Thursday, September 04, 2008

Heavy Lifting

A couple of weeks ago we had a septic backup into the basement. It was disgusting, and probably worthy of an entire blog post all its own. It was suddenly very important to get stuff out of the basement - stuff that is already wet and stuff that will soon get wet if it's not moved NOW. When boxes are soaked with yucky water, you tend to hold them away from your body. As everyone knows, this is not proper lifting technique. But it's exactly how I lifted those boxes.

I only carried a few things, because I hadn't been feeling very well that day. I had had breakfast and went back to sleep for half the day (I even missed the meeting), I woke up to help organize a few visits from the septic repair people, then ate dinner, then slept soundly all night again. The next morning was Monday, and without a working septic system, nobody got showers so we all stayed home from work. As soon as the repairman got it working again, I raced upstairs to bathe because I still felt filthy from the previous day's cleanup efforts. I sat on the shower floor to shave my legs, but that small stretch was the straw that broke the camel's back, though it was my back that stopped working.

I stayed in bed all day Monday, in pain but not emergency-room-level pain. The next morning the pain was equally bad, so I went to the doctor's. The problem was that I was home alone on Tuesday. I wouldn't leave my bedroom because it's the only place in the house that allows stair-free access to the toilet. In this condition I would need a ride to the doctor's office. I got in touch with someone from my congregation and the help swooped in quickly. Not only did I get a ride to the doctor in the middle of a weekday afternoon, but I got eight other visitors besides.

The doctor prescribed muscle relaxers and narcotic painkillers, and instructed me to take LOTS of Advil. Four times more than the labeled dosage instructions. The next day I got an x-ray, and an MRI a few days later. Results: two herniated discs in my lower back. Ugh. L4L5 and L5S1 will never be the same.

I have applied for short-term disability benefits (80% of my salary, wow!) and physical therapy has started. The therapy is exhausting. It doesn't hurt exactly, it just wipes my energy. In fact at this point, almost three weeks since the injury, I am free from pain most of the time. In order to return to work, I need to strengthen my muscles to permit longer periods of sitting. Right now I start feeling uncomfortable after sitting for 45 minutes. And "sitting" is a relative term these days. Really what I mean is leaning on a whole bunch of pillows with my feet on a stool. It's recliner-like sitting.

Right now, the plan is to visit the doctor tomorrow, regale him with tales of my astounding progress, and return to work on Monday. Let's see how it goes.


  1. Ow! I hope your recovery goes by fast. Physical therapy is alot of work.

  2. sorry. i know how that feels. i used to go to the chiropractors. but can not afford with current ins. your back goes owww. hope you get better.