Let’s Talk About What We Learned Today (or, “Oh, My Aching Back”)

Bad news, friends.  I did something terrible to my back.  I don’t know if it’s the old “lift and twist” that got me this time (pro tip: don’t lift and twist at the same time, ever), but whatever I did, it hurts a lot.

So, I can’t do a lot of things I need and want to do.  Pick up my thirty-pound bundle of joy.  Put on my socks.  Undecorate my Christmas tree.  Get the house ready for Friday’s highly anticipated play date.  (Highly anticipated by me, I should add.  When I set it up after library story time yesterday, I felt like I had just gotten a date to the prom.  “She said yes!  She said yes!”  Have I mentioned that making more mom friends is one of my goals?)

This back pain is frustrating.  But it is also, as my seminary internship supervisor would say, a “learning opportunity.”  (Pro Tip: Beware of “learning opportunities”, as they are so often actually “things the person promoting them would prefer not to do”.)  Here are some things I’ve had the opportunity to learn in the last day or two:

1. When your back hurts, crawling around on the floor picking up toys is kind of a dumb idea.  So is lying on your stomach in your daughter’s pop up tent.

2. Saying, “I feel a tiny bit better!  I can do a few little things!” is not a step forward on the road to healing.  It is a step forward on the road to wincing and possibly saying a few of the words your parishioners apologize for saying in front of you.  (Hey there, kids.  The words in question are of course “dagnabit” and “sassafras”.  What were you thinking?)

3. Frozen Brussels sprouts may seem like a great choice for icing your back, since you are probably never going to eat them.  (Pro Tip: When it comes to Brussels sprouts, go fresh or go without.)  Guess what?  Sooner or later, frozen Brussels sprouts make your back smell like . . . Brussels sprouts.  And no one wants that.

4. Backs are sensitive.  And important for all kinds of activities.  Treat them with care and respect.  (I learn this one every time.)

5. Husbands are handy, whether they’re applying IcyHot strips, coaxing toddlers into snowsuits and out the back door, or saying things like, “My plan for today is to do dishes and clean the house, because I think you should lie down.”  I don’t mind telling you that I am seriously considering marrying this guy.

Your turn!  What learning opportunities have you had lately?  And / or, what can I do for my aching back?


Filed under Marvelous Miscellany

14 responses to “Let’s Talk About What We Learned Today (or, “Oh, My Aching Back”)

  1. For your back- Hot baths or showers sometimes help with the discomfort and inflammation! Plus, it is a good excuse to relax a little.
    Hope it gets feeling better soon!


  2. My husband has back issues, and I have to say, you really, really nailed the feeling of what it’s like to navigate the world with a back injury. But, you do it with such panache!

    I found myself nodding and laughing with glee at all of your list items, especially the frozen Brussels sprouts on an injury problem. (Fresh is best, but in a food- or injury- emergency, I will take whatever is in the freezer.)

    Your husband sounds like a sweetheart. I hope you marry him! (LOL!) I really, really am sending you good thoughts that your injury is okay enough for your awesome, highly-anticipated play date.

    And! You asked your readers for advice on your back injury! I have advice! That you can use if it is helpful! I will post this advice as a separate comment!


  3. Okay as a former dancer (avec many injuries!) and the spouse of someone with a trick back, here’s what I know:

    1) Find a form of monitored exercise from a very, if not overly-certified, instructor that incorporates a lot of stretching– yoga, qi gong or t’ai chi, and Aikido are great for this. Learn how to do these stretches, and add them to your home routine. (With a toddler around, this will be extra fun.)

    2) If your back is going out regularly, you might consider finding a licensed acupuncturist through this site– http://www.nccaom.org/ , which is the national licensing/accreditation center for acupuncturists/TCM practitioners. I have an acupuncturist I see regularly, and acupuncture/TCM is amazing. A note though: acupuncturists are comprehensive and strict. They will give you exercises, medication, and nutritional guidelines, even for something as seemingly simple as a repetitive strain injury. But, I cannot even stress how much I love my acupuncturist/TCM doctor.

    As I said before, feel free to take or not take the above advice– I’m not bothered either way, and I’m sure you’re going to get some wonderful suggestions today from your friends and fellow bloggers! The biggest thing I can say is that I hope you feel better soon. I really, really do.


    • Thank you so much for the tips, Bluebird! I know that long term ways to avoid this agony include losing my, um, baby weight (we will generously call it that) and getting on board with exercise. How kind of you to suggest that I actually have a home routine to which I might add some good back stretches! Should I be doing these stretches while my back hurts, or wait till it’s better?

      I really do not want to cancel this play date (our first time hosting!), so I’m hoping my resting and Mike’s cleaning will make it possible to keep calm and carry on. To say nothing of your good thoughts!


