June 26, 2009

Catching the Caregiver Back Pain Train

I'm just returning from a two week pity party. You know the kind where you don't think you can handle one more metaphorical---or real, for that matter---hangnail. Giving myself a sharp "get over yourself, everyone has problems" usually keeps pity parties off my property---I'm generally an upbeat kind of person---but not this time. This time, four out-of-place vertebrae were playing sadistic games with the nerves running down my leg and they threw open the front door inviting the pity party pack to camp out in the living room. Woo is me! The cry fest started and the tears were only interrupted with occasional outbursts of succulent statements like: "I can't take care of us like this," "Oh, crap!" and "where is a nursing home when you need one?" I even cursed Don and myself for not having the foresight to have a few kids that we could guilt trip into coming over to help their old folks out in our time of need.

The only thing I was able to accomplish these past two weeks is to drive myself five times to the nearest chiropractor, shove simple foods like cereal and TV dinners towards Don, and let the dog outside almost as often as he needed to go. (And wouldn't you know it, my back problem started the day after we had the carpets professionally cleaned.) Heck, I was in such bad shape that I couldn't even kill an ant that was scouting his way across the bedroom in search of a cozy little place to relocate his colony. All I could do is hope he'd scouted his way half way up a wall where I could assassinate him without bending over. He was a smart little bugger. He never did get within my kill zone, but the gods of small favors did send Levi, our curious wonder puppy, to play the poor ant to death.

Thankfully, the pain is less frequent now and not as intense and instead of longing for that nursing home where all our needs could be met I dream of assisted living where someone comes in do the laundry, see that we eat and are not lying in bed bemoaning the fact that the bathroom is twelve HUGE steps away. I'm making progress. Next week I hope to be confident, again, that I can manage our lives with the decorum of a happy, in-charge woman who is not ready to throw in the proverbial towel.

Caregivers and back pain go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or so I've been told. I don't know why it took me so long to admit that pushing nearly 300 pounds of man and metal chair around has taken its toll on my already aging and not so beautiful body. So next week in addition to playing catch-up for the time lost to the pity party and pain I start physical therapy to learn how to minimize lower back strain. In the meantime I'm armed with my new best friends---the 48 inch body pillow and the handy-Danny PosturePro lumbar support. The first time I climbed on that pillow, face down with all four limbs hanging off, I audibly sighed and thought there really is a light at the end of my caregiver, woe-is-me tunnel and its not a train coming full speed ahead. ©