guilty because he barely has any vacation time left and was supposed to be working OT that week). When he got stuck in major traffic on the way home to rescue me (I was stuck sitting on our uncomfortable couch that you can’t lay down on and desperately needed to get to our other couch to lay down, but was completely unable to get there) I was in so much pain and worried my toddler would need assistance I couldn’t give her (since I’d recently gotten my 5-year-old on the bus for 4K school and she wasn’t there to assist), I broke down again crying before texting my sister to see if she could get there sooner. I had anxiety and panicked over how to even ASK for her assistance because that’s how foreign the concept is to me!
As fate would have it, they basically arrived at the same time.
I had to be helped off the couch onto a rolling desk chair to make my way to the couch.
First, a stop off at the bathroom. Oh holy hell. So much pain I was wondering if it was worth going pee and thought about just holding it.
Standing hurt, *sitting* hurt (I’ve had back issues previously, but that was new)… leaning any which way I could, there was no relief from the pain to be found. It was like someone was stabbing me in my lower back and I couldn’t get the knife out.
Finally getting to the couch to lay down (with a LOT of assistance), gave me partial relief, but I was still in constant pain.
I learned very quickly that the adults I called on to help me were really there to take the place of what I would normally be doing as I watched them deal with the kids… snacks, clean-up, diaper changes, going outside, coming back in, more clean-up, pick up at the bus stop, naptime, etc.
I almost felt invisible on the couch and had to ask for everything.
I was so hungry when my sister & hubby arrived at almost 1pm that first day as I hadn’t eaten anything yet and barely had any water (no tea, no coffee either). Since I had to be laying down, I was limited to what I could eat.
I opted for a protein shake with a straw.
I had 2.
Hours later, a banana.
Let me tell you, there isn’t much you can eat *cleanly* while completely on your back!!!
I felt hungry most of the afternoon, but felt too guilty and like too much of an inconvenience to ask for anything more.
I also limited my water because I knew how painful it would be to have to get to the bathroom.
This is when I learned my first lesson.
I’ve spent years indulging myself simply because it was all too easy to get up and get it/make it myself, even if I didn’t need it at all.
For dinner my hubby ordered delivery food since I couldn’t cook and he was totally stressed trying to work from home, look after the kids and do things for me.
For this, I knew I needed a slightly more upright position to eat. This was HARD. I was SO uncomfortable, but also SO hungry by then.
He served me ½ a sub and 1 slice of pizza.
If it were up to me and I was capable, let’s be honest… that would have been the entire sub and maybe 2 slices of pizza.
In this circumstance, I yet again didn’t want to burden anyone. He came and took my plate away and didn’t ask if I wanted more, so I didn’t say anything.
More time passed and that’s when I realized I *was* satisfied with what I’d eaten. I didn’t actually need more.
A capable me would have rationalized that I hadn’t had that many calories all day and/or I “deserved” more food and I totally would have eaten more.
But being captive to the couch and completely unable to help myself, I went without and learned I could live without.
Another instance that sticks with me (ok, maybe not a “lesson” but still, a learning moment), is when my husband was helping me on/off the toilet. It was that particular instance that it occurred to me that this all would be so much easier for the both of us if I weighed much less than I do.
Let’s face it… in all likelihood, this could happen again. With my uneven hips and tendency to push too hard sometimes, I could have this happen again and when it does, do I want to be this big still? Hell no. It’d be so much easier on everyone if I wasn’t.
I’ve never really felt guilty for being overweight until that moment. Embarrassed, yes. Ashamed, yes. But guilty? Nope, not until then.
That moment keeps sticking with me (in a good way), leading me to better choices ever since.
So normally when people are incapacitated and laying on their back or sitting on their butts all day, they gain weight… not me! Totally the opposite and mostly because I hate asking for help! LOL
Here’s another lesson… at 3 am that first night, I almost called 911 because for the life of me I could NOT find a position to relieve the pain at all (after a recent trip to the bathroom by myself). I was crying and my lip quivering because of my discomfort and I had yet to get any sleep. I thought about what I should do first… call, then wake my hubby next to me? (Because of our noise machines, my crying didn’t wake him) Wake him first, see if we should skip the expense of an ambulance ride and have him drive me instead? Then I had a thought… what actually happens when you show up to the ER with back pain?