      • Ah, baby weight! Please cut yourself some serious slack. You have a toddler, a spouse two congregations, a blog, and a life that all require tending.

        Please don’t stretch while your back hurts! Especially if it has been awhile since you’ve done structured stretching. I don’t want you to aggravate your injury. The Husband tried this one of the last time his back went out while he was studying Aikido (as a beginner) and made everything worse.

        (And of course I believe you have a home routine! You just seem so organized and fit that I assume this to be the case!)

        I am going to display (my not so obvious) bias here about stretching. I had a dance teacher who did not teach us to warm up correctly or properly, and I studied under this teacher for most of my life. (It was weird; this teacher knew better– famous family, awards, blah.)

        My point is– if you’re either out of the habit of stretching or have never really learned proper stretches– and I did not until about two years ago, in ballet– find a good, super-certified instructor of something you love. (After you get a doctor’s clearance. That’s a must.)

        The reason I mentioned Aikido specifically is that The Husband (when he had time to take classes, which was brief) had *no* problems with his back. The other reason I’m thinking now that it might be a good fit is that it is the most non-violent, non-aggressive form of martial arts. Aikido has an interesting history!

        I’m gonna step out of my bossy shoes now, and resume sending you good, healing thoughts. I hope you are well enough for the play date tomorrow, and I’m hoping that you see your GP (a GP), if you haven’t already about this issue. (Ach! Courtenay! Take off the bossy shoes!)

        Well, anyway– good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts. : )


      • Ha! What do the bossy shoes look like, I wonder? Are they steel-toed boots, or pointy stilettos, or just some very no-nonsense black ones that go clickety-clack on the linoleum?

        You are right, of course. A visit to the doctor would not hurt. And it’s never too early to start spending my deductible, right?


  4. I have got to be honest with you here, the best thing you can do is see a doctor and get some (legal) drugs. I do something weird to my back every once in a while and they gave me some muscle relaxers that are a miracle! One before I go to bed and I wake up the next day feeling like a new woman! Also, a coworker taught me to sit in a chair, feel flat on the floor, and lean forward with my head pointed to the ground and my arms relaxed at my sides. This helps stretch out the lower back. Good luck!


    • Wow! I think you are the first person I’ve heard recommend muscle relaxers. Although to be fair, maybe the only person I’ve really talked to about muscle relaxers is my mother, who does not care for them. I will give it another day or two–usually it straightens itself out, and I promise to be more careful. I will try that stretch, though!


      • Woman in the Middle– I defer to your sensible advice here. In the short term and for good reasons, you should see a doctor if you haven’t already to rule out all the obvious stuff– weird injuries, vitamin deficiencies, et. al. My husband did do this, and I applaud his going the distance because well, stereotypes and all that.

        My acupuncturist taught me a rolling stretch from a standing position that is just bliss. Love that. Stretches rock.


  5. Emily

    Chiropractor. I know people have mixed feelings about them, but as someone who has fairly seriously and repeatedly injured their back, I can tell you that they work. Find a good one who will also work on the muscles and teach you stretches for your painful areas. And get a professional massage. It will do wonders for relaxing the back muscles.


    • I have been thinking chiropractor, too, Em. I’ll ask my doctor, and also my chiropractor-visiting Litchfield friends. There are a surprising number of chiropractors in this town! Not as many professional massage givers, but I am coming around on that one, too . . .


  6. Manda

    When I began seminary my neck started seizing up once a year. Usually between January and March. A medical professional who was not my doctor once armchair-diagnosed it as torticullis. Which is defined as “a seizing of the neck that we cannot either properly describe or find a root cause for.” When this stopped happening with any regularity after seminary I decided once and for all that it was stress related. That this seizing of the neck which most literally put me flat on my useless back for days, was my body’s way of telling me to *%$&!@ knock it off already. (read: dagnabit) So finally, in our last year of seminary, I did.

    Not that this has much to do with your back except that it has been my biggest lesson in being zen for pete’s sake. Now whenever my neck hurts to the point that my resting position is something of a menacing, hunched over, sideways glance I excuse myself from ALL obligations (except hot showers) and repeat to myself “You are not that important to the continued survival of humankind and if you ever want to contribute to it again you better get Zen #%!@* (read: dude. My inner voice swears like a sailor.)


    • Fancy name for stress! I think this back pain is my body’s way of saying, “stop picking up your child while also turning around to do something else”. Or maybe, “Exercise for pete’s sake!” Or, “Stop sleeping on your stomach!”

      But I hear you on stress-related pain. I used to get an amazing hoarse voice in college at the end of every term–it was like I’d been smoking two packs a day for twenty years. And I kind of liked it.


  7. Pingback: Cure versus Healing | Never Done It That Way Before

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