By now I think we’re all tired of hearing about my back, me included. I’ll just bring you up to date and maybe we can all move on and get back to the cruising life, although I guess this is part of it too.
The two trips to the hospital last week wore me out and sent me back to bed to recover. I was in a funk, with Neil Young whining “Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless” on the Great Tape Recorder in my head. Just that, over and over.
A lovely lady named Ilsa from a huge catamaran down the dock came over and gave me a full-on shiatsu massage that really helped me relax. Meanwhile, so many people shared their stories of various disc injuries and almost all of them recommended the same book, “Treat Your Own Back” by Robin McKenzie. Download it, someone said, it really works. I tried. Apparently you can’t get the ebook outside the UK or New Zealand.
I did find a website with the same name, www.treatyourownback.com, and wrote an email begging for a way to get the ebook so I could start to work on getting better. Dr. Paul Strube, a chiropractor trained in the McKenzie technique, wrote back that the ebook wasn’t available. He suggested I subscribe to the website and it would guide me through the McKenzie method with photos and videos. Sounds great, I wrote back, but I’m in a place with marginal bandwidth and can’t possibly watch videos. Even getting to the website took many minutes of painstaking downloading reminiscent of early dialup access. When I explained that text-only emails are the only reliable communications I have, Paul offered to talk me through the Treat Your Own Back process via email. Miraculously, within a few days of Paul describing the steps, the pain was reduced by half and I was able to walk and sit comfortably. Day by day I’m improving so much that Jack and I are starting to get our hopes up for continuing our passage-making this season. We have two long and potentially arduous stretches of ocean to cross before cyclone season begins and I want to be sure I’m past the worst of the back discomfort before we head out to sea. The jury’s still out on that.
For added reassurance, I went to see an orthopedic surgeon at the clinic right in town. I’m not in danger of doing any damage, he told me, and I should just let the amount of pain I feel be my guide on what I can and can’t do. Time will heal the discs, and he advised me to treat my back gently in the future. He stocked me up on various levels of pain meds and anti-inflammatories in case I need them.
All of that is good news but of course I got a little ahead of myself and overdid it for a couple of days. We had a visit from our friends Meryl and Walter of Flying Cloud yesterday who came aboard bearing a beautiful bouquet of flowers and big hugs. We last saw them in the Marquesas and it was great to spend an afternoon catching up aboard EV, then walking to the Papeete market for ice cream. That was three days in a row for me walking through town and this morning I awoke more stiff and sore than I’ve been, so I have to remember to pace myself and take it slow. I’ll keep following the McKenzie steps with Paul’s guidance to realign and strengthen my lower back and I’m determined to achieve full recovery.
So things are looking up and the new song playing over and over in my head is Bonnie Raitt’s “I Will Not Be Broken.” It’s got a better beat, that’s for sure. I might even be able to dance to it sometime soon.