Friday, April 25, 2008

View From the Floor

This has been my view of the world for the better part of the last four days:

And no, I did not forget to turn the second picture; that is the way it looked to me, laying either flat on my back with my calves in a chair or in the fetal position on my left side. Fun, no? And yes, I refused to have a photo of myself taken in such an undignified position. What happened, you ask? Here's the story.

When I dropped Luke off at daycare after speech therapy on Tuesday, I was trying to lock the half-door behind him. Well, the hinges are cheap, so after a while, the door starts to sag and the slide lock no longer lines up perfectly. So I hooked my right foot under the door and pushed upwards slightly in order to align the lock with the hole in the door frame. As I did so, I lost my balance, falling to my right. I quickly unhooked my foot from under the door and stepped out to my right, turning my upper body in that direction at the same time in order to try and shift my center of gravity so I would not hit the floor, or if I did, I could at least get my hands down to protect myself. I didn't actually fall, but the instant my right foot touched the floor, white-hot pain shot out of my hip, radiating down the outside of my leg towards my knee and up my backside towards the small of my back. And just for the record: OWIE!!! Wow, did it hurt. I figured I had pinched that nerve, but I thought I could just stand up and wiggle a bit, and everything would settle down, like when you hit your funny bone.

Yeah, not happening. Moving much at all hurt, and getting into the car was horrendous with all the moving and shifting of my right leg. (Remember, my non-North American friends, when we get in the car, we lead with our right leg.) I hoped I just needed to go home and stretch out some, but the longer I drove, the more I realized that probably was not going to work. Every time I moved my right foot to apply the gas or brake pedal, that same pain shot out of my hip, up and down my right side. I called my mom (the registered nurse) to see if this type of thing was something that would wear off on its own in a day or so, or if I needed to see the doctor right away, and I was advised to go on and call. It was about 11:30 on Tuesday, and we both figured the earliest appointment I would probably get was Thursday or Friday. If it got substantially better or went away by then, I could just cancel, and if not, then I would already have an appointment instead of calling on Thursday and potentially having to wait until next week to be seen. Sound reasoning. So I called the doctor, and as soon as I said, "I need to make an appointment, I think I hurt my back," the receptionist said "can you come at 1:15 today?" Um, uh, sure. I felt kind-of silly, seeing the doctor barely 2 hours after the incident, but with an injury, it is probably better to get treatment, or at least a record of what happened, as early as you can.

I called my husband, who insisted on coming to drive me, since driving really was very painful. I could have managed, but it would not have been fun. He also picked up lunch, saint that he is. We inhaled our food and headed out. By the time I got there the pain was substantially worse, a sharp aching pain at best that was frequently zapping me with those white hot shots up and down for no apparent reason. I was not a happy camper.

My doctor was rather surprised to see me, again! Much as I love her, this is the third consecutive month I have been to the office, and I'd really rather see a bit less of her, thankyouverymuch. At least this time I was injured and not sick. (That's better, right? Sheesh!) I explained to her what happened, and she and I clearly had the same idea about it, but she examined me anyway just to make sure. She even took her finger and, in one try, poked the *exact* spot that was "shocking" me. I was impressed! Then she told me she used to work for an orthopedist, so this was not the first injury of this type she had seen, LOL. She pressed around on my knee and some point closer to my spine. Neither of those spots hurt in and of themselves, but they were the points that the shocks seemed to be travelling to, if that makes any sense.

As I suspected, I had an irritated sciatic nerve. She asked if I had done this before, and I said no, but that I did have sciatica when I was pregnant. She asked if it was only on the right, and I said no, but that it was quite a bit worse on my right side than on my left at the time. This injury, however, is technically *not* sciatica, since that is when this type of pain is caused by compression/bulging of the disc in your spine. She did say that was a possibility, but a very slim one in my case, since neither the spot near my spine or the spot near my knee hurt. The most likely possibility was that I had pinched or kinked the nerve where it comes over the outside of the hip bone, which is why the pain was radiating from that particular spot. I just had my leg and my torso in exactly the right position at exactly the wrong time. The third possibility was that I had pulled a muscle that was now inflamed and pressing on the nerve itself, but she really thinks that I hurt the nerve directly, since she poked and prodded the joint and muscles with almost no pain on my part. It is hard, so close to when the injury occurred to figure out exactly which of those three scenarios was causing the problem. The good news, though, is that the initial treatment for all three is the same!

