This is the first time I've ever blogged from bed.
I hurt my back while exercising last Tuesday. I immediately stopped and decided to take a couple of days to relax, hoping the pain would subside.
Which it did.
Friday I was feeling well enough to exercise again but only a few minutes in, I felt a different kind of pain in my back, much worse than the earlier strain.
This time, I knew I was done for a while.
The pain only got worse over Saturday. I couldn't go anywhere so I again decided to take a couple of days to relax, hoping the pain would subside.
Which it didn't… much.
While the pain did go down ever so slightly, on Monday I started noticing tingling in my right leg.
I waited a few more days to see if the situation would get any better but the numbing feeling wasn't go away.
It was time to visit my doctor.
The doc conducted a few simple tests on me after listening to my story: first he had me lie down and raise each leg as far as I could. I could raise my left leg without any problems, but my right leg I could barely lift.
Next was to have me tiptoe, and that wasn't hard.
Finally, he had me walk on my heels. I could only do it on my left heel as my right foot would immediately drop down flat on the floor every time I put down my right heel.
That was all he needed to see. “Congrats! You've got a herniated disc in your lower back.”
No sports or other physical activity and one extreme painkiller per day that I have to take after a meal to avoid stomach problems.
And if I don't? A CT scan and possibly a little thing called surgery.
So here I am! For the first time in 10 years of JobMob, I'm blogging an article while lying on my bed.
I don't know if this is what will be happening for the next 4 weeks, and a lot will depend on how the treatment goes.
In the meantime, I have to figure out how I can get things done while horizontal.
My wife is already making jokes about how she feels sooooo bad that I need to lie down and relax for a month…
So how am I blogging this?
If you're curious, I'm using my smartphone while talking into a Google Doc using Google voice typing as my keyboard.
It's actually pretty cool! It types pretty quickly although I probably need to speak 20% slower than usual so the software can keep up. And I definitely need to follow it up with more proofreading than usual.
What do I have planned for the next month of bed rest?
Besides hoping it won't really be a whole month (or more!) I don't know yet.
Right now I'm definitely most comfortable when lying down. If I stand, my right leg starts falling asleep. If I sit, my right leg starts falling asleep AND I get the added bonus of extreme lower back pain whenever I get up.
My doctor said that if I follow his prescription, I should be able to sit down more comfortably soon enough. Which means I might get back to working on my laptop sooner than later.
In the meantime, I'm going to rearrange my priorities and experiment with different ways of working with my smartphone. Now seems to be a good time to start making videos instead of long blog posts, who knows? That, and outsourcing.
Update: July 2018
Looking back one year later…
The key advice that helped me get better came from my sister, my brother-in-law and an old friend from high school who is a physiotherapist.
My sister said that I should sleep with a pillow under my thighs, forcing my legs to be raised, releasing pressure on my lower back.
My brother-in-law recommended that I do the exercises in the video below, because they helped him with this own back problems:
My old friend from high school confirmed the above good advice but clarified that I should do the exercises every 2 hours, and I used a timer on my smartphone to remind me regularly.
She also said that my doctor was incorrect to prescribe so much bed rest, because with a herniated disc, the right exercise is what will help the fluid dissipate in the disc, lowering the inflammation that was pushing against nerves in my spinal cord.
And she was right, of course: the strong anti-inflammatory pills lead to less pain, but it was the regular exercises that led to progress within a few days, and within a week I was able to sit again without too much discomfort.
I continued with the exercises for another few weeks until I stopped taking the anti-inflammatory pills and 95% of the pain was gone.
A few weeks after that, I went back to exercising regularly, just like before this whole story began, but very quickly I decided to change regimens to something that put less stress on my lower back.
Ultimately, it took almost 6 months for me to feel full normal again.
This was another video I found helpful:
Question of the article
Have you ever had a herniated disc?
Do you know anyone who has?
Tell us in the comments. I'd love to hear how you or they got through it.