Some Nerve

Pardon the long lag between posts. A visitor arrived at my house several weeks ago and has not left yet, making it hard to concentrate on writing or much of anything else.

It showed up unexpectedly and settled, uninvited, in my low back and hip. From that position of power, it began making demands. The only break I get from it is in the first few hours after I get up. Apparently, back spasms like to sleep in. But shortly after breakfast, as I’m sipping my second cup of tea, it starts complaining.

“These chairs are too hard. Why are you still sitting here anyway? I want to lie down. Put something under your knees. Where’s the heating pad? You know I like it warm.”

I try to do a few of my own activities, but it insists on having my full attention and doesn’t want to do most of the things I enjoy. It yells at me if I work at the computer for more than half an hour. It doesn’t like sewing, either. “Fine,” I say, “we’ll go into the kitchen and cook something. Wouldn’t you like a nice meal?”

“No,” it says, “no standing either.”

I do all the exercises that are supposed to make backs happy, but they have no effect. Unlike everyone else’s back pain, this one doesn’t even like swimming. It complains after I get out of the shower. If I take it shopping for necessities like food, it yells at me all afternoon. The grandchildren came for a visit last month, but it wouldn’t let me pick up the 2-year old. I guess it doesn’t like kids.

It hates all but one of the chairs in our house, and that’s the only place it will sit quietly. It whines about every other seat it encounters, from waiting rooms to restaurants to movie theaters. It’s like trying to go somewhere with a colicky baby — there’s almost no chance of getting through the entire event without having to get up and pace.

Until last week, it also hated the seat in my new car. I bought it a very pricey cushion and it seems to like that, so now there are exactly two places in the universe where it will allow me to sit.

When I realized that this visitor had no intention of leaving on its own, I went to my physical therapist for an exorcism. The P.T. straightened out all the structural disorder that had generated the spasm to begin with, but by then, the thing had unpacked its bags and would not budge. Now the muscle spasm is impinging on the nerves, causing the muscles to tighten even more, and the unhappy cycle is tough to break. Over several visits, we’ve offered it a whole menu of treatments including ultrasound and electrical stimulation. It gives a brief nod to our attempts and then ignores them.

It really can’t be appeased by much except heat, massage, and lying down. Oh, and this really strong Chinese liniment that smells like locker room. It does like that. Like that weird guy who corners you at a party, it talks incessantly, making it hard to concentrate on other things, like writing. All day long, I hear the same refrain over and over. Bitch, bitch, bitch. Nag, nag, nag. It is the most boring guest I’ve ever had.

By now, you’re wondering why I don’t try to banish it with medications. I’d love to, but then I’d be hearing from my stomach lining instead. I’ve jokingly said that my only hope may be medical marijuana, but as the weeks wear on, the joke isn’t quite as funny.

Yesterday, I took my nervy, spasm-y back to meet the acupuncturist and she spent nearly an hour on it. Today it didn’t start yelling until almost noon and it let me write this post. I am cautiously optimistic, enough to make a second appointment.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she was telling me about someone in her family who was always dissatisfied. No matter what she tried to do for this person, he either didn’t respond or found something to complain about.

“Have you ever known anyone like that?” she asked. “Someone who just couldn’t be made happy no matter what you did?”

Yes, I assured her, I knew exactly how that felt.

Published in: on July 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm  Comments (12)  
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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The one positive thing about the physical pain is that it generated a very clever blog post. I hope the acupuncture works, but if not, and all else fails, I would not necessarily rule out medical MJ. However, unless things have changed since my college days (when I observed Others using the stuff), be prepared for a spike in your appetite, leading to weight gain and further back pain.

    • That might happen, but then I probably wouldn’t care, would I? At this point, though, I can’t even think about it without hearing bits of Cheech and Chong routines in my head. For now, I’m rooting for the acupuncturist.


  2. Oh, dear Michelle. I’m so sorry you are suffering so. I pray that you can find real relief. In the meantime, please know you have been missed.

    • Thank you, Sallie. It would be much nicer to be acutely ill with something and get over it. By contrast, I find this condition intolerably boring, so I happily accept all offers of prayer to help send it on its way.


  3. I’ll be thinking about you! That kind of constant pain is not only irritating it is exhausting. I hope the acupuncturist is able to successfully send your visitor packing quickly!

    • Thanks, Shari. This is same kind of back pain my mother started having in her late 40s and it lasted the rest of her life, so I need to find effective ways to manage it. I have too many things I want to do!


  4. I hope something works for you Michelle. That kind of pain really diminishes your quality of life (I waited about 3 yrs too long before finally giving in to hip replacement surgery).

    • Thanks, Dolly. The pain does seem to be “waking up” later in the day since the acupuncture treatment, so I’m off to another appointment today.


  5. Well, this blows. After consulting a sports doctor (really a chiropractor with additional fancy degrees), I have been able to keep my knee/back issues under control. I think you are on a good path with acupuncture.

    • It does indeed. The middle aged body requires more babying than the one I used to own. Sometimes it even needs support staff.


  6. I’m with you. The post 50 maintenance and refurbishment schedule is a bore. Feel better soon.

    • Melanie, thanks for the good thoughts. I am pleased to report continued success with a second acupuncture treatment. Yesterday I was only on the couch with a heating pad for a couple of hours. This is a HUGE improvement over the previous weeks, when I was spending whole days there with nothing to do but count my dying brain cells as they succumbed to an excess of daytime TV.


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