So I looked it up on my phone which was conveniently at my bedside. Turns out at least 95% of the people who go to the ER for back pain were dissatisfied with their result!!! Why? Because of the uncomfortable nature just to GET there (whether in a car or in an ambulance). The waiting and once you are seen, more waiting as the nurses check your vitals, poke and prod you, but you have to wait for the doctor to get any of those good drugs. And then what ultimately happens? They tell you to follow-up with your regular doctor.
It started to seem like a collosal waste of time and money to go the ER.
So then I started researching all my symptoms and methods of relief I should try (um, why hadn’t I done that earlier?) Turns out I was applying heat when I should have been icing… among other things.
But in the midst of this research, because I had awkwardly contorted my body in order to shield my sleeping hubby from the light from my phone, I suddenly realized that I had managed to lessen the pain!!! YAY! I *can* get some sleep and make it through the night!
With this new found relief and wisdom, I made it through and everything got better from there.
I’ve never been so happy I didn’t call 911.
So here I am, 5 days out from the worst of the worst and I managed a rather normally functional day.
I could get up, stand, walk, bend over (slooooooooooooooowly), sit down and even *carefully* lift/carry my 35 lb toddler again. I kept a back brace on most of the time and I find that very helpful.
Today I cooked, did the dishes, cleaned up, vacuumed, did bills, and even some laundry and managed a walk with the family. Damn near normal. I still have pain, but it’s hardly anything compared to where I was. (damn the human body is amazing)
I had taken everything for granted.
As I slowly regained certain abilities (like to stand up without help, sit and not have pain, walk without sharp pain, etc.) I was so thankful with each improvement.
After about 24 hours of staying in a laying down position, I was able to transition to sitting in my La-Z-boy recliner instead. Slowly, and with the aid of a cane, I could walk on my own again.
Something as simple as a bathroom trip felt like such an accomplishment when I could do it completely on my own! (let’s not even talk about the pain and awkwardness of wiping oneself when you have a back issue or being able to pull up your own pants when you’re done!)
When making that trip wasn’t so bad anymore (or at least tolerable), I could drink water more freely and rehydrated myself.
I iced, used lidocaine pain patches, electrotherapy pain relief and took lots and lots of Advil and I made it through.
It was a really tough and painful week (I haven’t even gone into the rejection my poor toddler felt when I couldn’t pick her up when she wanted me to and how sad that was to witness), but one I hope I don’t forgot anytime soon as two key things stay in the forefront of my mind and are driving me to really make some changes and get out of this rut.
Just the week before this happened I decided to go vegan. Yup, vegan. That couldn’t be anymore opposite of Keto if I tried! But animal products weren’t having the best result for me, intestinally speaking, so I knew I needed a change.
My digestive system has thanked me ever since!
Have I been full vegan this whole time? Clearly not since you know I had pizza. But I discovered that my diet in general has been sorely lacking in veggies for a LONG time. And can only eating plant-based foods keep me satisfied? Yup! I thought I was going to miss meat more than I did. Turns out I missed butter & cream the most! I didn’t have chicken for 2 weeks… that was a first in my entire adult life!
So mostly I try to have a vegan day now and then, or at least vegetarian (still like just a bit of cream in my coffee). I have upped my veggie amount EVERY day, regardless, and severely lowered animal proteins and have limited my dairy consumption.
This change got me considering alternatives I would have never tried if I hadn’t attempted to go vegan (like discovering cashew milk as a substitution for cream in my coffee… so glad I tried it!)
I feel so much healthier right now (even with the back pain still!)
I figured out (the hard way) that I indulge myself far too often and am actually capable of going without.
I am also re-inspired to make changes and get going in the right direction on this weight train.
It’s been a hell of a week.