Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New Endings, New Beginnings?

This time last Wednesday I was laying in a hospital bed, mind addled with the best chemistry the 21st century can offer.  But before I go there, lets go back in time for a bit.

Several years ago, I can't remember when, I started having back pain.  It is in my lower left side, right at the top of the butt.  Every morning it was a struggle to put my socks and shoes on and it hurt a lot to get in and out of a car.  When I exercised, however, it felt great.  I think it was because the muscles would warm up.

Monday last week after Muay Thai, I came home (my new home on the farm, by the way), closed the gate at my entrance and couldn't get back into my car.  I literally couldn't bend at the waist.  I tried and twisted and finally stuffed myself back into the car with much pain.

I got to the house and took a shower and came downstairs.  I had in my hands a light coat and a pair of socks.  Then it happened.  My back siezed up and the muscles in the lower left back just above the buttock spasmed - I dropped the coat and socks and got into bed.  It was pain like I have never felt.  I literally writhed on my bed trying to find a comfortable spot but all was for naught.  I had to go to the emergency room.

I got there and a couple cops sniffed around me to see what was up.  When they saw no foul play involved they got lost.  I checked in and the doctors immediately admitted me when they saw what pain I was in.  Right away I was given an IV with some opiates and muscle relaxers.  The first dose didn't do it.  I got another one and all was finally well.  The doctor admitted me to the hospital.

It was a long night, waking up periodically for checks on my vitals, and needing help to go to the bathroom.  I couldn't stand quite right, since I was pretty doped up.

I spent Tuesday in the hospital recovering.  During this they doped me up some more for an MRI.  I had to lay flat on the MRI table and simply couldn't do it without the drugs.  The MRI was fairly uneventful.  They have headphones for you.  They asked me what music I wanted and I slurred "got any Black Crowes?"  Believe it or not they have Pandora, and they put the Crowes on for me.  It made the MRI go quicker.

A few hours later the doc came to my room to discuss the results.  He showed me the MRI.  Ho Lee F*ck.  My L4-L5 and L5-S1 discs were very obviously bulging out into the left side of my body, imipinging on nerves, which has been causing all this pain over the years.  Monday's episode was just the crescendo.  The doc said what I wanted to hear - he didn't think surgery was necessary "at this time" and the specialist that was on duty agreed.  I have a follow up appointment in a week or so.

I asked the doc if there was any particular reason that this happened - he said it certainly wasn't trauma - just genetics and gettin' old, bud.  He also said that he has seen people with worse looking mri's that had no pain, and people with better looking mri's that have intense pain.  It is all in the individual.  I am not sure if that was bullshit or not, but I found it interesting.

When I checked out of the hospital they gave me 800mg ibuprofen, percocet and flexoril.  I have not taken one percocet since I left the hospital.  It will be good to have those in stock though.  I did take a flexoril on Wednesday night.  That one is a muscle relaxer and I took it because I needed sleep.  It really konks you out.  I haven't taken one since.  I have been taking the 800mg ibuprofen three times a day per the prescription.  That is equivalent to 4 Advils.  So this basically = 12/day.

My back had not felt this good in years and years and years.  I think the incident, while unbelievably inconvenient and painful, will end up being the best thing for me.  I have cycled on the trainer and used and elliptical machine since then with no pain.  I am a bit scared to run at this point and for sure will not test my back with Muay Thai.  Oh that.

As I mentioned I have a follow up appointment in a week - I have a feeling I already know what the doctor is going to tell me.  Running and cycling OK - no Muay Thai or any other form of kickboxing.  I have made my peace with it.  In fact I have rather enjoyed this last week plus of not going to the gym, and simply going home to be with my wife and kids.  I have been at the gym evenings for over five and a half years constantly at least two or three times a week and honestly, didn't know what I was missing at home.  Yesterday I went for a bike ride with my youngest.  I almost cried - I enjoyed my time with her that much. 

I am not sure if I will ever take my black sash test.  That was scheduled for early December.  I certainly won't be taking that any time soon.  If ever.  But in my heart I earned it.  I just don't have the cloth.  I will eventually miss Muay Thai, that is for sure. 

We aren't at the funeral stage yet for Muay Thai, but like I said, I have a feeling I know what the doctor is going to say.  I will probably try to teach Muay Thai in the future, but not for a while.  I am enjoying having some of my personal life back and being relatively back pain free has been absolutely wonderful.  You don't know how good it feels to put your socks on pain free until you haven't done it for five years.

If I don't end up back at the gym, I will have more time to do more cardio - my running and cycling will be much better than ever.  I will also lose some of my muscle tone from all the clench work I do in Muay Thai and will likely get a bit skinnier.  This will also increase my performance in cycling, especially in France 2013.

Lemons = lemonade.


Gerry from Valpo said...

A spinal problem is serious stuff. I would be surprised if the doc clears you for running. You should get a second opinion if he does. Don't risk spending the rest of your life being in back pain.

Dan from Madison said...

I hear you Gerry. I trust the guy though, UW is a pretty good hospital/doctors. But I would likely get a second opinion anyway.

Carl from Chicago said...

Glad you figured out what was wrong with you. That's the most important part.