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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Bad Back

Mom used to say (in her last 10 years - 74 to 84 years) that "growing old isn't for sissies".  She had to stop playing golf at 75,  couldn't write letters at 76 or so, couldn't type letters after 78, and sufferred from Parkinson's Disease after that.

Dad felt the same way, but he was healthy to 90 and faded quickly over 2 years.  I like his pattern better...

OK, I'm "only" 67, but I'm beginning to understand what she meant.  It isn't so much that you are going to die someday (we all will), but the accumulation of small and large problems is hard to accept and get used to.  And the minor problems of middle age just get worse.

I've always been "annoyingly healthy" (no colds, no flu, no broken bones, no migraines, etc).  But as a single person determined to tackle hard work alone, strained muscles are a routine of my life.  Sometimes, I push my body a bit too far.  I usually get over it in a day or two, but sometimes not.  I threw a rock at a squirrel 30 years ago and strained my right rotator cuff.  Couldn't lift my arm above my head for months.  But it healed.

I stepped on a rock wrong once and limped for a week.  It healed.  Whenever I strain a mucle, it heals.  I'm just used to that happening.  I do something, it heals.  I don't bruise.  Cuts heal in a day.  You get used to that happening.

I think partly that it is because I age slower than most people.  I matured  slowly in high school behind the other guys.  Some of the athletic types were shaving at 14.  I didn't have to until college.  When they looked 30 in college, I looked 16.  I resented it then, but I like it now.

But time is catching up to me.  I first noticed that, when I twisted around doing work, I would sometimes get a muscle cramp in my side.  Then both.   I have always had a slight back problem, but it got worse over the decades.  I get muscle cramps in my legs while laying in bed.

The males of my paternal side live to old age in relative health (85+).  The males on the maternal side do not (65+).  I suppose I will average that.

My point is that I think I've hit the point where things start to go downhill.  Monday, I woke up after doing no particularly heavy work the day before, and I COULD NOT STAND UPRIGHT.  That was a shock.  I expected that I had just slept in a bad position all night.  But even after a hot shower, it didn't go away, and I limped around all day.  The pain was slightly behind the left hip.  Not the joint, the muscle.

I took a double dose of Ibuprofen, which helped.  Standing erect (once I stretched enough) was sort of OK,   Bending over was troublesome; bending back up was harder.  I discovered doing leg squats was the easiest.

I have Ibuprofen because I had one attack of gout in the 90s and aspirin was contra-indicated for that.  The Ibuprofen instructions say 1 pill per 4-6 hours, but the doctor then said 2 were just fine (unless there are problems) and I follow that.  I'm drug-resistant, so I need stronger doses.

And interestingly, the "bad" knee I've had for 10 years has been just fine lately.  When one problem arrives, another one goes away.  And I haven't had leg muscle cramps in weeks.  Maybe that's because I've been eating a banana each day or because I just haven't been able to work hard in the yard.

So here is the situation.  My back is not getting better.  But I'm NOT going to the doctor office while the flu is widespread.  Maybe I've never caught the flu, and I got the annual shot (started doing that only when Dad came to live with me, but decided not to stop), but it seems the current flu shot has only a 30% effectiveness and if I catch a bad case, there isn't anyone here to help.  So I will wait to heal the back.

At least I've learned to adjust to it somewhat.  If I stand erect most of the day, it lessens.  I even did some woodworking today.

So I'm expecting it to just heal naturally and not notice it suddenly in a few more days.

Meanwhile, it is annoying.  The birdfeeder and suet basket were empty this morning.  I dragged out the 8'ladder to refill it.  It sure didn't feel great!  But I managed it.  Life doesn't stop just because my back hurts.  The birds need the food.

I expect that, in a few days, I will feel back to normal.   But not today, and not tomorrow.

When I'm 77, this may be more of a problem.




7 comments:

Megan said...

Yes, Mark - now that I know some old people, I can see that life can be more demanding, even for those who are in good health "for their age"!

Personally, I don't think a doctor would be much help for a back problem. I'd see a physiotherapist. Not only can they treat you on the spot and provide immediate relief, they can also advise you about what's going on, give you exercises that will speed your recovery and help you avoid a recurrence. I think that's worth risking a flu for (and, I guess, you're less likely to pick up the flu at a physio than you are at a doctor's).

I hope you're fighting fit again soon.

Megan
Sydney, Australia

Memories of Eric and Flynn said...

Back pain is miserable. I had a slipped disc years ago. I used to soak hay nets for one of the horses with a breathing disorder.I knew it was far too heavy for me to lift out to drain afterwards, but stubbornly I would do it. I paid the price.
My doctor wanted to refer me to have an op on my spine but I refused it. There is far too much that can go wrong in that area and I didn't want to chance it.
Now I still periodically get back pain but can usually feel when it will be problematic, so take it easy and most times it passes on without too much trouble.
I hope your back will soon settle down again, and in the meantime you have my complete sympathy.

Mary McNeil said...

It happens to all of us...your attitude seems about right - especially for someone alone, with dependents to care for." Just keep on keepin' on."

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

I am glad you are starting to feel a little better. When you are healed, please get a turmeric supplement ( I order mine from Swanson online) and a lot of your aches and pains will go away. Maybe the water bed is not a good thing as you age??

Karen Jo said...

I am sorry for your back pain. I have a touch of arthritis in my sacro-iliac and it doesn't like me to bend over much, so I understand a little of what you are going through. I hope that you continue to get better day by day.

William's Kith & Kin said...

What I learned from my back injury 8 years ago:

The prescription amount of ibuprofen is 800mg (four OTC tablets) every 12 hours. That might help even more; just drink plenty of water.

Rest!

Physio is fine if it's a muscle problem. If it's an undiagnosed disc problem, that can make it way worse. That I know from personal experience. (Mine was that, and it took months and a bunch of stupid hoops to finally get a referral to a spine specialist. I wound up getting a shot in the spine to help it heal.)

And maybe a break from the water bed will speed things up?

Pretinha said...

Mark espero que você tenha melhorado da dor nas costas.
Tente repousar.