On December 5, 2012 I found myself on the floor unable to rise in our family room upstairs. That night we had settled in for the evening to watch a favorite show. I gathered my soft pillow from my bed and a couple of cozy blankets and created a nest in front of my television. I am sure I floated in and out of sleepiness from a long day of writing, cooking and mothering. I was ready for a small break and to indulge in some mindless escapism through the boob tube.
The pain in my lower back region was sharp and knife like as I rolled over and tried to stand. It radiated up my spine and nestled into the round section of my neck, the part before you start to enter your hairline. Ouch this is not good, I thought to myself.
Pain--unbearable pain-and the sense of helplessness came to mind immediately as I searched for the help that I needed to raise my body from the floor. My husband was not far from me in a chair watching the tv. I struggled on my own to get my feet underneath myself so that I could rise, after a short time, I needed help and called for him and together I managed to get up from the floor.
What had just happened? I was fine on the floor, laying down watching one of our favorite shows and then out of the blue my life stopped for a month. A WHOLE MONTH I was laid up with a back and neck issue. Some days in bed, some days painfully walking and a lot of sitting on hard surfaces.
At the time I thought maybe a few days of rest and I could bounce right back to my old ways of cooking, running around and living the fast life of a stay at home Mom <----That last part was a joke!
Being a Mom is busy and when my back decided to go out during one of the busiest blogging and holiday seasons of the year, a bit of despair entered into my life for the first time in a few years. I started to feel those gentle strands of doubt, frustration and depression emerging from behind a door I had thought was pad locked.
How did this happen? Why now? Is a doctor needed? Why? Why? Why?
I asked that a lot as I was miserable and trying to hold it together for my family. We had things planned, I had shopping to do, dinners to make and deadlines to meet. In the course of the weeks leading up to my slow recovery, I was all over the place mentally and with my internal self.
I had family coming into town the following weekend. I did the best I could cleaning the house but it was not easy and it was far from perfect. I depended a lot on my husband and kids to help with the vacuuming, changing beds, mopping and any chore that required lifting or bending. I found a few things that I could do but not many.
My frustration was mounting. I don't like being dependent on my family, especially my kids and husband. We all lead busy lives and to think that they were having to carry my load was a lot to swallow and ask.
For 10 days I waddled around the house, trying to work, clean and cook. I tried to stay upbeat and positive but I will be the first to admit, it was hard. When you feel pain all the time your mind starts to play games with you. You make promises with yourself that in normal circumstances you would not rationally commit to. For example, "If my back would just stop hurting, I promise to exercise everyday." I know for some that is not irrational thinking, but it was for me because I just don't have time everyday to visit the gym.
My husband and I have had this conversation before about a quality of life verses a quantity of life. Would I want to live longer or shorter based on how I took care of myself now, today? I try so hard to not take unnecessary or extra over the counter medications. Personally I would like my body to heal on its own. If I have a headache- I will drink water. If my tummy hurts- I will rest. If my shoulder is in pain- I won't use it for a few days; my back was a totally different beast! I needed to take action soon.
Despite my reason's for not wanting to take a large amount of over-the-counter medications I felt that at this time I needed relief and comfor to stay sane, pain free and to be in better mental spirits than the other option , which was going crazy. I felt like I was going a bit crazy trying to deal with the pain and stir crazy from being laid up during a festive time.
Why not just go to the doctor? That is a good question and one that I was at odds with. Our healthcare was not great at the time(we have changed since) and I did not want to burden my family with any undue medical expenses when in the past, this back thing would go away in a day or so. There were some other personal reasons that, at that time, it was not the best option for me.
I had to function so I decided to take the aspirin and ibuprofen to endure the days. It felt so foreign to who I was to take so many pills and for so many days in a row. I finally realized that my mind needed the reprieve from the pain but so did my body. They allowed my body to heal faster too.
With a lot of rest, way more than I ever would have thought would be needed, my back started to feel better.
During this time I did not wear my kitchen aprons but round Christmas, I was feeling better, not perfect, but well enough that I wanted to make something. Out went my hand behind the door in my office and I reached for a my apron.
As I select my choice and lift it over my hatted head, it rest on my neck. I tie the back and head to my happy place, the kitchen.
The medication is working, I am rested and full of ideas. While I was resting I also was planning what I would venture to make first. I knew it should be something simple and loved by my family. Chocolate Covered Strawberries are always a festive and delicious treat.
As time went by, I noticed the pain slowly creeping back into my system. UM, what is happening?
I stop for fear that I will over do it and quickly finished dipping the strawberries and go rest in my room.
On Saturday we decided to go downtown and walk a bit. I learned that I should keep moving so that things don't get stiff. I looked forward to seeing the sailboats, the little shops filled with holiday lights and inhaling the fresh sea air. I grabbed my black fluffy vest, wore my boots and reached for a scarf.
I love my scarves! My first trip to New York City in 2005 is where I bought my first cashmere scarf. I own too many to admit but to say I wear them all the time is an honest statement.
We journey downtown and with my scarf and coffee in hand we had a splendid afternoon. Towards the end of our downtown walk my neck was aching.
Like a light bulb in a silly cartoon above a characters head, I had an epiphany. Scarves and Aprons
I just had not put the two together until right at that moment. I removed my scarf and the pain eased up. From that day forward I have not worn a scarf very often and if I do it is very loosely set on my shoulders and does not rest on my neck.
Same with my aprons; I stopped wearing anything that pulled down on my neck. I determined that the problems I was having with my back and neck was, in part, due to the overuse of aprons and scarves and how it was causing my neck to sit and be held in an awkward position, for long periods of time.
All of my aprons tie around my neck. I was a bit heartbroken because I could not wear one of my valued aprons. When to my wonderful surprise I remembered an apron that my MIL once owned that tied in the back, but with a criss-cross pattern.
Figuring out that I could take the neck tie and tie it to the waist tie strip, was a stroke of genius on my part, or so I thought. This created a criss-cross in the back and has allowed me to continue wearing something I enjoy without the undue stress of two ties knotted together and pulling on my neck.
I can finally say that I am fully relieved from my neck and back pain.
I cannot say with total knowledge that these two items were the cause of pain in my back and neck but they have reduced any symptoms I was having by not wearing them as I used to. I am now trying to figure out how to get to the gym everyday so that I can keep some of those promises I made with my "in pain" self. Good luck with that one, said with a smile, and an honest desire to try.