Sunday, June 14, 2009

What a Spaz!

Ibuprofen, my old friend --
I've come to chew on you again.
It's been four hours since my last two pills
that take the edge off this pain that kills.
And it hurts even worse than a swift kick in the balls,
or cycling falls...
leaving the sound of groaning

Thursday morning when I tried to put on my socks my back exploded in pain as a muscle spasm gripped it. I dropped to my knees, sobbing profanity, trying to breathe.

Within a minute or two I could move a little. I managed to evade my wife's notice as I made my way to my bike. Maybe I could ride my way out of this. Perhaps spinning the gear would ease the spasm and end this misery.

Then again, perhaps not. I crawled to work at about 14 miles per hour. Once I got on the bike the actual pedaling wasn't too bad. Getting off it was another matter. I could barely drag it into the shop. But what the hell. If I was going to be in miserable agony I might as well be at work. Who wants to waste a day off on that?

Every few minutes I had to sit down as the pain made me nauseous. Good times! I left my wife a phone message to tell her I was incapable of walking across town for a violin lesson. In return, she brought me pain killers and a cold pack to put on the knotted muscles.

My boss dragged my twisted carcass to my house after work. Friday I only left my house to get a massage.

Things are getting better. No disks seem to be involved. Massagiste says the likely trigger was the psoas muscle, a deeply-situated hip flexor. Stretching it as part of an overall campaign seems to be helping, along with fistfuls of my one-time favorite snack food, ibuprofen.

This is the problem with mindlessly cycling hard, day after day, with an aging body. Things like this sneak up on you. I used to be obsessive about stretching and supportive conditioning. Unfortunately, between work, domestic chores and transit time, I have to slice the remaining minutes pretty finely. The weights and stretching kept getting squeezed out. The stretching obviously has to squeeze back in.

I'll just cut back on work.

Pains like this are scary when they seem to come out of nowhere. I felt absolutely fine, with none of my usual warning twinges. It was a classic case. Pain like that makes you wonder if you'll ever move freely again. Prior to the Big Stiffie of rigor mortis, that is.


Rantwick said...

Stretching. Why one earth do I (and you, it would seem) not do it? I usually try to ride easy for the forst five minutes or so, but that's not cutting it for me either anymore. I recently pulled something while stretching my arms over my head while seated at my desk... sad.

Thanks for the Simon and Garfunkel treatment!

Ham said...

Do wish you better, I try not to think on how things are going to get worse as the years go by. I, too, try to take it easy for 5 minutes, but it doesn't seem to work.

I've had a bad back since 14, and occasionally been bent double with spasm. Fortunately, that position is not too far away from what you need to ride. After years of osteopaths etc, the best result I had was from a french physio in a ski resort.

After an experience of spasm with an osteopath, I was expecting to be unable to ski. Instead, the physio gave me a deep massage and I was back on my feet the next day.

I occasionally take Ibrufen, but try not to in the morning because I then end up riding too fast and suffering after. The thing that does the worst for my back is the state of London Roads.

But anyway, here's a useful tip given to me by the chief chemist at Boots (who created Ibrufen). If you ever drink too much, take two ibrufen BEFORE going to sleep. The action of the drug dilates the blood vessels in the brain and prevents you getting a headache in the first place.

cafiend said...

Rantwick, I used to stretch constantly. Picked up the habit in college and pursued it for decades before wandering away. Time to return to the faith.

Glad you appreciate my mangling of a popular classic. I'm here all week! (That's a hard one to sing accurately, BTW.)

Ham, I, too, try not to make eye contact with advancing age. At he same time I try to cultivate techniques to help defy what I do not name.

Funny you should mention physio at a ski resort. I had a back spasm not as bad as this one, but more persistent, during a winter in the early 1990s. Telemark skiing at Wildcat one icy day, my rear ski took out my front ski so my feet shot out from under me completely before I dropped straight to the icy slope hard enough to jolt the breath out of me. When I stood up my back was perfect. I have tried since then to duplicate the effect of Wildcat Chiropractic with mixed success.

That's also a cool tip about yet another use for Ibbies (recommended by their creator no less!) Seldom necessary anymore in my old and wise condition, but one to file away.

Doohickie said...

Can I quote the Simon and Garfunkel takeoff (and also the dog cartoon in the adjacent post)? I know some people that would find those very amusing. One rider in our club has been bitten twice. She has vowed never to use steak sauce as sunblock ever again.

;- )

cafiend said...

Doohickie, the Simon and Gar is up for grabs, but make sure the cartoon is properly credited. I had delusions of professionalism once. I haven't quite driven a stake through the heart of that dream yet.