Ah, dear readers, I hope you’re sitting comfortably before we begin this tale of horrors and woes?
Oh. (Clenched teeth grating tigerishly)… (mine that is, not yours of course!) Good.
I’m SOOOO glad about that.
Actually, I was just trying on a wicked, evil persona for a moment there… in case you detected just a soupçon of sarcasm. A wee, teeny-weeny dollop of me saying the opposite of what I really mean, which is to imply of course that I DON’T want you to be sitting comfortably whilst reading this exposé of the alternative medicine arena. Well, why should YOU be comfortable? Hah! The cheek of it!
I should probably give you a short run-up here. A little explanatory note that may reveal sufficient information to enable you to at least empathise a little with my predicament.
You may recall that I told you a tale of the unexpected a short while ago now. This recounted the frankly eerie nature of the conception of our Neanderthol, otherwise known as Toby, our soon-to-be-seventeen-year-old son. He who was a gift to us all, a precious, longed for and much anticipated goodie, bestowed upon our family at a time when we didn’t know we needed such a magnificent lagniappe! Oh, yes! How we all doted upon him, for very different reasons!
However, one detail I chose to omit from the telling of that particular tale was the physical onslaught that my poor body suffered during his earliest formation.
I was thirty-four when we discovered that a baby had been conceived. I’d had two children previously, both birthed naturally (with some oral pain relief, of the gas-and-air variety, followed by that stalwart of the delivery suite – Pethadine). But that was a long, long time ago when I was a mere slip of a child myself (no, no, of course I was an ACTUAL adult!) – my first born popped out three days shy of my nineteenth birthday, followed by her sister just eighteen months later. So I was much, MUCH more everything way back then … more agile, more flexible, more bendy, more stretchy, in short, more ‘youthful’. By the time this baby would be born I would have turned thirty-five, an age that is rather indelicately described by obstetricians as positively ‘geriatric’!
So, armed with this thought, I spent the seven and a half months of preparation before the Big Day doing everything I possibly could to ensure that the baby would grow properly, would be born healthy and with all the requisite phalanges and other limbs. I submitted to a regime of vitamin pills that included folic acid (of course), iron tablets (I’m pretty much always anaemic ordinarily anyway) and a range of other vitamins deemed essential for pregnancy in the form of a tablet the size of a horse. No. Really. That big. True story. AND I took these things three times a day! On top of eating well – nothing too fatty or overly rich, lots of pasta and rice with omega 3-rich salmon and enough vegetables and fruit to start a market stall. I gained exactly the right amount of recommended weight (not more than 26lbs) and was indeed feeling as strong as an ox.
My Chinese zodiac animal is an ox. It’s very apt really because I have always been very, very strong, physically. I could carry heavy stuff all by myself from a very young age. I could lift cars with one hand whilst typing the words to ‘I am what I am!’ and ‘I Will Survive’ simultaneously with my other hand, doing a Rumba (or a Quickstep), in four inch heels and BACKWARDS dahlink! Of course, it’s a little tricky to get diamante dancing slippers when you’ve got four cloven hooves, but hey, life isn’t meant to be easy!
Oops, there I go again, wandering off the point there… where was I? Ah, yes, just about to hit the 28th week of pregnancy.
No one had thought to warn me of what would happen at twenty-eight weeks gestation (or thereabouts). I’d had two perfectly normal pregnancies before and this hadn’t been mentioned then either. So I had no idea it was even a *thing*. I thought I’d got it all sewn up, fine and dandy, thank you very much! I had purchased an updated copy of ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ amongst many other helpful tomes on the subject AND, what’s more, I read them all, cover to cover. I wasn’t going to get caught out with stuff I didn’t know. I was a ‘GERIATRIC MOTHER’ this time round, which had at least one advantage. I knew stuff.
And so, at the very turn of the day when I was officially twenty-eight weeks gone, the sudden onset of violent, excruciating, grinding pain in my lower back could mean only one thing. I was going to die. My baby and I were toast.That’s why it wasn’t listed in the book. They don’t like to worry innocent mums-to-be with such concerns. The likelihood is pretty remote and you wouldn’t really want to know about it anyway.
