06 July 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Be "OW, #%^&!"

The ongoing saga of my back continues...

A few weeks ago I actually went to our doctor to seek treatment to relieve and correct the ongoing pain in my lower back. After an exam and X-rays, it appears my L5 vertebrae is not aligned properly and is thus causing a lot of what's been going on over the past year. Chiropractic has alleviated some of the pain over that time, but the issue itself hasn't been properly addressed to this point. Consider the issue addressed now.

I've been going to physical therapy three times a week for the past week with largely positive results. Positive result number 1 was meeting my therapist and discovering that both he and a coworker are native Nebraskans and would like to add us to their list of folks for football game parties this fall. Score! :-) Positive result #2 has been the work he's helped me do. While I'm feeling a bit more regularly uncomfortable since beginning treatment, I can also feel the muscles and joints in my back working more as they're supposed to work, and that's worth the occasional discomfort. My therapist is now including my hips, knees and ankles in our work, finding ways to better stabilize my body for both day-to-day activity and, sound the hallelujahs, better running. Turns out that even though I have a neutral stride and normal to high arches, stability shoes may help me run with greater comfort than my trusted neutrals. To that end I've purchased my first pair of inserts and will soon be buying a good pair of stability shoes, as soon as I find some we can afford.

My mother has also been dealing with some back and leg pain, much different than my own, and she mentioned while our family was camping together this past weekend that her father, my Grandpa Janke, also had back problems, leading to a surgery in the last few years of his life. It's funny how the generations have changed in such a short time. I experience discomfort that keeps me from pursuing my favorite exercise (golf and running) and I get myself a specialist right away, while I'm sure my Grandpa would have said that doing such a thing was a waste of both time and money, given that I could still work and be a father to my kids without too much trouble.

One of the unfortunate side effects to America's continual success in the 20th and 21st century was the development, I believe, of a false belief in the right to a life without suffering. My generation, as a whole, hasn't known what it means to suffer for the life we have been given, certainly not to the extent of my grandparents and great-grandparents. There are miracle fixes everywhere for every problem under the sun, especially if you watch cable television between midnight and morning sunrise, all playing off the idea that work is for those who aren't smart enough to game the system. I'm sure, if I look long enough, there's a pill or apparatus pitched by a third-tier celebrity that guarantees an end to my back problems in less than 30 days (or my money back!).

Here's the thing: the only way I'm going to beat this thing is to work hard and work smart. I need to lose weight so I'm not carrying so much load on my joints (221 on the scale this morning). I need to sleep more to give my body time to recharge itself after a good workout every day. I need to diligently do the exercises my PT gives me. If I do all this, there is a good chance I'll soon be swinging my clubs pain-free, and hopefully training for my third marathon by next spring. But this only works if I accept my present limitations AND make the decision to work to change those limitations. Shortcuts won't do it, but neither will pretending it doesn't exist or just giving up the fight.

This isn't a faith thing, either: I'm God's child whether I qualify for Boston or never run another stride. But it is a peace of mind thing: to be healthy, to live a life that sees the abundant goodness of God, I'm going to have to suffer a bit. In this case, some pain does equal some gain, and I'm willing to give the one in hopes of receiving the other.

Grace & peace,


  1. Sorry that you are in pain. It sounds like you are doing all the right things for it though!

  2. I tried what you are talking about--chiro and p.t., but started to get tingling down the backs of both legs and my feet (don't wait too late) and had the surgery.

    My hubs is a nurse anesthetist and the only advice he had was--for spines go to a neurologist instead of an orthopod. That said, there is much newer technology for this type of thing. If for some reason it continues and is structural. My back is much better though I still have occasional bouts.