I just had surgery to relieve compression on a nerve that’s caused a mix of intense sciatic pain and the inability to lift my left heel (often called foot drop ) steadily for almost one year – and intermittently since opening Yoga in ME in 2013. The problems with my back, however, started to show themselves many years ago.
I don’t remember when it started, but the last episode I remember was in 1999. Normally I don’t remember what year things like that happen unless they are attached to some other memory that has a date I can calculate. And that year was the year my son, Jack, went to afternoon kindergarten.
Jack and I were rolling a ball back-and-forth to each other as he waited for his bus. Just as the bus was pulling up, I leaned down to catch the ball and my back went into excrutiating pain. It was so bad that I could not possibly stand up again.
My only option was to lower myself down to the driveway as slowly as I could. I waved good-bye to Jack as cheerily as I could as he got on the bus and laid there until the pain let up just enough for me to drag myself into the house. Probably I didn’t even call anyone because the only phone was a landline that was attached to the wall too high to reach from the floor.
That episode eventually faded and, as I mentioned, it was the last time it happened for many, many years. I give credit for that to some amazing massage therapists and to starting a regular yoga posture practice.
Regularly practicing yoga helped me find a new awareness of my body and I learned to pay attention to supporting my lower back with improved posture. As I developed morebalance between strength and flexibility, it became easier and easier to do this.
My yoga practice also gave me tools to reduce the stress in my life. At that time, there weren’t so many studies out there “proving” how stress affects your body, but it was obvious to me that reducing it made me feel better all the way around.
Everyone’s spine is put together differently to begin with – and we all have different life experiences that affect it. My back just happens to have very little space between two of my verterbrae. Although I wasn’t able to put an end to back issues forever, I am grateful I could avoid surgery until the technology improved to the point it is now.
The procedure I had is called a Microdiscectomy: A small incision was made in my back, the muscles were pulled out of the way, a tiny hole was drilled in one of my vertebrae, and a piece of cartilage that was pressing on a nerve was pulled out.
The surgeon said it went well. There were no surprises. I spent most of the first day drifting in and out of sleep, but now I am up and about. When I move the wrong way, I have pain in the muscles that were pulled out of the way during the procedure, but it is manageable. (and not even close to as bad as the sciatic pain was!).
There are some restrictions I need to observe for at least another week: no driving, no bending forward, no picking up anything heavier than a gallon of water, no twisting, and no staying in one position (especially sitting) for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time.
At the same time, I also have orders to walk as much as I can. So I’m already moving around walking more each day than I have in one day for over a year.
I look forward to working with a physical therapist soon and gradually getting back to a yoga posture practice. Using the sequence of postures we teach at Yoga in ME as my base-line, I will adapt each posture to suit my needs. As an internationally certified massage therapist, I have the information I need to do this.
Once I have that worked out, all I need to do is follow the usual sequence with my own variations of the postures. This will allow me to do my own home practice, and to be able to get back into group classes at the studio.
See you at the studio or walking in the woods soon!