Posted by: Kate | February 11, 2008

Bring on the Cheerleaders

I started physical therapy for my back on Thursday. As you may recall, in a stunning feat of grace and loveliness, I slipped and fell under Willem’s truck in early January. I’m not broken, but I’m not getting better, and I have vacations planned for next month… so PT it is.

I’m starting with very simple stretching exercises because, in the words of the physical therapist, “You’re really tense!” Um, yeah, you think? Something about making the wrong movement and ending up with pain shooting up out of the top of my head and leaving scorch-marks on the ceiling, I think.

One of the stretches is more of a clench: I’m to try and pull my belly button back to my spine and then do a Kegel and hold for 10 seconds. Not a problem, right? Except apparently I was doing Kegels all wrong, making more of a push motion than a pull, and had to be retaught. Since she mostly kept her hands to herself, and certainly didn’t get up close and personal enough to require an R rating, I’m not sure how she could tell the difference, because I sure can’t.

The next stretch is to lie flat on my back, legs straight, and pull one knee at a time up toward my chest, holding under the knee and pulling. Not a problem, for real, this time. I can do this. It doesn’t feel like it’s doing much of anything at all, stretchwise or therapywise, but whatever. Like a good student, I’ll do my homework three to five times a day.

The third stretch just about kills me. I’m to remain on my back, left leg bent with knee raised, right ankle resting on the left knee. Then reach with my right hand and pull the right knee across my body. Holy Mother of Pain, Batman. Not in my back – no, that would be too simple – but in my hips. I was diagnosed with bursitis in both hips when I was 14, went to PT for a year or so, and got it under control. It hasn’t been a serious problem since then; once in a while, in certain awkward positions and weather conditions, one hip or the other will seize up and hurt like crazy for a few minutes, but then it fades into a mere annoyance for a while and goes away completely. But this simple little stretch has flared up the bursitis – and it happened before Saturday’s re-fall, so I can’t blame that – to the point that I’m walking like John Wayne even when I haven’t been riding a horse. Which I never do.

Good times.

Today was my second PT session, and we all agreed that I can stop doing that third stretch unless I decide to pick up masochism as a hobby. I started with some sort of electrical stimulation on my lower back, which was not what I expected it to be. When I was 14, I had some sort of shock therapy on my hips, with a little wand that delivered sharp pain to each one and generally was on par with a dental visit, fun-wise. This, instead, consisted of four electrodes on my lower back, for ten minutes, with sort of waves of itching or fuzziness pumping through them every 20 seconds or so. Didn’t hurt, but didn’t make it better, either.

So I’m frustrated and down, right now, because I’m starting to worry about how long this is all going to take. I’m going to Florida and Jamaica next month, and sometime soon I hope to be pregnant (and did I mention that I got nasty sciatica with both pregnancies, too? Won’t that be fun?). I really, really need this back pain to settle and go away. I’m doing what I can, following their rules to the best of my ability, alternating ice and heat and stretching and not restricting my daily activities, so maybe what I need is a cheering squad to keep morale up. Because right now, it’s decidedly down.



  1. Kate, Kate, she’s our girl
    If she can’t do it,
    Then there’s no possible hope for us mere mortals and we’re screwed beyond all belief.

    or…one I learned when I was in marching band my freshman year in college:

    Rick ’em, Rack ’em, Rock ’em, Ruck ’em
    Get that ball and reallyyyy………


  2. Gimme a K…K!
    Gimme an A…A!
    Gimme a T…T!
    Gimme an E…E!

    What’s that spell? KATE! Who’s gonna win Kate!
    Gooooooooooooooo Kate!!

    That’s the best I got 🙂

  3. I was never a cheerleader (are you surprised? Cheer isn’t really my thing), but I found leg stretches to be hugely helpful for my back pain/injuries. My favorite one for when I’m all kinked up is to lie flat on my stomach on a firm surface, then slowly bend my left knee until it is up as far as it will go. Hold that bent knee position and clench for 15 seconds, then release very slowly. Alternate each leg. And when I say slowly, I mean really creep along so that your feel each tiny increment. I don’t know why it works so well for me, but maybe it will help you, too?

    I hope you’r eback to normal very soon!

