It started back in February when I was laid up with the 3rd worst bout of the flu I'd ever experienced.
As an aside, many people I know have never had the flu. Not the real flu - the upper respiratory ick that takes hold and knocks you flat which not only makes death seem way more appealing than it ought to but also feels as though it is just around the corner. And you can quote that poem about raging against the dying of the light all you want but, if you go by flu, there won't be much raging unless it's a raging coughing fit. There just isn't energy for it. So yeah. Lots of people I know have never had the flu. They'll say, "I don't know if I've ever had the flu." And my response is, "Then you've never had it. Because if you ever had, you would know it, remember it, and hope like hell it doesn't happen again."
I had the flu back in February - 3rd worst bout by my reckoning...although, now that I think about it, it's only the 3rd time I've had the flu so the fact that it was the 3rd worst also means it was the easiest bout and by easiest I mean it was the only time I've had the flu during which I didn't once consider going to the hospital. It was still 9 days of lying about, watching Frontline, and attempting to convince myself I had once felt well and would feel well again.
Long about day 3 of the Flu 2013, my back started to hurt. That's what happens when one has a crappy bed and occasion to be in it coughing almost continuously for 72 hours. There wasn't much to be done about it. I had to rest, the couch is worse than the bed, and so I sucked it up and spent as much time as I could at my computer watching Frontline instead. Still...every time I crawled back into my bed, it was with trepidation knowing my back was going to feel even worse when I awoke.
And it did.
Eventually though, the flu went away and, even though my back didn't exactly feel well, the pain was much more manageable with some daily activity mixed in with Advil and/or Aleve. So I sucked it up hoping it would go away in good time.
But it didn't.
During the course of the last 2 months, I must confess, I wasn't very kind to it. Spending hours at Denhac standing on concrete, going to the home show and walking around for several hours, again on concrete, carrying too many groceries in the house rather than making more than one trip, boxing up an extraordinary amount of books for donation at work and subsequently tipping a cart full of 3 cases on top of myself, not dealing with anxiety and stress in a healthy way like exercise. Good times.
Still...I was managing. Granted, I'd had to increase my intake of NSAIDs a couple of times but I was managing to get through each day without tears...mostly.
And then, last weekend, I came down with Norovirus - what many people refer to as the flu but which is really the stomach ick that causes the innards of one's body to organize a mass exodus of its contents through any available orifice. EVERYBODY OUT! That's not the flu, folks. That's something infinitely worse for a shorter duration.
Along with the Norovirus came a wicked fever. And with that fever came the overwhelming need to roll up in a blanket burrito on my bed as the waves of icy chills crashed over me and I began to hallucinate the presence of ice caps and polar bears. I spent most of the weekend like that...
Way too much time like that.
Because now the back Piper has come calling and he's demanding to be paid.
Wednesday, I could hardly walk without crying. Every 6 hours, I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen without relief. My back screamed if I stood or sat for more than 5 minutes. The only relief I could get was by lying down or to alternate sitting, standing, and walking. I knew I had to do something.
But I was afraid.
And, I guess if I'm going to be honest, the reason why I hadn't done anything about it before this week was because, underneath the denial, the false optimism, the "if I ignore it, it'll get better on its own" pep talks, I'd been afraid. 2 years ago, a friend went through several months of excruciating back pain...months of physical therapy, epidurals, MRIs, x-rays, and dilaudid prescriptions before finally FINALLY getting relief from the most extreme treatments - spinal fusion surgery. She's better now but she will never be the same.
That kind of experience terrifies me. I saw the pain in her eyes day after day and heard the defeat in her voice after every doctor's appointment. I don't know that she'd ever known depression until that time in her life...that time when she thought the rest of her life would be consumed by this intense, hopeless pain. It was horrible to helplessly watch her go through it. It was awful to think about the possibility I might be getting ready to go through it myself.
On Wednesday though, I knew I had to do something. It was to the point I could no longer ignore it and the anxious thoughts of packing, moving, unpacking into a new house with stairs compelled me into action.
I called my chiropractor* and left an extremely embarrassing, tear-filled message.
He got me in as soon as he could yesterday afternoon. By the time I walked into his office, the circles and bags under my eyes and the scrunched up set of my mouth told their own story. I hurt. And how.
He didn't even ask me where it hurt. He instructed me to lie down on my stomach and, after he grasped my ankles and did a quick 1-2 bend of my knees, he walked over to my right side, put his hands just to the right of my lower spine and said, "If I had to take a guess, I'd say you hurt right here" and he pushed down.
Let me tell you, I about jumped off the table as I screeched in torment.
He'd nailed it.
And then he said, "That's great news!"
Uh...OK. At that moment, as I pried my fingernails out of the vinyl covering on his exam table, I didn't really think so.
"It's not a disc, girl. And that is phenomenal news. I can easily fix this. The bad news is that it's going to take time. Your sacrum is so jammed up, frankly, I'm surprised you are able to walk."
I started to cry.
Cry because I was relieved. Cry because I still hurt. Cry because I felt incredibly stupid for having waited so long to see someone I trust to help me.
And he said, "It's OK. It'll be OK. I can fix you. You've learned a lesson. Next time, if it isn't better after a few days, you call me."
And I said, "I'll do anything you say. If you say come every day, I'll come every day. Tell me what to do."
And so I'm doing it.
Today was my second appointment. And I hurt. Bad. Worse than I did yesterday. Worse than I did when I had the flu in February...when this first started. If you know me...really really know me...you can likely guess just how bad I hurt then. I don't even think I know how bad. What I know is that I can't sit at my computer to write this blog post for longer than 5 minutes before I have to get up and move, stretch-ish, breathe, and shake the pain off as much as possible.
But I'm also hopeful. Hopeful that he can fix me as he says he can, yes. But also hopeful because, as I left today, he told me explicitly to call him over the weekend if I needed him...I think because he likely knew the extensive treatment he gave me today would be about as much as I could stand and I might need him to just talk me through it until Monday when I saw him again...and the knowledge of just knowing he's there - one of my healers - is enough to see me through.
And now I shall e-mail my acupuncturist, another loved and trusted friend, to see if she would see me on a Sunday if I have to call.
I love my holistic, minimally invasive, non-narcotic prescribing, healers!
As I tell myself...it's just another thing.
* I have known my chiropractor on a personal level for years. He is a dear, trusted friend who, when I'm on or off his table, not only knows how to heal my physical pain but also listens to and helps heal my emotional pain. He has a very few handful of patients he sees like me...ones he knows and trusts himself outside his office. If you are one of them, you know it, and you know what he can do for us. He works miracles in many, many ways.