Weighted Options

The nerve pain running down my right leg yesterday was the worst it has been for a long time, and it stayed at that level for most of the day and night. Needing to be awake by 4:15 this morning for work meant I was in bed even earlier than normal last night, but I still didn’t sleep well. Or enough. My original plan was to go to the gym after work, but my zombie-like state upon waking had me considering the potential of shuffling things around. The flare up of the pain in the leg mid-morning kept me waffling on whether or not to train today or postpone it until tomorrow morning. Both choices weren’t overly appealing, but knowing that I’m on a bit of a deload made it easier to stick with training this afternoon.

Training after work usually hasn’t really been enjoyable since the injury. Even though my body is holding up better through long hours of work better than it was when I returned from my leave of absence, “holding up” is still the best way to put it. After work, my back is achier and the nerve pains/tingling in the legs increases, and I haven’t even begun to talk about the permanent state of fatigue I am in on this medication. Training tomorrow morning might have been appealing; however, I was also greatly looking forward to having a slow and leisurely start to my Thursday.

There are not many days in the week where I have the luxury of starting slow. If I’m not working in the morning, then I’m going to the gym. Or an appointment. Or church. I got my workout in this afternoon, so that I can sleep in. Okay, so I will probably still set an alarm, but I can hit the snooze button. I can stay curled up beneath the quilts, petting the cat and listening to her purr until I feel inspired to drag myself out of bed. I can make myself a cup of coffee and a hot breakfast. I can have a soak in the tub. I can prep my food for later in the day, read a book, tidy something, do some stretching. All these things and more can be done before I go to work for my closing shift, and that was a luxury I could not sacrifice for today.

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Moving Pieces

Earlier this week when I opened up my new training program, I was surprised to see that my coach had given me a deload program. I was a little confused, because it felt like I had a deload not too long ago, and I wasn’t certain if this was a planned deload or one given out of pity for my constant state of physical discomfort. A deload is a lightening of the load or the number of sets or reps to give the body a bit of a break, to recover and rest. Deloads should be a regular part of training, and they have been part of my training from the beginning. 

The body is usually feeling beat up and exhausted by the time a deload rolls around, but I don’t really feel anymore beat or tired than normal. Of course, my definition of normal this year is entirely different than it was before my injury. Now I live in a constant state of fatigue, aches and pains. Okay, so I do appreciate the deload this week, even if I feel slightly disappointed. 

What excites me the most about this week’s deload though is how nicely it allows me to juggle the pieces of life that need to be fit into the week. It’s like playing Tetris, moving boxes around in an attempt to make everything fit nice and tidy without having it all crash down around me. The big pieces are my work shifts. Although my schedule is fairly consistent, there is just enough variation each week to require frequent adaptations to the rest of life’s plans. Fitting training and life into my work schedule is a bit stressful and burdensome at times, but I manage the best I can and look forward to my days off when I have more breathing room and time to move pieces around. But my days off this week look a bit different than usual.

On Friday, I will need to get my training done first thing in the morning, unless I were to go to the gym tomorrow instead; however, that would be three days in a row and I’m not keen on that, even with a deload. After the Friday morning training session, I have a chiropractic appointment. Then I have a couple of hours to come home and clean up before an appointment for a nerve block at the pain clinic. I really do not know what that appointment or treatment will entail or how it will affect the rest of my day (or weekend). So nothing is planned for the rest of Friday, except to hang out at home, do some light housework, and probably have a nap. A few days ago, some girlfriends and I decided to do a little wine tour trip on Saturday. Good-bye weekend! 

All of my energy and organizing this week revolves around Friday, particularly the nerve block. It feels like my last hope, even if there may yet be other options to pursue. I knew more about my previous pain clinic treatment before it happened than I do about this one, so the uncertainty stresses me a bit. I’m sure it will be fine…I just like to know things. What’s going to happen? What am I likely to experience immediately after? 

I am not super stressed though, but I am now thankful for the deload. My training sessions are a bit easier and faster than usual, so it doesn’t feel too onerous to squish them together. 

Bubble Wrapped

Today was a good day, but I feel battered and I am most definitely bruised. Within only a few minutes of starting work this morning, I had already bashed the sides of my legs at least twice, and so began a full shift of bumping and banging into things with various body parts. Is it any wonder that I am always finding bruises in random places without knowledge of where they came from? Maybe clothing designers should come out with a line of everyday clothing made out of bubble wrap? 

Weekends

Weekends are my favourite days of the week, and I don’t say that because I don’t enjoy my job. I love my job, but these days are just tough on my body. When I returned to work in July after months of medical leave, it took a while for my body to get used to working again. It’s funny how the body can adapt yet still struggle. In some ways, my body’s tolerance of being on my feet and working has improved in the months that I’ve been back to work; however, the past few weeks have been tough. Still better than in July but still not like I was pre-injury. I come home from work with muscles tight and sore, including muscles that had no involvement in the original injury, and, by the end of my work week, my body is ready to quit. 

But weekends are something sweet. Even though I may still have appointments or things to do, time flows more slowly and I have breathing room. My lungs can fully expand, and the release of air is slow and steady. A soak in the tub lasts a little bit longer. Getting out of bed tends to happen naturally. This morning I spent ten minutes in the dark just petting the cat curled up beside me.

When the body begins to ache, I can change my position or task. I can recline in my chair, stretch on the floor, or walk around. I can eat good food and savour my coffee. Enjoy a glass of wine or cider. Hang out with my husband or some friends. Catch up on laundry and housework and day-dreaming. Wear comfy clothing. Go barefoot around the house. Be productive and still have time to relax and be lazy. 

