In agony but determined to get better
I am a mother of two, 40 years old, mature student and currently in agony, but determined to get better. I can't remember what it feels like to be pain free!
The first time I noticed having a real issue with my back, was after giving birth to my second child, where I had what I referred to as sciatica for two weeks, when Georgie was a newborn. I could barely get out of bed and I did feel that my back was going to give way at any moment and did not feel confident carrying her incase I couldn't keep upright and dropped her. Thankfully this did not happen. I did not have any epidurals with this birth. When I gave birth to my son 5 years previously, I was in labour for two days and it was a very difficult delivery where I had epidurals, which I do not regret at all, even though I was warned that this would effect the strength of my back.
Both of my children were delivered naturally and the strain caused me to have irritable bladder to compliment my already irritable bowel which I had when I was in my early 20's. Does this indicate that I have quite early on been a stressful person? I am really laid back and deal with stress well and 'am a major optimist. I have had traumatic experiences in my childhood from 6 - 14 and I learnt to cope alone, so although being stressed I carried on looking like everything was ok to the rest of the world from a very young age, so maybe I feel stressed and hide it well, Im not sure.
Since 1999, the birth of my daughter, I have had bouts on and off of back pain/sciatica and have lived with it. I noticed that two and a half years ago (2008) I was getting back pain regularly and over time it has worsened. I have exercised and stretched for years working my core, upper and lower body muscles as well as improving my Cardio Vascular health, so I like to be active. I studied and qualified as an Advanced PT and specialised in many different areas such as Ante & Post Natal exercise and GP referral, being able to train people with lots of serious medical conditions. Even though I didn't do this as a job, I have been able to continue exercising, with the knowledge to do this carefully.
I worked as a massage therapist and was on my feet quite a lot and this is when the trouble really started to get worse. I am now a medical student and massage from home part-time. My back health is an issue for me as I can be thrown off of my degree which is medical related if my problem is not solved and I am not cleared by Occupational Health. It means so much to me to qualify and I would be devastated if that happened.
I have been suffering regularly now for nearly 3 years dealing with intense studying and stress at the same time. November 2010 I had such a severe episode with my back that I ended up in A&E and was virtually disabled. I have been seen a Neurosurgeon once and recently had an MRI scan. I am due to see my surgeon again soon. I was supposed to have Physio but never got it, but I have been written my own program which has helped to a point.
I have got to the stage that I am in agony every day and have had to take pain killers since November last year, which I am not happy about. I only take them when absolutely necessary, but unfortunately this seems to be at least once or twice a day. I take strong pain relief like tramadol which at first I could not touch as they made me feel terrible - spaced out, sick, and generally awful. They still do, but I have no choice now. I have even take my dosage of tramadol with Co-dydramol at the same time as the pain can be so extreme. I have only needed to do that a couple of times.
So there are things happening to me now, which I believe may be due to taking pain relief for this length of time. It would be interesting to know if anyone else has experienced any of the things I have.
1. I have have thrush ALL of the time now, to the point where it is rediculous. When I have a few days of no tablets it goes away, but if I use them again it comes back. Not taking them requires me to suffer a lot, but I really am trying. I read, think positively, get some fresh air, watch a movie, whatever I can do to get into a different mind set. My thrush hardly ever used to smell bad, but it was very itchy. I notice now its not itchy at all but smells a lot worse.
2. When I take tramadol I notice my muscles sometimes involuntarily twitch while I am at rest, so nerve signals seem to be being fired off without me wanting them too. This happens in my hands, feet or arms usually.
3. I never sleep when I take the tramadol but hover just on the edge of sleep and so the next day I feel like I have been up all night even though I was in a state of slightly odd relaxation.
4. I am currently menstruating and I always had heavy periods. After childbirth they calmed down but they have got heavier again. Not sure if thats due to not having had a child for a while (12 years ago) or because I am in my 40s..I don't know. I went to change my pad today the second I put it in a flood of blood so large was passed that the entire pad was blood soaked. I use the thickest most absorbant pads I can get my hands on and this had to be changed immediately. This has worried me as I am anaemic due to having the Thalassaemia trait. I take liquid Iron for this which I do think helps me. Can painkillers cause people to bleed more?
5. I get tingling in my hands and my fingers ache when my pain relief kicks in. I get tingling and numbness in my feet, toes, hands, arms and entire calf muscles on both sides even though my pain runs down my left side from hip to floor when I am not on any medication as a symptom of my back problem, but I seem to get a funny tingling in my hands and arm (particularly my right side) when I take the tramadol. This could be nothing to do with the medication I suppose.
I would love to hear about other peoples experiences particularly those who have experienced similar symptoms.
Sorry about the extensive information. I have noticed that my surgeon did not bother to take a full case history and I think this is a major mistake in understanding the true extent of an individuals problem.
I created an exercise routine that I do at home which I do in conjunction with the gym and when I am in too much pain to get to the gym, I make myself do this. I think it does really help to maintain a level of mobility to prevent me literally seizing up and I do believe the worse thing to do is to do nothing. Resting too much can work against people with back ache. Its getting the balance right.
Simple movements like shaking out the legs like athletes do before track races is feels so great, I can't express the relief that simple move gives me. Doing squats with no weights sliding your hands to the knees slowly is great as it strengthens the quads and weirdly relieves my back. I am able to carefully twist which relieves the thoracic region of my back which has become too tense. Even though twisting isn't recommended I tried a trunk twist exercise and realised that I was able to do it and in fact for me personally its a good exercise. Muscle tension may start in one place, but unfortunately surrounding muscles also become effected so my mid back is tense thanks to my lumbar spine problem. Stretching carefully is crucial and it really brings it home how muscles deteriorate like hamstrings and calves with pain such as mine.
I have discovered a nice routine that works for me. Overall mobility and flexibility in my opinion helps to relax you overall which helps you deal with pain more effectively. Its doesn't cure anything, but it does help. I have carefully chosen exercises which work with my back problem and I swear by them. I think its a good idea to research some exercises, try them out and you will find ones which will put a smile on your face when you get a moment of relief. Write them down in a mini routine which you know you will stick too, that doesn't take too long and trust me, twice a day and you will notice the difference and feel more confident when moving around. Im still in agony, but at least Im trying to help myself which I think is psychologically beneficial.
I used to have a sauna and steam at my previous gym and I used to use them every time without fail when I exercised. The heat from the sauna particularly, really helped me.
Now my new gym near near my house doesn't have a sauna. I have noticed that my body takes longer to recover from work outs and I feel less relaxed after exercise compared to before. I am actually going to change to a more expensive gym - which I don't really want to do as Im on a budget, but I believe that going back to my sauna routine would really help.
I have to ride 10 to 15 minutes to get there which is no bad thing with my condition and although less convenient it will be worth it. I really do believe getting heat into the muscles for me personally makes such a difference.
Thank you for your time.