Today has been, and still is, an uncomfortable and painful day. I am so thankful to be on days off right now, because I have also been incredibly tired. Earlier this week, Wednesday maybe, I attempted an afternoon nap, which was only moderately successful for at most ten minutes. This morning I laid down for a nap around 11:00 and slept, actually slept for an hour! I do not nap under normal circumstances, and, even during the worst days of this injury when night time sleep was minimal, I seldom had naps during the day. But I have felt exhausted a lot lately, especially the past two weeks as my schedule has been full. Yesterday was the final of five consecutive work days, which was a first for me since returning to work. Although the shifts were still short, they took a toll, especially with all of the appointments, later nights and early mornings.
I was unable to sleep in this morning, since I had an 8:30 appointment at the pain clinic for my caudal epidural steroid injection. That’s a mouthful! The appointment went well, I guess, although I don’t have anything against which to compare it. The pain doctor taking care of me is a female, but she has only done this procedure once or twice before, which meant a more experienced doctor (a male) was present to instruct and supervise. Baring my derriere is not something I am particularly comfortable doing; however, when one is heavily involved with medical care, you kind of get used to being uncomfortable. As I laid on face-down on the table, I got to listen to the conversation between new and experienced doctors.
“I know everyone has their own solution mix. What do you like to use?”
“With a spinal injection we want to be extra careful. Swab before the freezing. Swab again after. Use the ultrasound to guide the needle, but don’t let the gel get on the injection site.”
“Down a little more. No. Stop!”
The conversation was both interesting and disturbing. It was bad enough that I had been forewarned of the doctor’s inexperience with the procedure, but I really didn’t need the frequent verbal reminders and had to focus on making myself relax. I’m not afraid of needles and I couldn’t see the actual needle, but this wasn’t quite the same as withdrawing blood or getting a tetanus shot. I relaxed as best I could, and then the actual injection took place and I felt an uncomfortable pressure right above my tailbone. While it seemed to last a long time, it really didn’t. All told, from the moment I was ushered into the treatment room until I walked back out was only about fifteen minutes. I was given a pain diary of sorts to use until my follow up appointment in a month or two. My youngest son had the day off and drove me to and from my appointment, as it was mandatory to be driven home following treatment. And I’ve been taking it easy at home ever since.
Taking it easy, yes, but uncomfortable and hurting. My very low back area has been feeling stiff and sore all day, which I am assuming is from the actual injection. I am really hoping that this discomfort dissipates by morning, because it does not feel pleasant at all. So far there has been no change in the ever-present pains and symptoms in my legs, although it can apparently take several days before seeing results. The doctor also reiterated that this injection will not do anything for the permanent numbness in my left foot. That’s mildly disappointing, but I suppose I’d rather get rid of the actual pain. The numbness is a nuisance, for sure, but I can probably also live with it more easily.
As if the “normal” pains and the injection pain aren’t enough, I am also dealing with post-chiro pains today! Well, the more appropriate name for it is DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, but my chiropractor instigated this situation.
I had a chiro appointment yesterday morning and was pleasantly surprised when he said he was going to put me through some exercises. Now this wasn’t anything too far out of the norm for my chiropractor, but this was the first time he has had me do these specific exercises since herniating my disc. The idea was to see what could be added to my training program and what was still not safe. He tested me on Bulgarian split squats, single leg deadlifts, step ups, rack pulls, and banded pull-throughs. The only thing that was scratched off the list were the pull-throughs, because they made the tingling in my feet worse. Everything else was given a green light, and I am super excited about seeing these added to my training program soon. Of course, I need to be careful and mindful of positioning and breathing and other important considerations for someone coming off of a back injury, but this feels like progress. My chiro even let me work up to 95 pounds on the rack pulls! He might have made a comment about that being a decently heavy weight, which is likely true for someone who hasn’t picked up a bar for anything remotely resembling a deadlift in more than nine months, but it really is a weight where I would begin my deadlift warm-ups. Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile what I used to be capable of with where I am at now, and this is why I have DOMS today!
It isn’t that my chiropractor pushed me too hard or with heavy weights; it’s simply that those leg muscles have not be used in such a way for a very long time. At one point when I complained about the burning and gelatinous nature of my leg muscles, my chiropractor reminded me that this was what I wanted. So true! I do. Not the DOMS really, but I do want to get back to lifting heavy things. This isn’t going to happen overnight. My coach pointed out that he would incorporate these new exercises into my programming slowly. And I appreciate that, too. Despite the DOMS, it would be easy in my excitement to jump in headfirst and worry about the depth of the water after the fact, especially if today’s injection brings about the positive pain relief we’re hoping for.
Today would normally have seen me at the gym, but part of the injection protocol was to avoid rigorous activity for 24 hours. So, I am heading to the gym first thing tomorrow morning, where the goal is to hit yet another post-herniated disc, legs up, flat back, close grip bench press PR. Thankfully, tomorrow’s training is upper body focused, which means I don’t have to worry too much about the DOMS impacting my workout.
And unfortunately, there is no such thing as the Captain Rogers special serum, so I won’t wake up looking like Captain America. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing, even if the enhanced speed, strength, and healing factors would be appreciated!