A quick disclaimer–please excuse any typos or misspelled words in this post. I am doing this on my iPhone and flat on my back in bed. That being said, on with it…
Saturday morning, instead of our usual hour and a half yoga class (since my boyfriend was away at a weekend retreat with the organization he volunteers for, I thought I would walk in Coronado. And for this walk I wanted to do the route that was interrupted by cockroach boy on the 24th of September last year. I had not walked that way around the island since the attack, though I had revisited the scene of the crime almost 2 weeks before. I enlisted a good friend of mine and he was at my door at 6a. All went well. I had no physical symptoms come up. He asked, and I showed him, exactly where it had happened. No big deal, right? Anyway, we continued on and made our way back to the other side of the island. I went home, showered, ate and started working. Everything seemed perfectly fine. As I was sitting at my sewing machine, though, I felt a little twinge in my back and thought, ‘that’s odd.’ So I got up and went in the living room to lie on the floor to stretch it out. It felt okay, so I went back to the sewing machine. After a minute, I felt it again. This time, though, when I tried to stand up, I couldn’t. My chair is on wheels, so I rolled myself into my bedroom and used the frame of my bed and the window sill to push myself up to standing. I then laid on the bed and stretched my back some more, while I googled back spasms. Everything I read said ice it for 24-48 hours. Okay, I thought, and got up and went to get my lima beans (I HATE beans, so there’s no chance of accidentally eating them) and proceeded to ice my lower back for 20 minutes. I had draped my torso over the edge of the bed, with my legs bracing myself on the wall. When I tried to get up, I couldn’t. Basically I was stuck.
My phone was in the middle of the bed and as I attempted to reach for it, I realized if I stretched my arm out, I would be hitting the floor. I could just feel my back starting to seize. I thought, ‘oh crap, now what am I supposed to do’? I started pulling the bedspread towards me, little by little, until the phone was in my hand. I called Laura and she rushed over. (Thank God she was home and not in Palm Springs where she had planned to be.) She came in and somehow managed to pick me up and toss me on the bed. This was both a good thing (I was no longer stuck in a ridiculous position) and an excruciatingly painful thing, as that caused my back to go into complete spasms. I screamed, and kept screaming because, although I was now on the bed, I was in a weird half up and half down position. She had to flip me onto my back, all the while I am screaming in pain. The pain was no better once I was lying flat, but after a bit, it let up a little. At least I wasn’t screaming anymore. Her first thought was get me to the hospital. Obviously, that would mean calling the paramedics. I argued that there was nothing that they could do for me and it would cost me $1000, at the very least. Unfortunately, I have been through this before, though not in quite the same way, and I know I just have to wait it out.
The first time this happened to me was in about 1997 and I collapsed while working. My (then) husband eventually came down to my workroom and found me on the floor. He tried to get me up, but I passed out from the pain and back down to the floor I went.
He (we) decided to just let me lie there for a while and try again. After about an hour, he came back and by this time I had to pee. There was a (gross) toilet down there, but it made more sense to get me upstairs so I wasn’t stuck in the basement. We, of course, lived on the 3rd floor. Slowly, but very slowly, we made our way up to the apartment. He took me in the bathroom and lowered me to the toilet and left the room. When I finished, I tried to stand up, but passed out from the pain, and ended up on the floor. Again. (What’s really amazing is, given all the times I’ve passed out and hit my head, that I don’t have significant brain damage. And I’m sure there are those that would say I actually do!) So my husband comes and picks me up and walks me to the bedroom and tells me to stay there, that next time I need to go to the bathroom, he’ll help me down and back up off the toilet. I called my (physician) mother and asked what I should do. She informed me there was nothing to be done, that I would get better each day and in 3 days, I’d be fine. Dang, if that’s not exactly what happened.
The next, and last, time it happened was in July 2010. That time, though, my back threatened for 2 years. The day it went out I was in Point Loma for a Bar Method (a ballet-based exercise) class. It was definitely hurting during the class and afterwards, I was unable to bend over to tie my shoes. I had to sit in a chair and put my feet up in the air to tie them. I gingerly made my way down the steps to my car and got in. I could barely extend my leg and it hit me that this was a major problem as I have a stick-shift and a clutch. I had to move the seat all the way up to be able to work the pedals. How I made it home without crashing is still a mystery. When I did get here, luckily my next door neighbor was outside in the back when I pulled up and haphazardly parked. She helped me out of the car and walked me into my house and straight to my bed, where I spent 6 days.
