It probably started about 7 years ago, when my back started giving out on me. The first time I was trying to get something down from on top of my wardrobe. It was also the day we were supposed to go and pick our engagement ring. That episode had me on my knees for about 3 weeks. I could get around but I couldn’t actually stand up straight and so resembled an old woman, using a desk chair to help me get round the flat. It wasn’t ideal as the flat was on the top floor, 36 steps to be exact so it was real house arrest. After about 20 chiropractor appointments I was finally able to stand up straight.
Two years later, it happens again, this time after lunging baby seats in and out of the car, sitting cross legged at baby classes, lifting buggies and bending over to pick up my baby girl… it finally got me. I reached into her cot to pick up and it went – have you any idea how scary that is, trying not to scream, holding your 4 month old by an armpit and trying to get us both to the floor without doing any damage. I had a c-section and it took the consultant 3 attempts to get the lumber punch right (imagine trying to stick a needle into the most important part of someone while they are a moving target – hats off!). It took about three weeks to recover from that – and luckily the little lady wasn’t moving around all that much. And things where pretty good – I was having regular check ups and realignment and then I fell pregnant. Which was the best thing for me – I have no issues at all – yay!
Fast forward to now. Well to actually about a year ago, bubba number 2 was only about 6 months old, I had returned to work – in fact had been back about a month. Again, I had another c-section – so my core muscles had been cut through a second time and it made me even weaker. This time I was moving an Ikea table (the small ones that weight nothing) so my eldest could draw in the same room as us.
That episode floored me. At first it was ok. I went to bed looked after myself. The next day I got up and caught my leg on the side of the bed and that was it… faced down wracked with spasms like you wouldn’t imagine, I would argue that that pain was the same level as labour (oh yes I went through that before the section – it ripped across my back then because she was facing the wrong way).
Any way I managed to crawl on the bed – and then essentially stayed there face down until my husband got home and called the ambulance who arrived with gas and air. (apparently the neighbours could hear me screaming…not embarrassing at all). The ambulance crew where great, apparently they get it – back pain is surprisingly taken seriously because they all suffer from it.
BUT – I have never felt pain like it – and never want to again. The ride to the hospital I spent out of it on gas and air and it was still killing me. Imagine, ripples or waves of pain writhing up and down your back constantly – with no let up. Two weeks later of literally laying on my back doing nothing I was upright again and able to cuddle my kids again.
And here we are present day. I could feel it coming… I started a little gym class with my youngest and then a sensory class too. Both involved lifting and throwing bubba round and sitting on a hard floor. I got a few twinges then. Then as work got more stressful I could feel the twinges getting worse. It didn’t stop me doing what I do every day lifting both kids into the car, hoisting buggies out of the car, lugging laptops to the office, hefting washing and shopping around. Until I decided one day to build a toy box. And shunting the sofa is what did it this time. This at the same time as a global project I have been leading for 9 months, the same time as we have been sleep training my youngest, the same time my husband has a particularly busy week at work.
So here I am. Miserable and lying on my back again. Aching and uncomfortable. Unable to move, when I do get up and walk around its snail pace and worst of all I am not able to cuddle my girls.
And yet, I still get bollocked for building the toy box, for shunting the sofa (something I have done a few times before when we have decorated!) but what baffles me is its ok for me to do everything else every day… I guess what I am saying is, I don’t set out to ‘do my back in’ I am careful 95% of the time. I barely wear heels, I do my exercises when I remember.
I never rest properly and do absolutely nothing (and the only time I do is when I am flat on my back on painkillers) this past week has been one of the busiest of my career so it certainly wasn’t planned – perhaps the straw on this occasion did break the donkeys back.
Why am I telling this story, perhaps because maybe a bit of empathy might be nice, perhaps when we are having a particularly stressful time, we should try and stop before we get to this point and try to rest before we do real damage? … all I can say is the eye rolling just isn’t supportive and makes me feel even more miserable.