April in Glenwood: Dear pain, please get off my back
I pulled a muscle in my lower back the other day. It took me to my knees faster than a Catholic wedding.
Standing upright again practically took a miracle.
Since the muscle pull, I’ve became alarmingly aware how difficult everyday activities are when suffering back pain. Something as simple as getting up from the couch or going to the bathroom is now a major undertaking. The muscle spasms triggered from these otherwise-normal activities remind me of the labor pains I experienced before my emergency C-section. A few have even brought tears to my eyes. Most make me want to curse the universe with expletives that would make a sailor blush. Then I remember I have a toddler in the house who loves to repeat words.
“Oh shoot!” is my go-to reaction to pain these days.
Like the Joni Mitchell lyrics, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” this latest back pain episode is a reminder of how much I appreciate mobility and being able to come and go through life without cursing. What makes the back pain increasingly challenging is my 20-month-old renegade with an agenda to investigate every cabinet and knock everything he encounters to the ground.
I’m not exaggerating when I say everything.
The other morning, my mom came to the house to watch Will so I could rest my back. She could see the exact path he had taken through the living room and kitchen by the toys and objects he dropped on the floor, where I couldn’t reach. I almost think he knew I couldn’t bend over, so he was playing games with me.
April Fool’s Day came early to our house this year.
All I can do is laugh since it’s a waste of my energy to get too upset by toddler shenanigans. I do feel empathy for my fellow back-pain sufferers, especially the mamas with the young babies and kids, who must endure the restrictions that such an ailment brings. There are many — the American Chiropractic Association reports that 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. The health of our backs and spines, and central nervous systems overall, is key to our entire body’s well-being. I know the better my back feels, the more energy and motivation I have.
Plus fewer blocks on the floor to step on.
I opted for a visit to the doctor for my most recent back pain incident, in case it was related to another issue. A problem involving my esophagus surfaced in a chest scan after some upper back pain and labored breathing. I had an endoscopy this week, and we’re waiting for biopsy test results. The initial scope showed I don’t have any damage or inflammation, which is a relief. I do have a hiatal hernia, which can make swallowing challenging and cause heartburn.
That takes all the fun out of eating corn dogs at summer festivals.
I doubt if corn dogs are in my immediate future. I do envision a hot stone massage and yoga classes to improve back health. I may even try essential oils to soothe sore muscles, as many of my mom’s friends swear by them. Peppermint and wintergreen are said to help cool sore areas, and frankincense and eucalyptus oils are anti-inflammatories used to ease pain with warming properties. When I was a kid, I was one of the three wise men in my church play who brought the baby Jesus the gift of frankincense and myrrh.
I’ll take that as a sign.
I’ve also been looking into acupuncture, a traditional treatment in eastern medicine. I typically avoid needles, but these are thin and strategically placed on the body to stimulate the central nervous system and trigger pain-killing endorphins. Sounds therapeutic and relaxing to me. I’m always looking for more balance in my life.
And less knee-buckling pain.
April E. Allford wants to go ride bikes later. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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