Monday, 12 May 2014

Bad back

Ooooh! Ouch! You may know the feeling. You've made some unwise movement that involves twisting your back. Or you've held an awkward position for too long. And your lower back protests. It's now happened to me again, and until mid-week I'll be stuck with a bad back.

For me, this is an occasional problem, unconsciously or stupidly self-inflicted, that I've been prone to since the 1990s (which was my Badminton Era, and opened the door to knee and foot injuries as well). Clearly I created a weakness at that time, and now and then I forget that I must be careful, and pain results. It doesn't help that old age is next on the agenda.

What did I do this time? I had just got up from my computer desk in the study, after a morning's work (I call it work, anyway). A blog post was written and published; and I'd then turned to something else. This involved reaching this way and that from a fixed seating position, as I consulted various papers. That stretching and torso-twisting must have done it. This time the pain was unusually severe, but nothing completely new, just a bigger version of the same old thing. An immediate rest, flat on my bed, reduced it to an ache that was bearable if I found the right position. It's still there as I write this, seated but propped upright with a big firm cushion. Any inadvertent stooping or other movement that tenses the muscles in my lower back rewards me with a twinge. So I have to remember not to. I'm coping. With care and technique, I will improve and quickly get back to normal. Thank goodness, the only essential event in the next few days is Fiona's annual service and MOT in two days time.

The most important thing now is to keep my spine in a straight line. Achieve that, and there is minimum discomfort, and the body can recover. The next most important thing is to take the strain off my lower back muscles. So if I sit down or get up, I use the muscles in my arms instead, to lower myself into position and to push on a couple of walking sticks. Three fortunate things here. First, Mum and Dad installed old person's grab handles in the bathroom and toilet, which I have left in place. I thought they might be useful post-op (they were), and they are wonderful to have right now. Second, I have a fine collection of walking sticks, originally in connection with serious rambling from 1991, but now as standby body support. It wasn't long ago that I put them all together in a tall pot in my porch, to keep them handy. I have reason to bless them just now. And third, my parents had a number of gadgets designed to ease problems for the physically impaired. One of them was a short pole with a handgrip and a pincer-like arrangement at the far end. Pulling a trigger on the handgrip closes the pincer. This is amazingly useful for getting hold of things with handles, or in packets, low down in one's fridge, or indeed anywhere. You can pick up bathroom mats with it. You can pull your knickers on with it. The pincer is delicate enough in operation to pick up little bits of fluff from the carpet. The ideal avoid-stooping device!

I've composed this post on my tablet, offline, using an html text editor. I've then connected to my home Wi-fi, copied the text to Blogger, and this is the result. Obviously tapping a near-horizontal screen just inches away with my fingers involves no further back strain. But a proper session of computer work in the study will have to await my recovery. It does seem to me that Microsoft made a big ergonomic error introducing touchscreen input to desktop PCs with Windows 8. All right for a laptop maybe, but it can't be good for one's upper body to be constantly reaching forward to touch a vertical screen, not inches away, but a full arms-length distant. Or at least that's how it strikes me. I'm in no great hurry to forsake mouse and keyboard.

Now what next? I'm a bit limited for the moment. I rather think it'll have to be an indolent afternoon simply listening to the radio, or getting some kip. After settling myself into a medically-sensible position with sticks handy, of course, for when I get up. When hit by a situation like this, my personal reaction is to go immediately into recovery mode, and bring workarounds into play for necessary activities such as cooking. I don't see any virtue or sense in ignoring the body's plea for relief and space to mend itself in.


  1. So sorry to hear of your troubled back Lucy. It is something I know I am familiar with. Hope it gets better soon. Talking about MOT's, perhaps you should have one too eh? You know, a check-up at the doctor's surgery. In the meantime might I suggest a long soak in a hot tub? It works wonders for me.
    My youngest son has one of those long-reach claw thingymebobs and he's not yet thirty! How lazy is that at his age? LOL. Great idea though for the likes of me and you if we suddenly find ourselves incapacitated.
    Get well soon
    Shirley Anne x

  2. Thank you. My 'bath' is an old-person's walk-in version that you sit in while it fills up. I never do that. I just shower!


  3. I sincerely hope you get well soon, Lucy. There must be something in the air as just over a week ago I twisted myself the wrong way whilst decorating the lounge and got a nasty attack of Sciatica. Thankfully, it's gradually easing, but I'm still on occasional pain killers.

    O dear... is this what old age brings us?

    Angie x

  4. Nearly fifty years of that! Always strikes hardest when I think all is going well and I forget, reach out too far, once it was for a postage stamp, and a few days of life is lost...

    Paracetamol and a heat through, in a sauna if you can, does wonders for me.

    For me it is a rare chance to sit and listen to music or watch long ago recorded TV... Hope you are better soon.

  5. Take a look on posture right from lutaevono, its really good for easing back pain :)


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