I didn’t die straight away. Actually, strangely I wasn’t comforted by this thought.
I recall that I crumpled rather inelegantly to the floor. Like I was a house of cards that had been decked by a wanton waft of wind. What happened next I’d rather not recall, but let’s just say it involved several sturdy male teachers struggling with a stranded whale to find a spot in the medical room where it could be put out of its misery.
It’s a wonder they haven’t all sued me for the cost of treatment to their spines as a result! Which, thankfully, so far they haven’t. And it’s seventeen years ago now, so I think I’m probably safe on that front.
Moving swiftly forward here, I was despatched home via the doctor’s surgery of course. Upon examining me, my trusted OBGYN announced that I had over-produced the hormone ‘relaxine’ which is normally produced at the 28-week stage of gestation for the express purpose of gently, steadily over the next twelve weeks, gradually allowing the ligaments/muscles/tendons (or whatever) in the sacro-ilium to relax little by little which in turn allows the pelvic bones to move apart sufficiently, in order to accommodate the progress of the baby down the birth canal and pop out to greet the world at the appointed date and time.
Now, my dear medical friends/ readers, I IMPLORE you to remember that I am in no way expert in any field of medicine, I am simply recalling the events that happened to me and explaining to you all as these were to me, in the simplest terms I could digest. Please, forgive me if I’ve got details wrong or if I’ve spelled things incorrectly – I’m old now and I’m pulling that card in too!
The upshot of this condition was that every time I moved any part of my body that was attached in any way to my spine I was in profound agony as all of the bones in my pelvis were now resting next to each other, with no cushioning ligaments, tendons or muscles to prevent the grinding, crushing or squashing of calcified bones against each other. Each movement was like chalk on a blackboard, literally and physically in my pelvis.
My doctor advised be to go lie down, flat on my back and to stay there for the remaining twelve weeks of my pregnancy, moving as little as possible in all of that time.
I can see you all wincing and pulling up your own pelvis’ in sympathy, for which I thank you all, deeply, from the heart of my bottom!
So, Toby was born (after 34 hours of labour… (yea, that was thirty four hours!) which is a whole other story, for another time) on Monday December the 16th at 3.56am. And the pain in my sacroiliac joints receded, just as the pains of childbirth always do. I notched it up to experience and thought that this would not concern me again.
And here we are today.
If you haven’t already, you might want to go get a glass of wine or a cuppa or something because this next bit’s the killer here. If you’re of a squeamish nature, may I suggest a short sojurn via FaceBook perhaps to play Scrabble or Bejewelled Blitz or some other distraction… a chat in the OGBF chat room may suffice… otherwise, I’m going to assume you’re made of strong stuff. Like me. 🙂
So, I’ve been in severe pain now for over eight months. It started with a nasty chest infection that caused violent coughing spasms that set the pain off in my shoulder, upper and lower back.
No one has connected the pains to my past history till now. We’ve just been medicating to mask the pain. And also to try to help with the accompanying depression that severe, chronic prolonged pain brings.
A few months ago my doctor told me that I’d be in pain for the rest of my life and all he could do to help me was to get the pain to a manageable level so that I could at least have some sort of a normal life. What a cheery soul he is.
I wasn’t impressed by this. I also wasn’t impressed with my own reaction, which was initially to give up, give in and start planning ways to ensure that that unending pain was in fact a foreshortened period. I’ve a very active imagination – you may have noticed! – and I have come up with a variety of plausible plans for ending it all. It’s really NOT like me to give up like this, I’m a survivor of the most basic kind. However, years and years of chronic pain coupled with a very bleak outlook was almost the final straw.
But I have fantastic people who love me and whom I adore – the most gorgeous family of individuals who inspire me to keep going. I could spend a great deal of time telling you how much they have meant to me, but I don’t want to get too mushy here. Plus, they’ll all get mushy too and then we’ll be swimming in mush and that would be unsightly, not to say hazardous so let me just say that my FAB hubby is the greatest, sweetest, most loving person I could ever hope to have in my corner and I am so glad he’s there. My fantastic daughters and of course my brilliant Neanderthol, make each day worthwhile and my beautiful grandbabies keep me smiling too. Thank you to all of them.
