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I fell on to this topic and wish I found it a year ago. I want to share what helped me remain mentally grounded for those seeking answers. And how it will help me this time around, now that I am experiencing a new setback, nearly 1 year after my last event forcing me to live to sleep on a mat in my living room floor
At 37, I suffered 2 herniated disc L4 thru S1 in the summer of 2017. After seeing a PT and sports med Dr, I started working on my recovery as I elected to the "conservative healing process"
Since I found it difficult to give up on my active lifestyle, I had several setbacks from August to December. Then in early January, it had been determined that L5-S1 disc had ruptured. The pain was so severe!! EXTREME doesn't help to describe it. I will forever refer to it as "the pain I will judge all other pain by" it was my 11 on the dial.
My mind went back to dark places as they did each time. This time it was worse. I thought I would never be able to stand up again without the assistance of my amazing wife. She helped me stay safe, but for those of you who may not live with a loved one, she was not the only one who kept me grounded. My Dr and PT were absolutely incredible. Additionally, this site amongst others, helped me.
So, what helped me?
1. If you are going to continue reading forum posts, read those with conclusions from the author. They can be few and far between. I feel it is because man by people come here looking for answers initially, and after recovering, may not return for a status update. I was one of them and only recently came back to the site.
2. Read forum posts that pertain to your situation. It is very easy to fall into a rabbit hole, only to find stories beyond imagination. I found myself feeling more sympathy for others than myself. And ultimately felt I was in their same situation and already being emotional, it only made things worse. I don't have a fusion, I haven't had surgery. I will read these posts, but not while I'm already upset with my own situation.
3. NEVER try to push through pain when you have a recovery regimen. We are dealing with nerves, not muscles. I pushed myself too hard and found myself in my current situation. I was masking my pain for a vacation with my wife, hiking many miles each day without conditioning. I'm also still learning that I'm not a spring chicken hawk anymore. I'm almost 40, and playing swift sports with 20 somethings is a no-no for me. Twisting, diving forward, bending a reaching back jumping?! No-piddy nope nope!! Give me a pool stick or pull out that board of monopoly and rob the bank when no one is looking.
4. Find a balance in your medication. I had a bad experience with opiates in the passed years, primarily Vicodin. I was self employed, threw out my back and was prescribed Vicodin. But resting didn't pay my bills. This started a terribly vicious cycle, I would take more because I continued to hurt myself more, and couldn't work if I was hurt. I stopped taking them cold turkey when I realized I had a worse problem, an addiction. And a "handful" is not a prescribed amount!
This caused me to fear prescription drugs. So when my disc blew out, I refused to take my muscle relaxers or pain killers, finally I took half doses when absolutely necessary since one would nearly knock me out. I now know better. I have faith and trust in myself to know that I can respect my medication and not misuse it. And Hot Diggity does it make a world of difference! As long as my intentions are not to mask pain so I can keep on keepin on in a manner that will only makes things worse... i.e. heavy lifting and working 12 to 14 hour days 7 days a week each summer. (Glad those glory days are over)
5. DO NOT give up on therapy! I am back with my same PT, she is incredible. Prescribed mild stretches and wall dips. Back to the routine we started last year. What makes it different for me this time is that I know the process works! I believe it because I went through it. So whether you find relief with PT, or see a Chiropractor, stick with the plan.
6. Invite friends or family over. No one likes to be seen in our most vulnerable states. But, your friends and family may understand, as mine did. They knew I was unable to escape a 20 x 20 room for weeks, their visits were highlights of my days and/or nights. It helped me change my mental pace by pulling me out of the pits of despair I had created. Next thing I know, another day had passed which to me felt another day towards recovery.
7. Finally, believe you will get through it! Whether you practice mind over matter, meditation or have a recovery regimen... continue to make improvements. Whether they are big or small, be proud of them! Because they all add up to a successful recovery!
Talk to you medical professional and go over exercises. While I'm laid out, I'll work on small stretches. Eventually, you may find you were able to do a little more than yesterday, and a little more than this morning. You find these small increments will all add you to a set goal, and then the next goal, and then the next... and so on. I found walking to be the most beneficial when I started my road to recovery. I live 9 house from Lake Erie, and walking around the neighborhood, to the end of our road, and overlooking a beach brought tranquility. My first goal was to walk 9 houses down the road to our overlook and then back. It is worth the view each time
8. ICE!! I invested in clay packs, these can be microwaved or placed in a freezer. They stay cold for long periods of time. Mine included a insulations sleeve and velcro straps that allowed me to wear as somewhat of a back brace. Allowed me to walk a little more each time.
9. You've read it hear before, "you are not alone"! Ask questions, don't just read posts, it may lead to you assuming the worst case scenario (that is what I did, and it only made things worse).
If any of you have questions for me I would be happy to answer them. If any of you have anything you would like to add, I would like to hear it!
Best of luck and pain free wishes to all of us!