After the problems I encountered back-wise at Romantic Times Convention, I thought it might be coming up on time to have the whole spinal shebang addressed.
At first, I thought I just needed to lose weight. Okay. So I should exercise. The problem was that I realized very quickly that even with decent sneakers and cozy socks, I couldn’t walk more than once around my apartment complex without the dreaded Lumbar Lockup happening. I tried two days in a row, and at the end of the second day I had to admit defeat.
This really started to bother me, not just because it hurt but because three, four years ago, I was actually pretty darn active. I jogged. I danced. I did yoga. I am a lazy person in a lot of ways, but total slugdom isn’t really my bag and never has been. Plus, I thought it was really weird that I was starting to hurt in my sleep. While doing nothing. My back hurt, and my left hip was starting to just fall asleep all the time, when it wasn’t joining the pain brigade.
So I dug around and I found a chiropractor, and I went in. “I know that some of it is probably caused by my weight,” I told them with some hesitation. “And I’m willing to try to lose weight, I’ve never not been willing. But I have to be able to walk in order to even get started.”
And the very nice doctor nodded, and she poked at my back, and she said, “You know, sure, maybe your weight isn’t helping things, but you know that most overweight people actually do go around without the kind of pain you’re experiencing?”
You could have knocked me down with a feather. I had just assumed it was all down to my weight, all of it, and to hear that actually, not so much, was quite a shock. And then they sent me for x-rays, and I got another shock.
I have scoliosis. Which, really, not a big deal. Correctable. But my lumbar spine looks, and I am not kidding, like a Twizzler, curved and rotated. When the x-ray flashed up on the screen and I saw it, my first words were, “Oh, my god.” Because it is visible even to me that I am messed up.
I had an accident as a teenager, where I jumped off a diving board and in an effort to avoid landing on another kid, I twisted towards the apron of the pool. I landed on my feet, but it was wet. My feet went out from under me and I slammed down hard on my lower back. So between the scoliosis I was probably already developing then and the accident, I guess I set some stuff in motion. Stuff I likely exacerbated during my hoopdance years when I only paid the barest lip service to balancing my practice and hooped mostly to – you guessed it – my left.
(don’t be me, hoopers, for the love of god hoop BOTH DIRECTIONS)
I just stared at this picture of my jacked-up, hot mess of a spine while the doctor explained that this can be corrected. The muscles that have been compensating for the twist of my spine, we could get them to let go, and we could reduce the curve and maybe the twisting. They’d do a series of adjustments, they’d suggest muscle relaxers, I would pick up yoga again, very careful yoga with no twisting for a while. And we would fix it.
So that’s what we’re doing, and it is helping. And boy, is it making me realize a lot of things. How much I have ended up isolating myself because I stopped doing things like going to Scarborough Faire because I can’t walk from the far parking lot to the front gate without wanting to scream. I’ve only been to the State Fair once because of the walking. Travel is a nightmare – all the airport trudging. I couldn’t go to concerts that are standing room only because I couldn’t stand for hours at a time. I couldn’t even stand for ten minutes of my x-ray without wanting to cry. I stopped hooping, I canceled my gym membership, I stopped jogging, I stopped…everything. And honestly at the time I didn’t even entirely realize why I was doing it. I did assume I was just lazy, that I was just finally giving up.
I didn’t realize how much pain I was in so much of the time, not really horrible screaming pain but constant, constant mid-to-high grade aching and soreness. Getting through my normal day sapped all of my energy, and I just never realized that was the problem, that I was compensating and overdoing so much that I had nothing left. This plus depression is, as you might imagine, not exactly a fun experience.
I’m realizing now how much everything hurt because I am getting long pockets of time where I don’t hurt. I’ve got some extra energy back, I am doing my yoga nearly every night (I have an app called Yoga Studio, it costs money but my gosh it has been worth every penny), and I can sleep. Sleep doesn’t hurt. I can stand up to cook dinner for longer (I am looking forward to doing risotto again). I can go grocery shopping without having to lean on the cart, hell, without having to get a cart in the first place because I didn’t think I could make it through the store even before I got to the store. When I get up in the morning, I get out of bed that much faster because I am not dreading the first painful steps where I can’t even stand up straight.
The pain slowly comes back between appointments, but eventually, I am told, that will stop. I will have to keep up with yoga, gradually adjusting my practice to restore a full sun salutation block and some inversions, and some twisting poses. I might be able to take up hoopdance again – I’m going to have to really learn how to hoop in my non-dominant direction. I would like to be able to do daily walks of longer than ten or fifteen minutes. I would definitely like to be able to buy cute shoes again without considering their effect on my back, but that might be asking too much.
And this is all coming in the nick of time because I have a lot of baking to do. I’ve got four recipes from Definitely, Maybe, Yours to post, one every Tuesday until the book comes out on August 11th, starting next Tuesday, holy cow! Get on your kitchen clogs and break out the Kitchenaid, folks, and be prepared to hit up your local package store because only one of these recipes is kid-suitable without alterations (and the kid-suitable dessert involves a torch, so it’s only suitable for feeding to children, not for making it with them).
Also, in case you were interested, you can pre-order Definitely here. It’ll be available in a variety of formats, from a variety of retailers, but it’s up for pre-order right now directly from the publisher, who offers a free multi-format eBook bundle with purchase of the paperback, if that’s a thing you like.
I’ll keep you posted on my Virtual Book Tour as well, that’s a thing that is happening and is going to be fun. In the meantime, wish me luck, as it’s yoga time and I am struggling with downward-facing dog as much as I ever did, blast it all.