After my last post I returned to training in surf lifesaving on a surf ski. This involves sitting pulling a paddle through the water with flexion and rotation of the back. Not great for a recovering disc but I was going well. And then... I fell of my bike landing on the sore side. As our research shows discs are often worse the next day and sure enough the day after this fall I had severe left leg pain. I thought this was a flare up that would recover quickly (like I explain to my patients) and so after 3 days rest I rode my bike (remember it helped my leg pain before) 300m. This caused significant worsening and the onset of calf weakness (I couldn't stand on my toes) as well as foot numbness. The next 4-6 weeks was a dark a place as I think I've ever been. After recovering well, my injury deteriorated further than I thought possible and all I could do was rest (mostly on my stomach over a bean bag) and take Panadol Osteo, Lyrica and Voltaren. A 2 week trip to Noosa (after a very very long drive taking breaks every hour to lie down) proved the circuit breaker and through swimming, core training, very gentle yoga and eventually some bike riding I began to regain some function. However I still struggled to walk more than 100m.
But that was only the beginning. I had booked a 50th celebration in New Zealand and Fiji with friends and family... a once in a lifetime experience of surfing, fishing and mountain hiking. I had to set a plan to get myself right by December. This period taught me so much about the pain and distress my patients go through as well as the value of a carefully managed rehabilitation program. Almost incredibly I achieved my goal and had the best time of my life celebrating my 50th even though I'd lost so much fitness and had put on 10kg.
I am now back in full training and did pretty well at the recent state titles. The year of my back injury placed an enormous burden on my friends and family; resulting in strains that only now are being rectified. I am still frightened of my back recurring but have learned so much about how to manage my problem long term. I'm optimistic!
Hopefully my story can help give hope to the patients I see every day. If nothing else it has helped me to understand the difficulties they face with severe persistent pain. For that I am grateful.