Hi. My name is Happy Fun Pants. I have chronic back pain.
The back pain that I have is outrageous at times. It's mostly on my left side where the bra line is going horizontally across my back. The pain is acute - and when it hurts, it hurts badly and NO position makes the pain go away. At night, it's like a toothache - it never really goes away and some movements actually make the zing of pain even worse.
The funny thing is, when I get up and move around, the pain is gone. My back doesn't hurt during the day...but it hurts so badly at night.
At first, when this popped up about three years ago, I thought I had just tweaked a muscle in a bad place. It would hurt for a few days a month (never at the same time during the month) and then go away for a few months.
Unfortunately, it started hurting so badly for weeks at a time. A few years ago, it got so bad that I'd resist going to bed - because I knew that once I laid down to go to sleep I could sleep for an hour or so and then the horrible pain would be back.
Then, as mysteriously as it arrived, it would go away.
I eventually decided that my weight had something to do with it. I lost 35 pounds but the pain still hadn't subsided on a regular basis.
So I bought a new bed. A new Sleep Number $3600 bed. According to the salesperson, the new bed was supposed to solve all of my back problems. It would be like sleeping on the pelts of unicorns! The new bed would follow me all during my life - through any change that my body might go through - pregnancy, amputation, or old age. The new bed would make it easier to get laid and might even make IBS issues resolve themselves! The new bed could run for president! The new bed was the answer to my prayers! So I bought into the hype. I figured that it would allow me to make the bed more soft or hard and since I didn't know what would help, a bed that could do both seemed like the best solution. I paid for the bed and prayed that my car wouldn't break down so that I wouldn't have to call my boss and say "So I can't come into work today because my car broke down...but hey! I got a good night's sleep on my Sleep Number bed!"
For a long time it worked most of the time. I even dropped another 15 pounds. But it got bad again.
At the beginning of the year, I went to go see my doctor about it. She thought that the pain was due to muscles between my ribs (aggravated by a recent snowshoeing trip - or more accurately a recent snowshoeing fall) and prescribed me muscle relaxers to take the pain away. I'm not sure if you've ever been on muscle relaxers, but WOW do they knock me out. Like, one night on it and it occurred to me that I should start sleeping in adult diapers because if I had to pee, I was pretty sure I wouldn't wake up (go to bed in fear of ensuing back pain and wetting the bed - yay!). They mostly stopped the pain but I would have to take them each night. And being addicted to muscle relaxers wasn't on my list of New Year's Resolutions. I stopped taking the pills.
As great as it's been to live at Joe's, the back pain has gotten worse.
So I made a few appointments to see a chiropractor (who had the worst case of coffee breath EVER) that my co-worker recommended. He took X-rays, cracked my back and told me that it was due to bad posture. But when I described the pain (which again, goes away during the waking hours so it's hard to do), I didn't get the feeling that he GOT what was wrong. When I said that I wasn't interested in seeing him at a $50 co-pay three times a week for 8-12 weeks, he got huffy (which again made me want to puke due to the horrendous coffee breath) and pissy (which made me wonder if HE should be wearing adult diapers).
So I saw my doctor again who said that some people just had this type of pain and suggested that maybe I should just rest it a lot.
I've tried heat and I've tried ice (now all I can think of are the lyrics "I've seen fire and I've seen rain") all to no avail.
The thing is, every night the pain would get worse and worse.
Randomly, I talked to my co-worker about it who said that he had had the exact same pain and that he saw a physical therapist for his pain.
Grasping at straws, I saw the physical therapist that he recommended and found out the ugly truth: I have buns of steel.
Basically, what's happened is this. I don't stretch before or after I run. I don't stretch during the day while I'm sitting at my desk at
prison work. So the muscles in my butt and my hips are tight...so tight that they pull on my back muscles - which get fatigued and sore from being pulled on all day long. So at night? They rebel. They siphon liquor from the liquor cabinet, replace it with water, and then go steal a neighbor's moped to ride around on for hours without calling you to let them know that they are safe. At night my poor back muscles quit and throw a fit and refuse to hold up my own body.
'Member those insults that we threw around as kids? Stuff like "Yo' momma is so fat that she needs her own zip code!" and "Yo' momma is so fat when she walks, she causes the sidewalk to crack!" Well, that's how I feel about this part of the post.
My butt muscles are so tight that they cause me to wake up in pain night after night. My butt muscles are so tight that it takes a masseuse over half an hour to get them from "OMG this is tight!" to "Wow this is kind of tight."
So I'm seeing a physical therapist on a weekly basis. I do exercises with resistance bands at home to try to get other muscles stronger so they can help take the load off of my back muscles. I get monthly massages, which sounds nice until you realize that they are less relaxing and more like "Lady, if you dig any deeper into that muscle, I'll punch you in the face." I'm also supposed to stretch out both at work and at home several times a day. The main areas I stretch are my glutes, my upper hamstrings, and my hip flexors.
The good news is that I can sleep now without pain most nights.
The mornings that I wake up in pain (like this morning) are because I didn't stretch the night before.
My hope is that someone else who is suffering from this chronic and horrible band of pain in their back will somehow stumble upon this blog and find out that physical therapy can help. Stretching your butt and hips can help. Strengthening the muscles around that your back can help.
And as a last resort, consider stocking up on muscle relaxers and adult diapers, just in case. I'm just saying.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Hi. My name is Happy Fun Pants. I have chronic back pain.