About My Back

I’ve been complaining and whining here about my back for the last month or so, but I finally understand what happened and why, what I have to do to get well, and how long it’s going to take.

My current back injury is a long-term result of a catastrophic accident that occurred over 17 years ago. Two months after bringing WenYu home from China, I tripped over the baby gate we had installed at the bottom of the stairs in our house. My left kneecap hit the hardwood floor and shattered into five pieces. Before surgery, the doctor told Brett and I there was a possibility it could not be saved, and that I might not walk again. But, the doctor did a superb job and was able to repair the kneecap. It took a long time to heal, along with months of physical therapy. I can walk now, which is the most important thing, and will forever be grateful to the surgeon who repaired my knee, but there are things I’ve never been able to do since the accident, or do easily, like run, or walk down stairs or hills, or get up and down off the floor easily (which was hard when the girls were little).

Although I appear to walk normally, I’ve actually been favoring my broken knee ever since, and over the years developed a wicked case of bursitis in my hips, especially my right hip. It’s been getting worse over the past couple of years to the point where after walking for around a half hour or so I experience intense, burning pain. Over time my body has come up with all sorts of strategies to protect both my knee and my hips, and my current back problems are directly related to the bursitis in my right hip. During my long day of travel at the end of August, I hurt my back because I was protecting my hip which was still trying to protect my knee. Both my doctor and the physical therapist said a large knot had formed in my lower back, a mess of muscle and nerves.

After my first PT session I felt awful. The session itself hadn’t been painful, but I felt like the therapist had opened up a bag of poison that had been growing inside of me. I came home and slept for two and half hours, the longest nap I’ve ever taken, and the next morning I woke up feeling more sore than I had in weeks. But, as I went through the day I began to feel better and better and with a couple of exceptions I feel like I’m finally on the right track.

Besides helping my back to heal, the therapist and I will be working on retraining my back and hips so that the bursitis won’t flare up again, or at least not as much as it does now. The physical therapist will be using massage and exercise over the next few weeks to get things back to where they should be. The very good news is that I don’t have arthritis or spinal problems, which was a concern.

It’s going to take several weeks to accomplish the PT goals. I have to continue to spend time lying down, more than I would like, to rest my back. I’m going to have to resist trying to get up to “do it all” again. I felt good enough to go to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, but that proved to be a mistake and I came home in agony. So, short walks and small chores will be it for a while still. Brett and YaYu will continue to take over most of the household duties until I can ease back in to them.

I dislike being sick or injured, so I will get better. There’s a whole world waiting for me out there!

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10 thoughts on “About My Back

  1. Vivian Gibson says:

    It’s o.k. to put yourself first for a while. My mother frequently tries to do too much and then pays for it later. I’m glad there is no permanent injury and it is fixable. That’s a really big deal. Take care.

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    • Laura says:

      Yes, the determination that it’s not arthritis or a spinal issue was the best news.
      I feel like a total slug though – I try to get up and do a little each day, like wash the dishes, or make the bed. It doesn’t take long, doesn’t hurt, and lets me feel like I am contributing.

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  2. Hawaii Planner says:

    So happy you know what’s going on. I feel like that’s half the battle. Take care to really relax, let your body recover, and then learn how to avoid future pain. It’s hard to retrain you body, but worth it!

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    • Laura says:

      The therapist wants me to keep a journal to help me learn to listen to what my body wants versus what I want to do. Good advice! We’re also thinking that Pilates will be a good direction to go after PT – strengthening my core can only help keep this from reoccurring.

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  3. Janette says:

    WOOOHOOO! A good dr and physical therapist working on you at the same time. I was praying you would not come up with those terrible words, “back surgery”. Take the time- it is worth it! Think of it as long term health insurance.

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    • Laura says:

      I cannot tell you how happy I was to hear that this is something that can be healed, that it’s not permanent. It’s going to take time more than anything, and it’s an effort to keep myself from getting restless and doing too much.

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  4. Bob Lowry/Satisfying Retirement says:

    I had to endure PT once and hope to avoid any future episodes for as long as possible. One session makes it painfully clear in what poor shape we are in. You are so lucky to come through that accident and everything since with both the ability to move and the attitude to beat the problem. Good for you, Laura.

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    • Laura says:

      PT = Physical Terrorism! That’s how I felt about PT after I broke my knee. It was necessary but oh so excruciating. My therapist this time is very gentle, and maybe best of all, I get to look out the window at the ocean while she works. It’s VERY soothing!

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  5. Laurel says:

    So glad you’re finding relief, even if it takes time and you have to ‘lay low’. Like you, I don’t stay still easily, and I know how hard it is. But it’s SO good to find you don’t have arthritis and can be helped. Sending good thoughts for continued progress!

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