The worst pain of my life

Just to update everyone on the past couple of days… On Sunday night around 8:30pm I’d done all my chores and had enjoyed a lovely warm weekend in London and satisfied with everything I breathed a sigh of relief – and immediately regretted it.

As I exhaled my entire back went in to spasm.  I have had this kind of thing happen before and often it just needs bed rest to subside.  I went to bed early and tried to visualise calming the muscles through the breath.  Unfortunately this seemed to aggravate it, so I took a Syndol (Mersyndol in Oz) and hoped that would work its wonders.  I slept alright (Mer/Syndol tends to knock me out) but I dreamt of pain and woke at 2:30am with my whole back quivering with spasms.

Somehow I made it to dawn whereupon I attempted a trip to the bathroom.  After almost blacking out with pain I made it back to bed, knowing I needed therapy – fast.  I began my research of possible physiotherapists and at 7am started sending emails. After what passed for a shower (standing very still under warm water and then collapsing on the bed afterwards), I checked my messages. The first physio I had contacted by email let me know she was on holiday for a week and the clinic was closed. So back to the drawing board.  By now it was 8am and I was in serious pain.  Fortunately the next physio was available and had a cancellation for a 9am appointment.  So at 8:25, after a quick call to the local minicab service, I made a very painful journey down my 3 flights of stairs to wait for the cab.  The cab rolled up quickly but then took me the longest possible route to the physio, over every single speed hump in the vicinity.  He was aware I was becoming more and more distressed and I started to feel sorry for him, because he was clearly trying to take me via the ‘short cut’, due to roadworks at Shepherd’s Bush, but had instead been thwarted by oversized lorries, unthinking pedestrians and cyclists and yet more roadworks.  When we finally got to the physio, I was in tears and could only shuffle to the reception.  

However the staff at Kensington Physiotherapy were wonderfully sympthetic and so caring.  They took me straight in and when I finally got to lie down on the bed, they stared in amazement as the rippling mess that was my back continued to bubble and pop before them.  My physio got straight to work, releasing the spasms in the erector spinea muscles, psoas, and finally – the source of all my problems – the quadratus lumborum.  Unfortunately by the time I had that treatment, a lot of damage had been done.  The iliolumbar ligament had weakened and torn, as had the top of the quadratus lumborum on the right bottom rib. As a result, the spinal nerve tissue had gone in to overdrive and shut everything down.  

An hour in to treatment the spasms had finally stopped.  But the damage was going to take longer to fix.  After walking around a bit, the physio decided to strap my back to keep it from reverting in to spasm.  I couldn’t bend forward at all, or move well and sitting was uncomfortable, but at least I could move a little bit.  Perched on the edge of the treatment bed, the physio strapped my back and just as she was finishing tugging at the flesh, I announced to her that I was blacking out.  The physio caught me and lay me back, but I think I lost consciousness for a few seconds.  Apparently I had changed colour to a pale grey.  A sip of water and a few minutes later I was okay again, but decided NOT to walk home.  I doubt I’d have got far anyway.  After making another appointment for the next day, I hailed a cab, got home and managed the three flights of stairs to collapse on my bed and within an hour, fell asleep.  The pain and the treatment had exhausted me.

As the day progressed I seemed to improve and was confident of going to work on Tuesday (today).  Even this morning when I left for the next appointment, I considered walking all the way there but got half way and decided to take the bus as the walk had stirred up a bit of pain.  But when I arrived at the physiotherapists I proudly showed off my increased movement, only to discover that I was completely out of alignment.  My physio, CJ, showed me that I was healing incorrectly and she would have to work hard on the surrounding tissue for the misalignment to be corrected.  The therapy itself was painful but not unexpectedly so.  But once it was over, she asked me to get up.  The act of pulling myself to my knees nearly made me physically ill.  I didn’t faint this time but the pain was unbelievable. My physio made it clear I was going nowhere but to bed today.  The fact that I couldn’t move without severe pain made me quickly agree with her. I was once again strapped up and allowed to depart.

Shuffling gently out the door I messaged my staff that there was no way I could make it in to the office, and began the slowest and most painful hour-long journey home, on two buses.  

About 20 people stopped me and asked if I was okay.  Well clearly, not.  But what the heck did they think asking me was going to do?  I couldn’t mask the agony etched into every line in my face and I still needed to get to the bus stops and to pick up some food along the way so I could take an anti-inflammatory pill.  By the time I finally got up the stairs to my flat, I admit I was whimpering fairly pitifully, and only stopped to get my ice pak before heading to my bed where I lay in positive agony.  I was terrified the physio had done more damage, I was in such pain.  

So the day today has been spent recovering from that brutal physio session… but I have to say, while I’m still much more sore than I was last night, I feel more confident about my ability to move tomorrow.  I know I felt the same way last night but I feel the alignment is improving… and that in turn is reducing the pain levels.  I’m hoping another night and a light day tomorrow may actually fix matters.

Of course, it will only ever be partly fixed.  I have a scoliosis and one leg is slightly longer than the other, plus I’m hyper flexible and have a high pain threshold.  The combination is not good.  The hyperflexibility and the high pain threshold mean that I throw my body around without realising I am doing it damage.  The scoliosis and the hip tilt (caused by one longer leg) mean that the natural response of my body to minor injuries is to continue to emphasise the S-bend.  The constant strain on the surrounding tissue means that unless I get regular adjustments and deep tissue massage to mobilise the vertebral joints, then this kind of neural attack will happen again.

It wipes me out for 2 days. At least.  I don’t want it to wipe me out again.  So what this means is that for the rest of my life, if I want to avoid this kind of pain I MUST have a fairly painful, but preventative adjustments.  So much for massage being about luxury.  For me, it’s a brutal attack on deep-set muscles, designed to correct the flaws of nature.  

Anyway – I want to thank everyone who has been kind enough to send good wishes these last couple of days.  It’s been a miserable and painful journey, but hopefully I am nearing its end.  Maybe then I can get back to the things that matter.  

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