The bad news is that the treatment was to lay in the floor either flat on my back in what she called the "dual 90 degree" position (back flat on the floor, thighs straight up, calves in a chair parallel to the floor) or in the fetal position with my knees pulled as tightly to my chest as possible for three straight days! She said that her supervising orthopedist (she's actually a PA) used to say that you could only get up to use the bathroom or if the house was on fire. She understood that, with a three year old, that may not be practical, but she did want me to stick as close to that as possible. It did, however, make work virtually impossible. I can't really type in either of those positions, and using a computer at all would be very complicated. On top of this, she said the pain was going to get substantially worse in the first 24 hours, so she was prescribing me "a strong pain killer," which would mean that I cannot drive, and would probably make me so sleepy that I couldn't work anyway. Joy. So I had an official doctor's note to get me out of work for 3 days. I knew my boss would not be happy, and she wasn't (she hasn't had a good week so far), but there wasn't much to be done about it.

So, I left with a prescription for 500mg of Naproxen (super-strength Aleve) for the inflammation, plus a prescription for Darvocet with Acetaminophen for the pain. I was hoping not to have to take the Darvocet so that I could still drive if a true need arose. That's when she told me that the three worst possible activities I could engage in with this type of injury, especially with the injury point being my hip and (probably) not my back were picking up toys out of the floor, vacuuming, and driving. Lovely. But I still hoped I wouldn't have to take it. Surely, that strong of a dose of Naproxen taken twice a day would be enough, right?

Ha ha ha. When she said "it will get worse over the next 24 hours," she was not kidding. We dropped off the prescriptions at Target, but DH went on and took me home at my request. I figured he and Luke could pick them up after daycare, and I wanted to go on and start my "in the floor" therapy. To hold me over, I took 4 Advil, which is the equivalent of prescription Motrin, figuring that would knock down the pain and inflammation enough to get me by. She said the pain would get worse, but the pain level stayed the same, which I guess means it was working because it didn't get worse? Who knows, but as far as I could tell, the Advil didn't put even a *dent* in the pain! I was so ready to take a Darvocet by the time they got home with it. She also warned me to not let the pain get ahead of me and to take it pretty much religiously for Wednesday, which I did. Consequently, I don't really remember much of Wednesday. Thursday, I didn't take any, but by Thursday night, I really needed it to sleep because I was hurting a fair bit. The electric shock type pain was gone, but it still hurt. I stayed off it most of the day today, but had to take one around 6 PM, since I had been sitting and walking for the first time today. I really hope to not need it anymore by Sunday. We'll see. My doctor did say that I would probably only be 70% better by Monday, but that should be enough for me to function. The rest of the pain will probably take a few weeks to go away. I am also to take the Naproxen twice a day for 7 days, whether I think I need it or not, to keep the inflammation down, then as needed after that.

Of course, DH and I have a different theory of these treatments. The Darvocet doesn't really help with the pain, it just makes you sleep through it! I'm kidding (sort of), it really does relieve a large portion of the pain, and I can stay awake pretty well with only one, but once I take that second one 4-6 hours later, I cannot keep my eyes open.

And as far as being on my back or in the fetal position, those don't really help with the pain in my right hip either. They just make my tail bone and left hip hurt so badly that I forget that my right hip hurts! Sheesh! I'm not sure my tail bone will ever recover; it aches constantly, no matter what meds I have or have not taken, and my left hip (taking the brunt of the pressure from the fetal position) isn't doing much better. Again, I am only sort-of kidding. It does make my hip feel somewhat better with all of the pressure off of it in those positions, but I'm not sure it is enough better to justify the extra pain being caused to my extreme lower back and my other hip. I'm not sure my tail bone will ever forgive me.

But, today was the end of my exile to the floor, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much I look forward to sleeping in my own bed!

Currently feeling: crippled


  1. Oh, Hon, I am so very sorry for your pain. As a veteran of a herniated disc and the associated sciatica, I feel your pain (or I've at least felt it).

    I spent three weeks on the floor (I refused surgery and took the long road to un-injury), so I know how boring it gets. I'm glad you'll get to feel the soft embrace of your own bed.

    Darvocet doesn't do much for me, so I make it a habit of taking 2 darvocet with 2 vodka & sodas. That helps. Of course, I think it's the sleeping.

  2. Ouch. That sounds painful. I've had a flareup of my back pain problem lately which the docs think is sciatica type pain so I know how painful it is. Painkillers are your friend in this sort of pain especially the strong codeine based ones.

  3. Erin!! I'm so sorry!

    If it makes you feel any better about the pain meds, when Michael had his root canal, he said that the first few days, it didn't seem like the meds were doing anything at all. Then, he started to realize that he was slightly wacked out. Finally, he was only feeling wacked, LOL! So, the meds actually were helping to reduice the's just that they weren't totally keeping up with it!


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