A diary of a back in pain
Having your head in someone else's hands, knowing full well they are going to attempt to twist it round like an owl, and asking you to relax is a bit like the compliance a dentist requires whilst coming at you will a drill and an evil laugh.
It doesn't work. I was as far from relaxed as I could have been but before I could free myself from his grip and run for the hills shouting maniac he did the deed. That unmistakeable sound of bone wrenching, ligament popping cracks that bounce off the inside of your skull and reverberate through each and every vertebrae and the subsequent sound that unwittingly escapes your mouth like a cross between ecstasy, pain and surprise will live in me like it was yesterday.
Yes I was at the Osteopath. The first port of call along the road of back treatments. And yes I was ever so slightly pathetic in the way I feared the bone crunching!
However, his was the first (of a few) diagnoses and he supposed that I had very tight gluteal muscles and a twist somewhere in the pelvis. I was quite happy with the first bit but apparently it wasn't actually good news and he preceded to show me the tennis ball technique.
Now for those trying to imagine, picture lying down on your back and tucking the tennis ball in at the side of your bottom until your body weight is starting to dig the ball in the muscle, and then bending at right angles the opposite leg, gently aim to lower that knee across the body to the floor and stay there until it doesn't hurt anymore. In knots yet? Let me tell you, a tennis ball in a tight glute is akin to a combination of a red hot poker and masochistic relief yet I was to do this every day until my next appointment.
As for the twist, well that was his to sort out with his alarming crunching skills.
Being a dutiful sort of person I did indeed get out the tennis ball and lie on it in agony every night for 2 weeks. To my relief it did actually become less painful. I imagine my muscle finally submitted to the torture when it realised I wasn't giving in and became easier and my once rock hard glute medius (I know it's called that now!!) was like putty. But my back still hurt and gave way, a lot.
I believe I went back 3 times over the course of about 5 weeks to no avail. Please understand I am not discounting osteopathy at all, but it wasn't right for me. And nor were the following I tried in slight desperation over the next year or so: Cranial osteopathy, chiropractor, spiritual healer...all had different reasons, different diagnoses and different costs that I couldn't keep up.
By now I had been this way for about 3 years and was embarking on a new path in my life, back to college to study homeopathy. To do this I needed money and with the dilemma of small children and working full time, I took to cleaning houses. It fitted in, it paid ok but oh my goodness the back paid the price.
So it was out of desperation I eventually headed to the GP and into the hands of Dave, the physiotherapist. And I was in good hands.
Looking back it still surprises me that he was the first person to suggest this, not that he came up with an earth shatteringly new reason as to the pain you understand, but he spotted weaknesses in muscles where there should have been strength and thus embarked me on a series of exercises that were to make the first glimmer of difference.
Ones to strengthen my deep abdominal and lower back muscles and that well known buzz word, my core.
Thinking about how time passes, it had been many years since I had regularly exercised and because of the pain and stiffness I had come to believe I shouldn't. Yet for a while at least it came back to me like an old friend that provides support when you need it and a little lift here and there!
And there I stayed for a while. Somewhere balancing between side planks and Swiss balls, giving me some well needed relief from the 'giving way' pain and a sort of settlement into the morning stiffness that had became such a part of me that I barely really noticed it anymore. Until 2006.
Come back to part three where you'll find all the D's. Divorce, Diagnosis, Doctors and Diet.