Many of my favorite health and personal development professionals have said that they’ve had an “on my knees” moment of dark despair (e.g., Christine Hassler, Elizabeth Gilbert) or a health crisis (e.g., Christa Orecchio, Chris Kresser) that caused them to pursue their personal healing path and, subsequently, to teach others how to be healthier…both in mind and body. These professionals wrote about their experiences once they were safely on the other side of the crisis. I admired that but was simultaneously grateful that I had no such health crisis or "on my knees" moment of despair…until December 10th. And I am writing this while still very much in the midst of the crisis.
December 10th… I wore my favorite pair of black boots (which had a bit more of a heel than most of my other, more sensible footwear) to a Holiday party. After about two hours at the party, my back felt uncomfortably tight. As we walked to our car and I sat in the driver’s seat, my back and my glutes began to spasm…not like the “oh I feel a twinge” spasm but the “this feels like my back could rip in half” spasm. After a torturous 20 minute drive home, I somehow made it into bed, praying that rest would heal all. It didn’t. I woke to a very similar condition, but now, the pain was concentrated in my left glute. I had had issues with my piriformis muscle (small muscle in the glute region adjacent to the sciatic nerve) before, so I assumed that after a few days of the dreaded pigeon pose and other stretches, I’d ease back into normal patterns of life. But, this pain was an entirely different beast. I couldn’t sit down because pain would shoot from my glutes upward to my lower back and downward all the way to my toes. So I stood…for everything-for work, for meals, for putting together puzzles at the counter with my son. I endured it for many days, still hoping it would ease on its own (not likely, I know, but I can be stubborn). After having to get up multiple times every night for the past 6 nights to pace the house because lying in bed was painful, I called Uncle.
Bright and early Saturday morning, I wedged myself into the car and drove to my primary care walk in clinic. After a brief examination, the doc told me he didn’t think it was serious and prescribed muscle relaxers, narcotics, and prednisone and instructed me to try the first, and if it didn’t bring relief, discontinue and move to the second. I loathe taking medication, but this was a desperate time, and desperate times called for muscle relaxers, which did nothing, so I progressed to the narcotic which made me feel spacey and may have caused me to incorrectly label some of the Christmas gifts I was attempting to wrap from an awkward standing position. After a couple of days, I realized the narcotics had no value, and I tried community and individual acupuncture. I started physical therapy with a very reputable firm in the area in which the diagnosis of piriformis syndrome was confirmed, and I increased the frequency of visits to my craniosacral physical therapist who had helped me correct anterior pelvic tilt. I went to the chiropractor like it was my job. And still…no relief. So, after wandering the halls of my house early, early, early Christmas morning, I googled “prednisone side effects.” I read the facts and decided the side effects were worth the risk. I gulped down two prednisone tablets and hoped for the best. Within about 20 minutes, I felt my back and sacroiliac joint unfurl, and I slept.
Christmas morning, the pain was better but still mostly miserable. Walking (aka hobbling) was more comfortable than sitting or lying, so we stayed in motion most of Christmas day. Between Christmas and the new year, I underwent more PT, more chiropractor adjustments, and the pain still remained. I started intently researching…okay obsessively researching. Treatments from Dr. Google spanned the gamut from bed rest to rolling with tennis balls to surgery. Sigh. I tried a lot, and nothing worked. After physical techniques were failing, I turned back to my roots and looked at the mind-body connection, and that is where the next phase of the journey began.
To read about my entire journey, click HERE to download my free e-book.