Monday, December 5, 2011

In which I tweak my back

Thanksgiving morning I was in a great mood.

I had just returned home from a 5K, which I PR'd, thankyouverymuch.

I was getting Thanksgiving dinner ready and excited to start the day. My son walked into the kitchen. He's so friggin cute, he came over and gave me a hug. So I picked up him, stayed standing straight and arms extended lifted his 40 lbs up and down a bit. He laughed, I put him down and went on my merry way.

Then, about a half-hour later, I felt my lower back begin to protest. As the day went on, it got worse and I knew I absolutely tweaked it. Then it hit me, when I was lifting up my son, I didn't use or bend my legs. Guh, stupid.

I first screwed up my lower back about 10-11 years ago. Nothing traumatic, but a combination of obesity and weak muscles led me to laying incapacitated on the living room couch in tears. Ever since, it's gone rogue 1-2 times a year, always after something embarrassingly innocuous, like getting off the couch, picking up a towel off the bathroom floor, etc.

The last time I tweaked it was right before my birthday in September and I still have no idea what I did to cause that one.

Ironically, in the dozens and dozens of hours of bootcamp and hundreds of miles of running I've done this year, I have never injured myself. And in bootcamp, there is some wacky shit going down. But our trainer is hyper-focused on form and always making sure we're doing things correctly.

Which means, Paul, I basically need you to come move in and ensure I go about my daily life without physically being an idiot. Our couch is super-comfy, you'll love it.

To recap, I don't get injured running, jumping, hopping or doing any number of crazy body-weight exercises, but I do hurt myself walking through a parking lot and picking up my son. Good to know.

Anyway, once my lower back is tweaked, I'm screwed for 4-5 days. I iced it for 24 hours, then moved on to Icy Hot patches, hot showers, heating pads and 600 mg of Advil a day.

I had to miss bootcamp the day after Thanksgiving and that pissed me off. But by Sunday, I felt things were progressing where I could work out a bit, so Sunday and Monday, I did 60 minutes each day on the elliptical. It felt OK, at least I knew I was doing any further damage.

But I was still super stiff getting up in the morning and it hurt when I took a deep breath. Forget about sneezing or hiccuping - agony.

It was still a bit balky on Tuesday, so my husband suggested I call the massage therapist, who worked me over that night and truly helped me out. She said I was all twisted up in my sacrum and the knots and trouble radiated all the way up my back, primarily on my right side.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling decent enough for bootcamp, so I went and did my best, modifying where I needed to. On Thursday, I felt good enough to run, so I went to the gym and did 30 minutes on the treadmill. My lower back was still a little stiff, but felt OK before, during and after running.

Friday I went back to bootcamp again and had a good class, felt almost completely normal. Saturday was a rest day, thankfully, and Sunday I had my last 5K of the year.

At this point, you may be wondering, "Why can't you just take the week off and not work out?" I'm at the point now where I honestly want to work out. If it's a workout day and I can work out, I want to. And if I don't, I am just not right all day.

Being injured only makes me want to get healthy as soon as possible and get back to sweating. It's so weird. I used to hear people say things like, "If I don't work out, I'm off all day" and I'd think, Pffft, riiiight. But I get it now. I never, ever expected this, to suffer from this particular issue of loving exercise too much.

The combination of feeling good after my Thursday treadmill run (which I know is not the same physically as running on pavement) and the general feeling of my back led me to the decision that yes, I could run that 5K Sunday. I made a deal with myself: If I feel poor during the race, I would walk.

I got up Sunday morning and felt...normal. Normal! Yay! Race day!

So I ran Sunday and ran fast. The course was flat, the weather was perfect. I was running fast and feeling excellent. No pain, all gain.

I came home all happy and then...a few hours lower back was waving up at me with one finger. Aw, crap.

I woke up this morning right back where I started from on Thanksgiving. Super stiff and in great discomfort. As in, can't lean or bend over to tie my toes discomfort.

Complicating things is my official Weight Watchers Hey-This-One-Counts weigh-in is tomorrow. I worked 5 weeks to get that number and I'm not chucking it now by taking any ibuprofen, which causes me to retain water like a pool.

Either you get this decision or you don't and I'm OK if you don't. You're either, like, "Yes, I would suffer for 24 hours, too" or "This woman should be committed."

My husband, the voice of reason (and a person probably really sick of me smelling like a giant menthol cough drop) noted, "You really should go to the doctor."

And he was right, while there's nothing to easily or really fix this issue, they can give me some awesome drugs that I can start enjoying after weigh-in tomorrow.

I got an appointment with my nurse practitioner and she confirmed it is a back spasm, told me to lay-off high-intensity exercise until I felt better and wrote me a nifty prescription for Flexerol and big-ass Ibuprofen (the latter of which I will be bringing with me to my WW meeting and will pop as soon as I step off the scale).

While talking to the NP, I noted the irony of getting hurt doing everyday junk yet not when working out very hard:

"I thought being a healthy weight and greatly strengthening my body would prevent this sort of thing."

"Not really," she said. "But you're strong and fit, so you'll recover faster."

Strong and fit. A medical professional called me "strong and fit."

I can assure you that has never happened, ever.

This was a long, painful way to garnering a compliment, but I will take it and, after 10 am tomorrow, any drugs they give me.

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