I have been asked a lot about my back lately since this latest incident. It is tough to answer many of the questions because unless you have had something happen like I have you might not understand it.
Here are the most common questions / things I get about my back:
- What is the pain like?That is one of the hardest things to explain since it is not a consistent pain or sensation. It varies day to day, heck even minute to minute.
I have some permanent nerve damage from the initial injury. The damage from that basically took away the reflex in my left ankle. The doctors can bang the heck out of my Achilles, no response. The left two outer toes and pretty much a straight line from them to my heel constantly has a pins and needles / numbness feeling. I’m pretty much used to it but when my back flares up that sensation can intensify greatly!
The majority of the time I get what I can only describe as a pinching feeling that travels down my left leg. When I get that feeling I know I have a flare up. Depending on the flare up is how far the “pinching” will travel. Usually starts right in the butt cheek or just below and travels down to the back of the knee. If it goes farther then that…BAD NEWS!
Then there is the burning! My older sister has RSD and RSD is described a lot of the time as an INTENSE burning sensation. So when I get that feeling I always think of her and realize it can ALWAYS be worse. The burning usually comes along with the pinching sensation and follows it. Some times it goes up the back as well.
Pins and needles. This happens quite often as well. Follows the pinching / burning but spreads out a bit more. I have had where the entire front of my leg has that feeling along with numbness. In fact, I have poked myself with a needle once or twice when this happens and I can not feel the poke at all.
The newest sensation I had was Wednesday night of this week. It felt like someone was grabbing just my Achilles tendon and squeezing the heck out of it. Almost like it was in a vice.
General tenderness. I get a lot of tenderness in my hip region. Not just simple touch that area and I say Ouch! I’m talking touch that area and I am ready to jump off the examining table.
General aches. Another things that happens a lot when there is a flare up. I get a dull ache that will usually follow the other symptoms. This is probably the easiest to deal with and ignore but is just plain annoying.
- What causes the pain?Another tough one because it can be anything from rolling out of bed, bending over to pick up a piece of paper, standing, sitting, walking, grabbing something out of the fridge. This morning I got a jolt that fired down my leg when the truck shifted as I turned to go down an On Ramp to the highway.
- Why don’t you just do X to fix it?I would love to do X, Y or Z…. hell the whole alphabet if it would fix it. Each person’s injury is unique. Each person’s “triggers” are unique. Like I heard one of my therapists say…”the chance is always there now to have something like this happen again, you just have to do what you can in order to minimize that change.”
Nothing works on everyone. There are so many things my aquatic therapist has wanted to try but the timing isn’t right yet or she knows it will cause more issues. There are also things that work great for one person and the next person it puts them in intense pain.
I did physical therapy in the past and it did very little to help. Honestly last time I had my therapist so confused he pretty much gave up since everything we tried just caused further pain. Electrostim at therapy would work some times and not others. I even had been prescribed my own machine and it did absolutely nothing.
Two things have seemed to help the most.
A) Ultrasound…. but how practical is it to have to have that done all the time. Not like you can buy a machine for home and self administer it.
B) Aquatic therapy…. so far this has been the best thing for me. Between the weight being taken off of everything and the resistance of the water just seems to be the right combination to help. Insurance can be a bear when it comes to aquatic therapy though, which is a whole different story.
- Can’t you just take medication to help with the pain?Sure…..and you can feel like you aren’t yourself, you can start forgetting things, get wonderful digestive system issues, can not operate motor vehicles and possibly become addicted to some hardcore stuff.
Unfortunately you can’t just pop an Advil or Ibuprofen and call it a day. Nope you have to take things that you have to hand deliver to the pharmacist.
Then there is the whole building up a tolerance. For some reason my system builds up a tolerance QUICK. I can take a pill that will knock someone else out one day and it will make me drowsy and the pain goes away. Two days later the same pill is like taking a vitamin and does absolutely nothing for the pain.
All in all it just SUCKS! I wish there was some magic pill, experimental therapy, cybernetic implant (Yes….I’d take Weapon X up on an offer), brace, injection, medication, yoga, exercise, essential oil, holistic thing, massage, Reiki, etc…. that would be amazing. Unfortunately there is nothing like this or if there is it isn’t available to the general public. Maybe there is some crazy operation available in some other country but who really knows.
Oh yeah… the other thing that goes along with this whole thing is the frustration. It’s hard to not be able to live your life like you would want to. After this last incident am I going to be able to rough house with my 2 year old? Am I going to be able to show my children things I used to do? The feeling you have when your child just wants you to pick them up to comfort them…no fun! Seeing my pregnant wife needing help and myself feeling helpless…no fun! Give piggy back rides? Am I going to ever be able pass on my martial arts training to my kids? Am I going to be able to continue to ride motorcycle? Am I going to be able to go on my crazy adventures to get that one tough to-get photo?