March progress report

Hey look, another month.

Last we left your intrepid motorcyclist/hockey player, things weren't going so well.  Fortunately life has improved a titch since then, so here's your update.

What's Going On?

Most of the nerve pain I had last month is gone.  I went to the doc and got another 6-day Medrol pack, which is the best shit ever, I kid you not.  I hate taking steroids generally, but these make my back pain go away within 24 hours.  No side effects other than blurry vision when I wear my contacts.

The sciatica hasn't completely gone away, but it's more of a subtle tingling now instead of feeling like I was walking on thumbtacks.  I can live with that.

So now I'm pretty much down to muscular pain, which is still pretty bad, but is far preferable to nerve pain.  In addition to the actual back muscles, I have some muscular pain in the glutes and legs, which is confusing because it feels almost exactly like the muscle aches I'd get from a weekend hockey tournament.  Only, y'know, without doing anything but sitting on the couch.  But I can pretend I've been running marathons, so at least I still have a rich fantasy life going on.

What I Can Do:

I'm back at work now, so that's good.  I had taken two weeks off of driving in to work, and instead hung out at my makeshift home office for 11 working days.  

While I was out, I had an electronic sit-stand desk installed in my cube, so while I'm at work, I can hit a button and switch from sitting to standing and back again.  It's pretty nice and has made me able to continue working full time in the office now.  It looks pretty much exactly like this.

Sitting and standing are both pretty painful after I hit a threshold, but the threshold is up to about 30 minutes again.  I can go longer if I'm sitting somewhere comfortable.

Walking is still OK as long as I'm not carrying much…

I can carry things under about 5 pounds without too much trouble.  My work laptop is 5.5. lbs and I'm still having a lot of pain carrying it around to meeting rooms…fortunately my boss approved a MacBook Air for me, which I eagerly anticipate.

I'm back to doing stretching daily and some light PT work…more on PT in a moment.

Sleeping/lying down continue
to be no trouble at all.

What I Can't Do:

The biggest annoying thing, other than the work laptop, is not being able to carry a purse around.  I keep everything in my purse (which is why it weighs 2398479238 lbs and therefore why I can't carry it).  I've just been carrying a credit card and my driver's license in my pocket, which has taken some getting used to.

That's pretty much it — I'm phasing other things back in, in moderation, but nothing else is strictly off the list.

What I'm Doing About It:

Let's see, I already mentioned the methylprednisolone pack.  I finished that up last Sunday and have been doing pretty well ever since.

I did see my doctor again and I have a follow up appointment on April 5.  He was bummed for me that I'd had a flare-up but wasn't concerned about it from a medical point of view.  

I'm going to a different physical therapy place, where there's a person who my doctor specifically recommended for disc problems.  I've been twice now and it seems to be pretty good.  I had one flare up at my last appointment where doing an exercise gave me stabbing back pain, but fortunately heat and e-stim calmed that down quickly and it didn't recur.

For daily home PT, I have five stretches (hamstring, piriformis, quads, calfs, hip flexor) and three exercises (abdominal brace, calf raises, and a plank-like core move modified for the gimpy). 

I'm almost completely off of ice now and onto heat, which cheers me up considerably because I'm generally always cold.   Unless I'm at work, I'm sitting on an electric heating pad for my glute muscles, I always have the heated car seat cranked up to "maximum", and I'm taking a lot of warm baths with epsom salts.  

I ordered a Zero Gravity chair from Relax the Back which was just delivered this morning.  I haven't had a chance to sit in it yet, since I've been at work, but I'll report back.

I'm also trying to get back into weekly massages at the Apple Fitness Center.  My massage person there is also a physical therapist, so she's been great at helping the muscle pain.

So, that's my update for March.  I'm in a much better mental state than I was a couple of weeks ago, though it's still generally frustrating that this has been going on for nearly seven months now.  Oh well, everyone has been very up front with me that these injuries generally take a year to 18 months to heal, so I suppose I shouldn't expect to be a medical miracle. 🙂


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