  4. Aww petal. Takes a while unfortunately. One of ClareBear’s friends is a physio and has the same patients for months if not years (especially the sporty types). Keep it up, often it’s the muscles and ligaments cramping around the bone that causes the pain unless there’s a disc problem so stretching will work. Persistence pays! Ask about ultrasonic massage, it’s warm and helps relax the traumatised tissue. And . . Voltarin Emulgel . . great for sports injuries, might just help with pain relief and you won’t smell like a jock after the game!

  5. I actually was a cheerleader — for one year, then I figured I’d done Popular and could get back to being just me.

    So. . . Stretch, stretch, heal,
    Stretch, stretch, heal
    Getting better,
    Getting better,
    Stretch, stretch, heal!

    Actually it will probably take a long time. I’m finding that yoga classes are loosening pains I’ve had for years — lower back and hip sorts of things, so maybe some day you could try that?

    Did the pregnant sciatic thing, but only when I continued to do the getting-pregnant practice. Ask me how fun that was. . . Hang in there!

  6. Ultrasound felt good, but did nothing to easy my pain. Forget about the Electrical Stim – you may as well stick a cattle prod against my back because even on the lowest possible setting I will get up close and personal with the ceiling (I seem to have some silly issue with having electricity in my body, thanks to all of the shock therapy my mother received when I was a kid, and having seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

    I digress.

    My favorite was absolutely traction. The gentle pull felt heavenly. The stretching helps, as does time. My favorite stretch was to hold both knees up to my chest and then, keeping my chest facing the ceiling, rotate my raised knees to one side, then the other. I don’t know if that will flare your bursitis, but I’m hoping that because you keep your knees together and can do it ever so slowly you might not have that issue.

    Even if you’re not 100% I’m sure you’ll have a great time on your vacation. You’ll just have to spend more time lazing on the beach, and drink more alcohol. Alcohol does dull pain…

  7. Rah, rah!

    Shish boom bah!

  8. Go KATE!

    Or maybe: Go awaaaaaaaay PAIN!

    I get sciatica when pregnant, too. Chiropractor every morning, yay! At least it’s just down the road. But I’m guessing PT kinda makes chiro redundant.

    At any rate: Gooooooo KATE!!!!

  9. Hey Miss Kate,
    I too have been in the same boat more than once, my recent back trauma involving a stagger, lurch, trip, stumble, and fall agrivated an injury three years old that stemmed from helping D and Kristi move a crib. I tried to move the bohemoth on my own and it flattened me to the driveway with extreme prejudice. I tweaked it a few days ago and have been doing the same stretching routine that you seem to be working on. It sucks but will get better I swear. …And it’ll limber ya up for the commencement of baby makin’. “All ways look on the bright side of life”(<=insert whistling)

  10. Oh (hug) I know how frustrating this feels, hang in there you never know tomorrow might be one of those ever elusive “good days”…

  11. Thanks, guys. Really. I’m not good at the hurry-up-and-wait thing, but I get that this is going to take a while. Striving for patience…

    But y’all make a fabulous bunch of cheerleaders, and I’m having a great time picturing you in the little short skirts. Especially Bob.

    I have to admit, Gretchen has one up on the rest, because she showed up at my house with cheesecake today. But still, I’m feeling the love.

    (And, um… I’m flatly refusing to allow back pain OR bursitis to slow down the baby-making practice. Ahem.)

  12. On that note, Ms, Kate. may I say that nice, slow, babymaking actually helped whatever was out of whack in my back get back in whack on more than one occasion….

  13. Back pain is the worst. Keep up with the PT and I will send good thoughts your way for quick healing (or at least good enough progress as you go!).

  14. Rah rah ree kick it in the knee…
    Ra rah rass kick it in the ….

    Ok its all I got! 😉 Feel better soon

  15. I hope you’re feeling better Kate.

  16. I had the electrode-pulsy things for my quad. Except I had to clench when the current was on, but that was likely due to the fact that my quad had completely atrophied and my brain no longer remembered where it was or how to use it.

    Good times.

  17. um, that was me.

  18. […] And, of course, the emotions have been all over the place, some of which shone through here (see Monday’s whine about physical therapy, for example). I haven’t felt especially crankier than usual (though a […]

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