On saturday, after I stopped screaming, I called my mother and she reiterated what I already knew and had told Laura: nothing to do but rest and wait it out.
Periodically, for the rest of Saturday, a spasm would hit me. I was glad the weather has been cool and all the windows are closed. My neighbors couldn’t hear my screams and thinking I was being murdered, call the police. With all the lying around I’ve been doing, I’ve had plenty of time to try and figure out why this happened and with no warning. My conclusion is this: As you can see from the previous paragraphs, I have definite issues with my back. I always wondered why the attack did not injure my back more. Oh sure, it hurt somewhat, but it was more my neck from the whiplash that gave me the most trouble. Now, I think I understand why my back went now, after I finally made it back to the scene of the crime and graduated from therapy, and not when the attack occurred. It was my body’s way of protecting me, for making it so I was physically able to go to therapy each week, and be able to work through all that had to be dealt with to heal from the attack. With it all behind me now and 5 days out of therapy, my back decided it was the perfect time to go out.
And go out it did. I’ve been in bed now since approximately 1:45p on Saturday (but who’s counting?) This time it is completely different from the other times. This time I literally cannot get up. At all. You might be wondering, how does one go to the bathroom if one cannot move? Laura did her best to cajole me out of bed Saturday night, but if you can’t move, you can’t move and no amount of telling me I HAVE to get up will make me get up. Ever resourceful, though, Laura went off to Rite Aid to see what was available for invalids such as me. She returned with ‘bladder control pads for women’ and ‘disposable bed pads’ meant for kids. Hey, at least there are options. For those of you who have never purposely peed in bed, (which I, of course, did as a kid, but that’s a whole other story) it’s a lot harder than you might think. First of all, I have to put this really long (practically goes from my belly button to the center of my back) and really thick (picture on old-fashion Kotex, doubled) pad over me and ya gotta hold it in place or you end up peeing on the pee pad, which is, fortunately, there just for that reason. The sensation, though, is strange: it is very warm and it feels like pee is going everywhere. And, believe it or not, it is really hard to pee lying down. Gravity is not working in my favor. For some reason, too, although I am drinking hardly any water (so I don’t have to pee) I am peeing all the time. You cannot believe how excited and happy I’ll be to be able to get out of bed and use the bathroom. It’s the small things in life that mean so much!
This seems to be the last part of my healing from the sexual assault. The EMDR cleared out all the crap I was still holding onto from my childhood and the other various traumas I’ve suffered in my lifetime, including this one. I successfully went back to the scene of the crime without any triggers being activated. I do tend to hold my stress in my lower back, and without question, the last 13+ months were extremely stressful for me. Now that stress is out, and as soon as I am able to move again, I’ll be completely shiny and new! Thinner, too, since I haven’t had much to eat and am still carrying the weight I gained after the attack. Yes, it is ALL working out perfectly and just as it is meant to.
I have no idea how long I’ll be stuck in bed. Luckily, I have my iPhone and iPad and books and magazines to occupy my time. Still, it is incredibly boring. Please say a prayer and send lots of healing energy my way.
Hi! I just now read this… HOPING that you are better..much better! Sending you lots of LOVE and prayers! Joyce
Thanks, Joyce! Still in bed and doing my best not to go out of my mind. Bill is coming over at lunch today and he’s going to help me get up. At least that is the plan. Still in pain but a little better each day. After I am finally up and more or less back to normal, I have got to figure out how to make sure this NEVER happens again. Three times in my life is quite enough!
Ugh, Tamerie, so sorry you are down with this again. It is so NOT fun. I had these sorts of horrendous back spasms where I was in bed for 10 days-2 weeks, and after the 2nd case, I decided to do something about it. Now I have regularly scheduled chiropractic care followed by a 2 hour massage. If I do this at least once a month, I do not have back problems. I have never had spasms since I began this sort of therapy, and it’s been over 10 years now, thank God! Good luck to you, and I hope you are back on your feet again very soon.
You are so right about it not being any fun. In fact, I think I’d rather have a root canal, because at least I could move around. I want to talk more about what you’ve done to prevent yours from returning. We still need to go to Happy Hour, so once I am ambulatory again, we should make a date. Hopefully, Dana and Deb can make it, too.