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Hitting a bump in the road

When I was a child, our family and neighbors went "visiting." One family would go over to another farm family's home. Sometimes a telephone call was made but other times a family would stop over unannounced. The adults would sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee and visit while the kids disappeared to play.

When I was in sixth grade, I went with my parents over to the Olson farm. My best friend Gail and her parents were also visiting that afternoon. The Olson twins, Gail and I went down the concrete steps to play in the basement. In the stairwell was a tension rod and the four of us took turns jumping up and swinging off the tension rod. It was fun until Gail and I decided to swing at the same time. The rod did not hold both of our weights and I fell, smashing my lower back into the corner of a concrete step. It hurt so badly. I tried to get up but couldn't. Mom came down and looked at my back. I wasn't bleeding so the visit continued. Mom didn't think the doctors could do anything anyway.

Lately I have been feeling great, pushing myself to burn more calories than I consume. I started jogging around the basketball courts in addition to my cardio routine. When it snowed last week I grabbed the shovel and lifted the super heavy wet snow from the end of the driveway. I moved heavy furniture by myself.

Sure enough, my sciatica flared up, a bump on the road in my life-changing journey.

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve and its branches; from the spinal cord to buttocks and hip and down the back of each leg. Sciatica is developed when the sciatic nerve is compressed in the lower spine, commonly caused by a herniated disc in the lower back.

My L5 vertebrae is damaged, I am assuming from the fall on the concrete steps when I was a child and every so often I get severe lower back pain.

Now my husband at times has issues with his sciatic nerve bothering him but he works through it. He keeps moving and eventually it gets better. So I decided I would keep active and it would go away. Together we worked out, my back and legs did not hurt while exercising. I really pushed myself because the previous week I never lost a pound. Saturday my daughter and I did major cleaning. By Sunday night, once I sat down, I could not stand up without excruciating pain.

Prolonged sitting aggravates the symptoms so I took Monday off from sedentary desk job and called for chiropractic appointment. I was using ice packs and a heating pad. Both felt good while I was using them but getting up from a seated or laying position about killed me.

When Dan got home I convince him we needed to exercise, we missed the last four days so exercise was overdue. I told him there were things I could do and I wanted him to get his exercise too.

In the workout room, Dan helped me onto the inversion table and I hung upside down, hoping the position would reduce the effects of gravity on my lower back. Dan left me to spend time on the treadmill. No, I wasn't stuck upside down for an extended period of time. I took breaks. I could use the handles and raise the table so all my blood wasn't pooled in my head for too long. After Dan helped me off, I tried the treadmill for five minutes and that was enough. My legs were weak.

We decided to head for the swimming pool so I could get resistance work out without the pressure on my lower back and legs. Then we used both the steam room and sauna. When we got home I immediately went to bed. I was exhausted from a day of doing nothing but trying to find a position to be pain free, then dealing with excruciating pain when repositioning.

Tuesday we weighed in and I had lost four more pounds. That is the most I have lost in one week.

Afterwards I went to my chiropractic appointment. My chiropractor did an adjustment and then used electrical stimulation on my back and legs. Finally I was relieved from some of the pain. After the appointment I was able to go back to work. I just have to remember to stand and walk around frequently. I believe in the chiropractic therapy because it works for me. But from experience not all chiropractors are to be trusted. One person I went to years ago used a vibrating massager on my back, cracked my back and neck and told me to take Aleve. It wasn't much of a treatment and did not help me.

In the past I also had physical therapy at the hospital which worked too but a doctor's referral is needed and it is much more expensive. One interesting treatment I was given was Craniosacral therapy which works with the central nervous system and its protective tissues. I was pleasantly surprised that the hospital would be using alternative medicine.

I will overcome this injury and get back visiting the cardio machines because toned muscles will help me with my back issue in the future.