For the past 3 days I've been suffering with a trapped nerve in my lower back. Picture the scene:
I'm sitting in my livingroom around 7am, everything is quiet. I have the first cup of tea of the day in hand and am sipping it slowly and sleepily through the haze of the night before.
I move a mere fraction, a movement so subtle that a time-lapse camera would have struggled to capture it. In a millisecond a searing pain grabbed at my lower back and I 'knew' what it meant.
I did the same about 5 years ago, during a sequence of yoga moves which is a much more newsworthy story, but sitting in a chair drinking a cup of tea - really! About 20 years ago I also did the same thing whilst at a self-defence class (yes, I know - the irony!) This all stems from an old back injury I sustained as a teenage gymnast.
Slowly, millimetre by millimetre, I start to wriggle ever so slightly out of my seat. I wince and laugh to myself as I try to find a pain-free position. I perch on the edge of the chair and consider my next move.
I wonder if lying on the floor will help, but the last time this happened I got stuck on the floor and couldn't get up until my friends came to rescue me. I can't get to the front door anyway as I'm in too much pain. Nobody has a spare key to my house, so I'm just going to have to sit/lie this one out. I crawl onto the floor and rest my head on the carpet as I try to gently move my lower back gently from side to side to work out if I can click something back into place, but it's obvious that it isn't that type of injury. I laugh to myself again as the disco of pain in my back goes full throttle.
So over the next couple of days I put up with the pain and carry on as best I can. I didn't have a bag of frozen peas, so made do with half a frozen apple pie which I strap to my back instead (needs must, but it worked surprisingly effectively and no - I didn't eat it afterwards before you ask).
The next day I felt a slight improvement and was advised to now use heat to get the blood flow going, which I do. The pain throbs throughout the day, but I ignore it and keep thinking - just as long as I can get to London tomorrow (as I have an important event I'm speaking at to go to and don't want to let them down.) If they have to float me down the river from Oxford to London - I'm going!
I wake up early and try to move my body a little bit to see if I can feel any improvement, I can't tell, I roll myself to the edge of the bed and let me feet fall to the floor I push myself up and walk a couple of steps, I can still feel a slight ball of pain, but nothing in comparison to yesterday - yes I think, it's worked!
I leave the house and take one step down to the pavement and wince as the pain shoots in my lower back again. Oh no, it's still there, but it's so much better than yesterday, so I walk very carefully thinking about every step and trying not to sway my hips too much. I walk to the bus stop to catch the bus to the train station, occasionally wincing as my back goes into spasm, making my leg 'go' momentarily. Laughing, before composing myself before taking the next step.
The usual rhythm of carefree walking, the breakneck speed I usually walk at - all compromised. I make it to London, but won't bore you with the details, suffice to say it was a very considered journey at a leisurely pace - I let all the other commuters pass me, rather than race with them to the front.
At my event a colleague asked if I wanted a painkiller - I immediately dismiss it 'I don't take anything, not even a headache pill, I say'. As the hours pass and I try to get comfortable I look over at my colleague and recognising how uncomfortable I look she asks me again - this time I say yes. Mere moments pass and suddenly everything changes and I am pain free for the first time since Tuesday at 7am.
Why did I wait 21/2 days before accepting help? Why did I allow myself to suffer unnecessarily? What was all that about?
That's the thing about life, you think you know what's best for yourself. Then all it takes is one wise and gentle friend to be in the right place at the right time showing you another way - a more sensible and gentle way.