Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Update on my back injury

It has been about a month since I first hurt my back. Last week I thought I could return to work. Boy was I wrong. I worked half-days in the office, then returned home to work in the afternoons. I was not very productive, and I managed to undo much of the progress I had made in physical therapy (PT).

Lots of friends and colleagues thought I was nuts for trying to go back to work. Here's why I wanted to try: My goal is to be able to return to work full time. That's where my road to recovery is supposed to end. When I began down the road, I made gradual progress at home until I was finally able to move around and to sit awhile without pain. It seemed like I had made all the progress I was going to make on this part of the road. The next step towards that ultimate goal would be to head back to work, and gradually make progress on that new part of the road. It turns out that I was simply not ready. My first day back was not too bad. The next day was harder. By the 4th day I wished I could stay home. The last day I called my doctor and told him I couldn't do this anymore. I had expected to find each day a little easier than the one before, but when that didn't happen I knew it was a mistake.

So now I've returned to disability and my full time job is to get better. I have PT three times a week, and until I went back to work it had delivered vast improvements for me. If I continue making progress like that, I shouldn't need any aggressive treatments. No injections, no surgeries... that's what I'm hoping for. I'll always have to be careful with my spine to avoid re-injuring it, but I really hope this will be an acute injury that won't become a chronic pain issue.

In addition, my company has agreed to buy whatever office chair my therapist recommends. Our standard office chairs are perfectly comfortable for healthy people, but not for injuries like mine. My mom suggested a great comeback for the smart remarks that are sure to come from coworkers who are sure to envy my new groovy chair: "I'd gladly trade you my chair for your healthy spine." So there. Remind them that this is not a luxury item -- and that it's not what I would have chosen. I'm totally planning to use that line.

Right now, without causing pain, I can do light housework, or sit with regular posture for about a half an hour, or sit in a recliner for about 3 hours (in 45-minute chunks), or stand for about an hour. If I do more than that, I become very uncomfortable and I have to lie down and rest for several hours. If I'm somewhere that I can not lie down, like when I was at work or if I'm driving, I have to take a painkiller to sustain me until I CAN lie down. Most days I don't need painkillers. Which is good for many reasons, one of which is that alcoholic beverages are contraindicated. Heh.


  1. Yeah, in my experience with injuries, you definitely do not want to push it. Try to enjoy your time off.

  2. I would try to come up with a line that's funny as well. Like "They we're going to make me VP, but I told them I'd rather have this chair." or act real mad that they didn't get your surround sound and wet bar installed yet.