My back seized up on Friday night. It was pretty strange really…as well as being very uncomfortable. It was classic lower back pain – muscles tightening to protect my spine. I was fine on Friday morning. And Friday afternoon. In fact I had been fine all week…I couldn’t even identify the moment that caused the problem.
I had been in the US mid-west since Monday. I flew through Chicago. I always fly through Chicago. I’ve never had a simple journey through Chicago…but still I fly via O’Hare. One day I will have to try a different route. Just like one day I will actually go into Chicago rather than just passing through the airport. I am sure the city is amazing. It always looks amazing from the air.
Nothing untoward ‘back-wise’ all week. OK – lots of sitting (planes, cars, airports, offices, restaurants); lots of walking (airports, offices); and lots of exercise (24-7 fitness centre, jetlag). No obvious challenge to my lower back – or at least no more than any other week.
But there I was, Friday night, home again. Looking forward to a relaxing weekend, knowing – as I sat on the sofa – that I was already in trouble. I have had the same problem before. Although not for some four years. Four years ago, I knew exactly what happened and when. To the moment. This time…nothing.
It had been a great week. I arrived Monday and left Thursday. I met lots of people; did lots of work; had (and heard) some great discussions; left with more ideas and better options than I arrived with. I met old friends and made new friends. Worked up plans. Solved problems. Saw opportunities. Laughed. Enjoyed. Missed.
But no problem with my back. Nothing. No tweaks. No aches. No challenge. No nothing. And yet there I was. Friday night. Contorted and confused. The weekend was supposed to be fun-filled and family focused. Yet I was feeling immobile and self-centred.
Some good news? I still had a stretching exercise fact-sheet from 4 years ago. Lots of lying on the floor. Lots of amusement for the family. Little relief.
It was strange how I felt. Classic change/response theory. Denial – no…it can’t be true. I don’t believe it. I didn’t do anything unusual so it can’t be true. Anger – must have been that plane. Or that car. Or that seat. Or that person. Guilt – my fault. Too much…too much everything…coffee, sleep, exercise, travel, jetlag, food, haste, work. Melancholy – not fair; no fun; no relief. I felt older. Unhappier.
My wife was superb. The right balance of sympathy and encouragement. Great advice and not too much laughter. I needed both. Benefited from each. I came up with a Friday night plan. Several plans. I would book a massage Saturday. Stretch my back all weekend every hour. Buy some pain relief cream and muscle relaxant tablets. And I will take more care next trip.
It all helped…although it still took me ages to get to sleep Friday night. Not sure if that was my sore back, all those plans or just the jetlag.
Saturday morning and I felt better. A long walk in the spring sunshine with my wife in the afternoon…and my back felt as good as new. Well…as good as it did last weekend at least. No joy booking a massage, although I did manage my stretches a couple of times. I bought some cream (unopened), although I couldn’t remember which tablets worked best four years ago.
Today then, I have my old back…but a new and improved plan! Jettison that old uncomfortable chair from my home office. Get a better one. Today.