Thank you to all my friends who seem to be scattered to the far corners of the globe these days, but who remain constant, steady immutably my friends – visits from two of my dearest pals recently have reminded me how important they are all to me too.
And also, whilst I’m thanking people for being there, thanks go to the Farmies. That utterly bonkers bunch of creative gargantuans who I am very privileged to call my friends have all played their parts in keeping me sane.
So, it is with these great bedrocks for support that I embarked upon a visit to a chiropractor last Saturday. It was a fairly congenial event all told. We arrived and went through the rigmarole of medical history. One that I felt was best told through the medium of a comedic double act – when I forgot, My FAB hubby regaled our captive audience with minutia and between the two of us, I feel we managed to get a reasonable picture of how we’ve arrived at today’s problems; I can’t get dressed without hand-to-hand combat with my underwear; I can’t stand up for any great length of time; I can’t sit down for very long either; I take pills to help with the depression but I’m consequently really sleepy most of the day, meaning that I don’t achieve very much and the spiral of depression is fed thus; I cannot take any form of exercise that involves weight-bearing because my sacroiliac bones are too painful and I cannot go swimming for fear that they’ll launch a lifeboat thinking there’s a stranded whale about to be beached in the shallow end of the pool…the list goes on, but you get the gist!
Tim, the Chiropractor, listened and then examined me – declared I have one leg significantly shorter than the other and that I clearly have a significant twist in my spine – scoliosis of some kind. He found some extreme tension in my shoulders. He tapped my legs, my knees, my ankles, my wrists, my elbows and any other joint he could think of. He ummed. He pondered.
Then he tried to touch my sacroiliac and when he scraped me off the ceiling he decided that an X-ray was needed to investigate this further and with a relieved smile he referred me to ‘The Boss’ for an appointment on Monday Morning.
It was madness to get to Hull this morning for the appointment for a whole variety of reasons, but we arrived on the dot at 10.20am. I was mightily impressed as I was swiftly whisked into the ante-room to don the oh-so-fetching hospital gown, complete with ventilation at the back. Quite a lot of ventilation actually. Ahem.
Dr B appeared. He didn’t really look like a ninja at this point. Looks can be deceptive. The lovely Andrea (his assistant) gave me a bit of a shoulder massage and ‘worked’ on the sacroiliac area for a bit. It was a little painful, but I knew I’d feel better soon, so I wasn’t worried.
X-rays were taken and then discussed. He declared that since it doesn’t look like there’s any pathological reason why he can’t proceed with manipulation so it was time to get serious.
THAT’s when he shape-shifted into The Ninja.
Please bear in mind that my FAB hubby was observing all of this, so that he could help me with massages between treatments -so he said!
I was instructed to lie on my left side almost in a recovery position. Then my left arm was unceremoniously yanked up and across from under my body to lie at an awkward angle towards my right hip, where I was then instructed to clasp my hands together. My ‘flight or fight’ reflex was starting to get that tingly ‘on alert’ signal when Dr B climbed onto the table next to me, talking all the while and telling me to take a breath in and then exhale all the air out slowly.
And then he POUNCED on me like a rapacious tiger on a mammalian meal, when he hasn’t eaten for a week. PAM! BAM! KAPOW! He threw all of his considerable force into the attack.
Then he climbed back onto the floor and instructed me, very calmly, to assume the same position on my right side this time.
This was repeated a couple more times – boy did it hurt! Then he cracked my neck vertebrae several times (I’m surprised you couldn’t hear it – I thought my head had fallen off!)
But you know what… I got up, stood straight and tall for the first time in years and felt like a new woman. It was amazing. It was liberating in a way that I could not have imagined just a few moments before.
My Ninja Chiropractor is my new best friend. Sure, the effects have worn off a bit now and I’m sore, but I am going to get better each time. I’m more motivated to lose weight – I can go swimming and to hell with the calling of the lifeboats… I could probably outswim them anyway! I will be able to wear heels again one day. I will be the Dancing Queen once more.
Look out world… I’m BACK!
Thanks for reading 🙂