The weekend is when my batteries recharge, physically, mentally and emotionally. As the weekend draws to a close, I am thankful for days off. It is difficult to keep a positive attitude when your body is always hurting. It isn’t easy to smile and be upbeat in customer service when your body hurts. Lately I have been dreading the start of each week, because I know how much hurt I will be in by the end of it and I don’t like the way the pain and dread sucks out the joy I take in doing my job. The coming week is no different. I am not excited to go to work tomorrow. But the end of this week looks a bit different. On Friday I have another appointment at the pain clinic, and I am supposed to be getting a nerve block of some sort. I’m not really looking forward to another needle in my back. I’m also afraid to get my hopes up that this might actually help, because I have been disappointed so many times before. But maybe it will. 

Cat Snuggles

Today was one of my rare open shifts, and predictably, I was stirring and mostly awake well before my alarm. As I laid in bed, eyes tightly closed in a futile effort to squeeze more sleep into my body and despite the plugs in my ears, I heard the gentle purring of the cat tucked against my belly. The purr volume increased when I reached out a hand to touch the warm, furry body. I think I actually sighed in that moment. 

I love working open shifts. Since they seldom come my way anymore, I am glad for every single one I do get. Morning shifts are something special. The stillness of the cafe before the morning rush. The busyness. The regulars. The different routines and tasks that I don’t get to do when I close. For all these reasons I was glad to get up early for work today, but I dislike scraping frost from my car’s windows in the cold, hours before dawn. When sleep has not been good for a year, waking up (or actually just getting out of bed) is hard to do. 

The cat didn’t want me to leave this morning. She scratched at the bathroom door while I got ready for work, and she meowed incessantly, wanting me to heed her demands and pet her. I didn’t have time to spare on her, nor did I want cat hair all over my clothes, but I sure would have loved to crawl back into bed and have the cat curl up beside me again. 

A ‘Not Sick’ Sick Day

As someone who almost never gets sick, the need to call in sick for work is something rarely required. After herniating my disc, I continued to work for a month until agreeing to take a medical leave which wound up being much longer than I had ever anticipated. I was supposed to work a full day today, but I left just shy of an hour after I started. I am not sick, and it wasn’t easy for me to acknowledge that I would rather go home early than stay. I hate to let others down. I don’t like being thought of as weak or useless or flaky or whatever. I could have not said anything about how I was truly feeling, and I could have pushed through and worked the entire day if necessary. But I am glad that I was honest and thankful I was able to come home. But I am not sick and that irritates me like a pebble in my shoe.

I am not sick, but my legs are aflame with nerve pain, currents of throbbing electricity and relentless pins & needles. Both legs from buttocks to toes. Constant. Non-stop. Still tolerable but more intense than the more recent usual. Walking, kneeling, squatting are all uncomfortable, and I feel like I am moving like a 90 year old woman. The icing on the cake is a head that feels out of sorts with my body, maybe not even attached to my neck, dancing along the border of dizzy while remaining solidly in the realm of not quite right. The increase in pain began yesterday and raged through the night, but I still managed to sleep reasonably well. By well I mean I only woke up about 4 times and fell back asleep fairly quickly. Despite the continued issues with my legs, sleep is one thing that has been seeing improvements lately.

I want to cry but not actually. I feel like there is no real reason to cry, but tears have been piling up against the walls I have erected behind my eyeballs since Saturday’s gym session, threatening to break through, and I don’t understand where all that emotion is coming from. It’s been a very long year, yes, and the injury and recovery have been arduous; however, in looking at the big picture, I am still incredibly blessed and in a better place physically than so many. My health issues are minuscule compared to what others are dealing with every day, and I know that extremely well. Sometimes I feel like others make my injury into something bigger than it actually was, but then there are times when I feel like a lot of people actually don’t understand what I am going through and feeling in my body every minute of every day for the past year. Two opposite extremes, and yet, most of the time I simply feel lost somewhere in the middle. I don’t look hurt. I go to work and do my job effectively and efficiently without looking like someone in pain. Or at least I try not look like I’m in pain all of the time. I suck it up and do my job.

But today I really, really hurt and I don’t want to suck it up. Today I am sick and tired of feeling this way. I know it has gotten a lot better over the course of the year, but this still is not where I want to be physically. I have tried so many things in a vain attempt to mute the pain and nothing has helped. When I decided to stop taking the most recent medication, I also made the decision to try any other medications. There may yet be treatments I haven’t tried yet, but I’m weary of trying and, quite frankly, I’m done with trying. I have an appointment for a nerve block at the end of the month, and if that doesn’t help then I don’t know what else to do. I am still waiting for an EMG to see if there is an actual problem with a nerve, and I think the pain clinic might have more options beyond the nerve block, but do I want more.

 

Ugh

While today was generally a better day at work, my body is acutely aware of the fact that I have worked nine of the past ten days and still have two more days to get through until my weekend. After work today, I went to the gym for day one of this week’s program, and it sucked. My back ached. The nerve pain in my left leg was quite strong. And I simply felt battered and bruised. With the way my work schedule tends to look, my training routine has had to be more flexible and often outside of the box of what I would like to fit it inside of.

Before I herniated a disc last year, training after a full day of work wasn’t a problem at all. I had more than enough energy and motivation. Since I’ve been back to work again after the injury, most of my training has been before work or on days off. Those rare days when I have had to train after work have seen mixed results. Last week I felt strong and mostly capable. Today I felt as fragile as a china doll in the hands of a toddler. This is when I am thankful to be closing the next two nights. Tomorrow means a leisurely wake up, coffee, and a proper soak in the tub…all before I even need to think about going in to work.