Friday, March 11, 2011

The Perils of Housework

Living with aftershocks is a little bit like having a colicky baby in the house, sleepwise. Last night our earthquake baby awoke at the following times: 10.27pm, 11.23pm, 2.04am, 4.00am (that one was quite large and close), 6.11am, 6.34am and 7.07am. Need I say that waking up feeling fully rested is something I haven't felt in a while?

However, even with the slightly fuzzy feeling that comes with broken sleep, and the persistent lack of hot water (don't ask.. just.. don't..), I've been making an effort to keep a positive mindset and focus on moving forward strongly. Bucket showers aren't really that bad. Today, just to test my resolve, life threw another challenge at me, one that I really didn't anticipate. Meet my nemesis, the Dishwasher. *Cue 'Jaws' music*.

Leaping (?) out of bed this morning, I stumbled into the kitch for my morning espresso and noticed that I'd neglected to load the dishwasher *cue 'Jaws' music again* last night. I opened the door, slid out the dish tray thingy, grabbed a plate, spun around to rack it into the lower tray and.... ouch! Have any of you readers ever had a herniated disc? If so, then you will know that it is a very distinctive and unforgettable; a 'popping' sensation, followed by intense pain, immediate stiffening of the muscles and a severe lightheaded feeling that can make you pass out. I knew immediately what had happened, dropped to the floor and assumed 'the position', which is a sort of low 'cobra', for those that do yoga.

While agonising on the somewhat dusty kitchen floor (damn earthquake dust), I had time to reflect on what makes this injury different to the other three times I have herniated this disc (L5). The main thing is that I have been living pain free. No warning twinges, nothing. Secondly, I noted that it was not as bad as the other incidences. For the record, the other three times have been a) picking up my undies - this was a severe herniation that took about two years to come right, b) putting my niece on the floor when she was a baby, and c) dancing Salsa. Mentally feeling my way around my body, I observed that, apart from the pain around L5, and some buttock tingling, the only other real sign was numbness and prickling on the bottom of my left foot.

The reason for going into an extended back position is that most herniations occur in a 'backwards' position, toward the spinal cord. That is, they happen when you are leaning forward (flexing) and the disc is pressured at the front and blows out in the opposite direction, like a balloon if you stand on it. By assuming the reverse position of extension, the 'nuclear fluid' (goo inside the disc) should be encouraged to return to its proper place and not, for example, extrude further and actually touch the spinal cord - an experience which is definitely not on my bucket list.

I spent about half an hour immobile, in the extended position, until the pain subsided a bit. I had time to think about the why of this incident. My conclusion is that it's probably a symphony of things. I've obviously been tense, due to the quakes, and possibly the muscles are fatigued due to lack of sleep. I haven't been stretching or keeping up with my yoga. I've also been putting in the hours trying to catch up my study, hunched over my desk - something I know is not good for my back. In addition, I just got cocky - stopped paying attention to correct lifting technique (and I've been doing a lot of lifting during the last week, tidying up 15 or 25kg bags of stock). It's all a bit obvious, really. Like that guy on South Park, I have the gift of 20/20 hindsight.

Attempting to move was a bit nervewracking, but I experimented a little and discovered that I do have quite good motion in terms of being able to stand and walk. I can also sit fairly comfortably, which is unexpected, but awesome. I got on the phone to The Programmer and he offered to come home and take the orders for dispatch *insert loveheart icon here*. Driving tends to irritate a sore disc. Most car seats are the stuff of chiropractors' nightmares. The Programmer also offered to get dinner from a new kebab shop we discovered yesterday while scoping the neighbourhood for my community project. The test of a kebab shop is whether they can follow my instructions - no tomatoes, no capsicums, no chilies (those are nightshades, which don't agree with me). They almost got it. There were a few little tomato bits in the salad, but I just picked them out.

As a veteran of the disc injury, I'm not bothered with heading off for x-rays or yet another MRI. I can tell it's the same disc, same thing, only not as bad. My plan is complete rest for a few days to let the muscles calm down - the muscles tense up around the disc to protect the area, which is very good of them, but also causes a lot of the pain - then slowly start back with yoga and exercises to strengthen my weaknesses (butt, hamstrings), taking care for quite some time to avoid all flexing movements. And of course, don't get slack with such things as a too low desk or slap-happy dishwasher loading technique. The only way to heal a backward disc rupture is to keep a neutral or extended spine at all times, no bending forward, ever. It's a bit tricky at first, but is fully possible. Bend knees, brace abs, don't hunch, sleep with a lumbar roll. I've also got a kickin' it joint mix of my own design, which I've started taking. The whole protocol is very familiar to me and I'd expect a full recovery. Oh, and no housework. I'm sure that's an essential part of the process.

I'd also like to order up an immediate cessation of aftershocks, thanks. Does anyone know where I can download a form for that? If not for me then for my poor cats. They are so scared of that stupid, misbehaving house that they now sleep in the garden instead of on the bed. Does anyone know a cat psych?


  1. No, you definitely should NOT do housework. Nuh-uh, not under any circumstances. It could actually be fatal.

    Hope you have a remarkable recovery.


  2. Sara! You poor thing. I hope you get better quick smart.

    The kitties are cute..poor little guys but I bet they are getting waaay more sleep than you are? Maybe it's time to pitch a tent in the backyard?



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