Last night I closed my eyes around 9:45. I blinked and now my phone reads 4:50 a.m. How on earth did that happen? Not to mention, that I got approximately 7 hours straight of decent sleep, so why do I still feel so exhausted? I turn 42 next month and for the last few years, I have not slept well on a regular basis. I have chalked it up to our anxiety-ridden roller coaster of a year and my back problems due to poor posture, etc. But the last year, I decided to really dive into what on earth the problem is, and here is what I’ve learned:
I went to the doctor. And he didn’t know. So he ran blood work, and checked me for scoliosis (I have a family history) and that wasn’t an issue.
I went to a physical therapist. For months on end. During the summer. At 8 a.m. Ugh…and though the movements were helpful, it was not enjoyable to workout with a mask on in the least. And it wasn’t improving my back pain or my quality of sleep.
We bought a new mattress. It was too soft. We bought ANOTHER new mattress, but it was too firm. (and know, I don’t live with bears, otherwise I might finally be asleep on one that was just right!)
We kept said firm mattress (they told us you can always break it in, but you can’t get more firm if you go too soft) and added this mattress topper of 2 inches, which definitely helped overall (as in, it didn’t feel like I was sleeping on a board) but here I am, almost a year into my research, and I am still very much in regular pain or at least discomfort and still not sleeping well on a regular basis.
I went through memory foam pillows for head, neck, and back, as well as visited a chiropractor like my life depended on it. And seriously, when the pain is that bad, every single day, it sure feels that way! Again, they provided SOME relief, but not the sleep I so desperately missed.
I am the queen of waking up in the middle of the night and making lists in my head, so to help curtail the anxious worries that I will forget something or never have enough time (I’m looking at you, Jessie Spano), my doctor prescribed me an extremely low dose of medicine. In addition, another visit to the doctor and another referral to a specialist. This time he sent me to what he called a Physical Medicine doctor. The doctor fit me in fairly quickly and upon the usual checkup and movements I have become used to performing, he told me he thought he knew the problem as well as a potential solution. He said that it seemed my lower back muscles had frozen up (and apparently they can do this for a number of reasons, lovely right?). He determined my treatment would consist first of a muscle relaxer at night (as needed; It didn’t really help, I will say) and cortisone shots into the impacted muscles to relieve the pain. Problem is, the day I went for what I was hoping would be the most amazing scary pain of my life (Seriously, does ANYONE actually enjoy getting a shot? Let alone, multiple shots in your back?) they tested my blood pressure and it was through the roof! The doctor said because of this, he could not give me the cortisone, only a general numbing, which helped for a few short days. My blood pressure has seemed to sky rocket out of nowhere over the last 2 months and no one is sure what has caused it. I am on meds for that now (gosh, I feel like such an old lady!) and working to lower it so I am able to get the shots and ease into 42 with all the grace of a rickety old fence.
Anyway, the point of telling you all my story is that it really made me realize for the first time that doctors cannot solve all our problems, and just because they offer you a solution, doesn’t mean it is going to work, thoroughly or at all, for you as an individual. There were days that I felt like people probably thought I was making up the issue for attention and honestly, I wish that was the case. The pain makes it impossible to ever feel fully comfortable, and causes me to fall asleep on the couch while the kids are still wired at night at least once a week. Keep asking and be persistent in what you try, get a second opinion when you need it and talk to others online and in person. My hope is that once I am able to get the cortisone shot, I will be able to continue working on abdominal strength and avoid anything like this in the future, but we shall see! Until then, here are my temporary fixes that help a little: the heating pad, occasional ibuprofen, pilates stretching (I have used this DVD for YEARS and the stretching feels amazing), and fabulous relaxation time with our new massage gun, the MEBAK. Together these things get me through the weeks and seem to at least provide temporary relief. I would love to hear what others have tried that has provided relief or recovery from back pain, it’s kind of the worst!