July progress report

Insert pithy opening comment here.  No, really, go ahead. I'm tired and too lazy to come up with one myself. 😀

What's Going On?

Improvement continues, which is both good and bad…let me explain.

It's good for obvious reasons.  The pain continues to be 99.99% muscular.  Even the cold/wet spot on my calf has pretty much gone (I can actually feel it right now for the first time in a while, but that's probably because I'm thinking about it as I'm typing this.  I couldn't feel it two minutes ago).

Because of the improvements, I'm able to add things back into my life.  I'm more active than I've been in almost a year, which sounds more impressive than it is as my previous level of activity was "getting up from the recliner to walk to the kitchen".  But the downside is that I'm having a hard time moderating activity.  I flared myself up a little bit this weekend by doing too much.  It's OK — a "flare up" these days is similar to what daily life was like a couple of months ago. It just means I have to take painkillers and wear a heatpack during the day.  It was a good lesson.

What I Can Do:

Still working full-time.  No real change here from last month; if I don't take microbreaks at work, my back complains.  That'll probably be the case for quite some time, so I may leave this out of the updates moving forward.

I'm doing a lot of camping!  People who have never camped with me may be surprised that someone with a back injury can camp, but let me assure you that I am a Princess Camper.  I have a cot, a 3" Thermarest, and a fluffy sleeping bag.  Yes, it all fits on the motorcycle when I moto-camp. 😉  As long as I have a victi-, er, friend, along who can help me set up the tent and my cot, camping has been fine on my back and is a huge boost to my activity level and therefore my tenuous grasp on sanity.


Walking continues to work really well for me.  Because this whole thing has trashed my cardio system, I started the Couch to 5K program at the gym on the elliptical.  The program is ostensibly for people wanting to run a 5K, so it focuses on intervals of walking and then running; I'm doing "walking" and "walking slightly faster".  I'm doing these workouts twice a week: approximately 2 miles/30 minutes per workout. As long as I put two days of rest in between the workouts, it's going really well (neglecting this rest period was what triggered my flare up this weekend).  The first couple of times I did the workouts, my back was sore, but now it's actually very freeing.  The elliptical is no-impact and the easy movements feel really good to my whole body. When I remember the rest periods (*cough*), I'm pain free and am feeling great to be incorporating real activity back into my life.

I've done two more ~10 minute public skate sessions since my last update and they continue to go OK.  The last time I had some trouble because my skates need to be sharpened and my core wasn't really able to keep me balanced on the wobbly edges.  I'm a little afraid of sharpening them, though, since newly-sharpened skates are very difficult to stop on and stopping is hard on my back to begin with.  I'm going to bring the skates to Ice Oasis and talk to Terry — Peter says he can probably do a "half sharpening" or something for me.  Just enough to give an edge back.

I rode the XT on Friday!  It was probably a poor idea in hindsight, since I had done the back to back C25K workouts on Wednesday and Thursday, but what's done is done.  Peter and I rode our bikes 2.2 miles to lunch and then 2.2 miles home.  Iron Butt, here I come!  It felt very good to ride, but the XT is a little tough for me.  Like I said last month, it's almost too upright.  My torso is upright but my butt/hips kind of angle out and it puts a weird pressure on my spine.  If I consciously tuck my pelvis under and keep a neutral spine, it's OK, but that's tough to do while riding. I'm trying to find a local Ninja 250 to test ride to see if the posture there would be more accommodating.


What I Can't Do:

I'm still trying not to carry much.  I've increased my weight limit for carrying things (still under 10 pounds or so for the most part) but I should probably back off a little.

No hockey, though I am doing small amount of public skates.

No Beemer at all.  

No weight lifting. I'm starting to incorporate light cardio; elliptical only.  No treadmill!

What I've Stopped Doing:

Nothing new since last month; still no physical therapy, though I continue to do the stretches nearly every day.

What I'm Doing About It:

I already mentioned the C25K program that I started at the gym.

I still try to get weekly massages with a physical therapist, which helps a lot with the muscular pain.

I do a lot of self-massage with tennis balls, trying to break up the trigger points that have formed in my back. At work, I lean back against a tennis ball in my chair, which helps a little bit; at home, I lie on the floor with my feet up on the bed or couch and put the tennis ball under my back.  

Our chiropractor has shown Peter how to massage my psoas muscles, too, so we're going to start doing that to see how that helps.  Right now the biggest muscles that seem to be affected are the psoas and the quadratus lumborum.  Here's a good article that explains why unhappy psoas muscles make an unhappy back.  I do all of those stretches every day. 🙂

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