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A Balancing Act

When it rains, it pours. I've lived with flare-ups for about 6 years, then overdid it at the gym, and now entered the realm of constant pain. At least for my lumbar, the MRI says the L5-S1 protruding disc is now "subtly" touching the nerve roots. I love working out and most of the feelings that go with it, but I refuse to be a weightlifter on painkillers. I canceled my gym membership.

This is not to say that I have given up on working out entirely. My wife surprised me with an inversion table for Father's Day. I get in about 30 minutes of walking a day. I try to do about 20 pushups a day, focusing on keeping my abs tight. Regardless, I'm a lot lazier now. I don't lift my son, or mow, or vacuum, and I prefer to be horizontal. When we go shopping, I don't lift the bags, and I'm mostly just "along for the ride."

It's hard to be honest, and the heaps of guilt we feel just add more to the load of pain and depression we face. This morning I had a "strong discussion" (not really a fight). My wife thought I was being too sedentary, and this would just cause me more problems. She believed that my lack of motivation was from a bout of depression that would mellow out and not from the growing fear of living with a fragile spine that I feel.

So, I've unloaded my baggage (once again) on these forums. I hope I've painted an accurate portrait of myself. Do you find yourself struggling to be active, and how do you define a good day of activity for yourself? How do you balance your fear with your lifestyle, and if you're in a relationship, what steps do you take to reassure your loved one that you're working toward a better life?

There. That shouldn't be too much to cover in one post. (Smiley Face)


  • My pains been constant for nearly 10 years now. I'm married with 2 young children. It's so bloody hard isn't it???? Ugh!! My husbands always worked long hours & I don't have a support system which in many ways has actually been a good thing (although it REALLY doesn't feel like it at the time!) keeping me active.
    I remember one evening, after a really hard week & a REALLY hard day with the kids. I was laying on the bed with my legs propped on strategically placed pillows, my hot water bottle on my back, my prescription cream at my side...desperately trying not to burst into tears, when my husband huffed & puffed into the room about to blow....then he paused & said, "Sorry, sometimes I have to remind myself that I have a crippled wife & not a lazy wife!!". (it's ok he's still alive!)

    For me it's a very difficult balancing act. I know from surgery, pregnancy bed rest etc that being sedentary is very bad for me. It feels good to start but quickly it becomes obvious that it amplifies my pain. If I push too hard I make my pain flare so much that moving becomes agony.

    Sorry, I can't remember, do you have a good physical therapist? Mine was great at taking me through the best ways to do things without hurting myself (lifting, cleaning, vacuuming, exercising). He gave me a list of restrictions (running, jumping etc) that I should never do.

    Has your wife ever come to any of your medical appointments? Do you discuss your action plans & (harder for some) your fears? Relationships are so hard when one of you is suffering from chronic pain. To be honest, after 25years my relationship is hanging by a thread. The divorce rate when one lives with pain is far higher than for the 'normal' population. If I could turn back time I'd be considering therapy. I saw a pain management therapist in the past & she was great at giving me simple coping mechanisms for getting through the harder things (driving, dealing with a baby & toddler at the time etc). I should of stuck with it longer & taken my husband with me. I don't know! There's a fine line between keeping your spouse informed & terrifying them about their future! It really depends on your situation.

    Remember that BOTH of your lives have been changed by this. There are a lot of things you can't do anymore & your partner has to take up the slack. Think of nice things you can do for her, play with your son in all the ways you can to give her a break sometimes (alone time was a fantasy of mine when my kids were really little. I went years without even bathing/showering alone!). Just ideas...I obviously don't know the answers!!!

    It's so hard isn't it? To begin with I thought it was 'just' pain but that's just the tip of the iceberg! It's so hard to understand the fear, frustration, anxiety, anger, etc unless you've lived it.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • It rings true when you say this journey is not only about pain. My wife has gone to several of my appointments with me, and in many ways, she is my advocate. That said, I wonder how we will hold it all together as the path becomes a thorny mess.

    I've believed in and have told her that I want us to communicate often and openly. Though, my thoughts and what I can so readily express is just a broken record: Pain, pain, pain. Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety. Maybe there are endless ways to explore and express the pain emotion. I could try to put it down in a poem or convince myself that it allows me to relate in deeper ways. Truthfully, that seems akin to dressing a turd in a tux.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    Right now, you may not feel you have the physical or emotional strength to do various things

    That will turn around. It does almost naturally for everyone, but if you focus on it, it will happen a lot quicker for you.

    From reading your posts, you seem to be someone who wants to enjoy life, enjoy your family....

    No one can make that happen but you.... Go for it.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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