It wasn't really meant to be an easy living summer. It was actually supposed to be a working summer. There are many half completed jobs around my house. Most of them were started and abandoned by the man who used to live here. Several of them have been driving me nuts for years. Last summer was consumed by the legalities of ending a marriage and I was truly looking forward to spending this summer taking care of the many jobs that had been left incomplete.
First I painted a lattice fence at the side of my house. I think it looks fantastic!
I figured that I should do the same to the enormous, unstained for 8 (?) years, back fence. The stain even went on sale - surely a sign that I should get started!
The former man of the house has a bit of a gnome fetish. The summer before last he spent many many evenings digging a cliff into the side of the hill. I must have been watching too much LOST at the time, and the excavation which he claimed to be in preparation for a new retaining wall, was immediately labelled as his search for the secret hatchway to the world of gnomes. Regardless of it's actual purpose (cough avoidthewife cough), the excavation was left incomplete and I've lived with an impossible to maintain dirt cliff/weed pile for two summers. It had to go! By far the least expensive way to deal with it was to simply replace the grassy knoll. Thanks to some fortunate connections I was able to get a guy with a bobcat to come and re-grade the slope for me. The plan was for him to flatten and extend the slope to make it reasonable to mow, and for me to sod it over.
That was the plan.
About a month ago I pulled a couple of ligaments on the left side of my SI joint. I've done this before. Usually it happens in yoga when I push too deeply into a twisting stretch and discover that my own muscles can overpower my joints. The SI joint pain was killing me, and it kept slipping out of place so I took some time off yoga, went to my chiropractor/sports med guy (whom I've known for 17 years), and followed his directions. Warm up, do a series of mad cat/child's pose stretches, ice ice ice ice ice ice.... until my butt nearly froze off. Things started to feel pretty good, so I went back to yoga and did one very very gentle, pre-beginner level class... just to see. I was sore, and there were some things I didn't try because they hurt, but I made it through the class. Now believing myself to be on the road to recovery, I went back a few days later - same plan - just take it real slow and easy, no pushing.
Tai chi warm up.... nice and gentle... not bad.... but I can feel the stiffness in my lower back....
Sun salutations.... stretch up.... breath in.... swan dive into a forward fold.... shooting pain burning like liquid fire down my left leg!
I kept going, very very slowly and very gently, but every forward fold was absolute agony and I couldn't even attempt a low crocodile. (This in a woman who can easily touch the backs of her hands to the floor by her heels, and routinely does a full up-dog extension). Something was very very wrong. I left the class, trying not to cry until I crawled into my car. It was the most unbelievable, nauseating, searing pain, that just kept coming in waves. If I moved at all my back spasmed and created a fresh wave of agony on my whole left side. I spent the whole night with ice packs and as much advil as I could stomach.
By morning my left baby toe was numb. By afternoon the next toe was numb too. The next day there was a numb strip down the outside of my calf as well. This was definitely not good; I've never gone numb with an SI joint pull before. Scared, I went back to the doctor. The look on his face when I told him about my numb toes said it all. He checked me over, very gently and very carefully.
Slipped disc at L5.
Average healing time: 6 months +
Stop doing everything. No lifting or turning, and definitely no lifting and turning, no bending over, no carrying more than my purse and absolutely no going to the gym. NO YOGA. No RPM. No treadmill. No painting the fence. No laying sod. No vacuuming. No mowing the lawn. Just NO.
Because if I push this, and turn the bulging disc into a prolapsed disc, and put pressure on the motor nerve instead of just the sensory nerve, that can mean surgery and possibly permanent neural damage. Instead what I must do three times a day is warm up, do that series of mad cat/child's pose stretches for my still inflamed SI joint, and then add a series of crocodiles to attempt to push the disc back into place, and then ice for 2o minutes.
Briefly for those of you who aren't familiar with yoga poses: Mad Cat: kneel on all 4s, then squeeze your abs and hump your back up like a cat does when it's mad. Return to neutral. Repeat 10 times. Child's Pose: from all 4s, knees apart and big toes touching, push your bum back and down letting your arms stretch out in front or placing them at your side. Little kids often fall asleep like this - bum high, legs tucked under and arms out or down. These poses open the spinal joints promoting forward flexibility. Crocodile: lie on your belly with tops of your feet on the floor; place your palms flat close to your shoulders; gently press your shoulders up while leaving your lower body still. Work towards having elbows on floor with chin resting lightly in palms. Progress to Upward Facing Dog by pressing all the way up and lifting your thighs off the ground as well. These poses close the spinal joints and also promote spinal flexibility.
I've been really quite bummed out about it. Readers who know me personally understand what a goal-oriented person I am. I can call myself Type A, and know that it's both a strength and a weakness. It's very hard for me to give up my plans, and even harder for me to know I have to continue to live with this stuff for months longer. Not only that, but I can't do most of the things that need to be done on a regular basis around the house. Fortunately I have kids to help with that, but they're kids, and even with me nagging they don't do the job quite as well as I do. Not excited about the nagging either. He-who-dug-for-gnomes is going to come lay the sod for me, which I appreciate. #1 Son will be back from cadet camp at the beginning of August, and will do the fence, which I also appreciate. Frog will come and hook up my new outdoor faucet so that I can actually water the sod. The rest of the stuff will likely just have to wait.
I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity rather than a loss. I have many skills and talents, but doing nothing really isn't one of them, and sitting there on ice looking at the job I want to be doing is making me a little testy. My big accomplishment this summer is going to be healing. It may turn out to be the most challenging thing I've ever done.