Twisted Like a Pretzel

Posted: July 29, 2011 in Health, Lifestyle

Back Pain and Wobbly Legs

When I was 17 years old I was involved in a serious car accident that left me with a bad back ever since, so pain in my back and neck is pretty much an everyday issue with me. I’ve learned to live with a sore back and neck throughout my life, but last weekend I noticed the pain was worse than usual. So, while I was at the local supermarket on Sunday, I grabbed a packet of Icy/Hot medicated patches for my back pain and a bottle of Aleve, hoping that would do the trick. The medicated patch soothed the pain somewhat, but the piercing pain in my lower back and throbbing pain in my left side continued to bother me. It felt like someone was poking me with a knife and pulling and twisting my back in all directions.

I had a hard time sleeping on Sunday night, but I managed to finally get some shuteye around three o’clock in the morning. On Monday morning, the pain was pretty bad, but after taking a warm shower, the pain was more bearable. I was pretty miserable at work and started to get some piercing pain in my lower back and a slight tingling in my legs, which triggered the idea of seeing a doctor. However, I thought maybe I just needed another day of taking some Aleve and the pain would eventually go away.

Monday night was just as bad as the night before and then Tuesday morning I could barely get out of bed; the pain was unbearable. My back felt like it was twisted around like a pretzel and the pain in my side was getting worse. However, after taking a warm shower, the muscles in my back loosened up a bit and the pain went away enough to where I thought I could function at work. When I was sitting in my comfy leather chair at my desk the pain wasn’t that bad and sometimes my back didn’t hurt at all. However, when I got up to walk to the networked printer in the Classifieds Department, the pain immediately resurfaced. It got so bad at one point that I felt like someone jabbed a knife into my lower back and twisted it. I then got a tingling sensation in both of my legs. My legs started getting numb and felt wobbly. I almost collapsed to the floor! At that point, I knew it was definitely time to make a visit to the doctor.

The Diagnosis

I went home and worked via remote desktop for a while and then called my doctor, whom I had not seen in over 15 years. While I had been fortunate enough to stay healthy for that long, despite back pains stemmed from a car accident so long ago, the fact that I hadn’t seen my doctor in so long resulted in getting classified as a new patient. My doctor was not seeing new patients, so that left me hunting for a different doctor to see me. I decided to visit a new walk-in clinic that was located about a mile away from my house. I called the walk-in clinic and was told that there wasn’t a long wait, so I immediately wobbled to my car and drove to the clinic.

I filled out some forms and waited about 20 minutes in the lobby before a nurse called my name. She weighed me, took my pulse, asked a bunch of preliminary questions and then took me to Room 3, where I waited another half hour before the doc finally walked inside to see me. I told the doc about my pain and indicated that my pain was mainly focused around the lower to middle of my back and along my left side and the rear left side of my back. After poking my back in several areas and asking if it hurt, the doc asked me if I had ever had kidney stones before. Kidney stones? I’ve heard horror stories about people with kidney stones and now I was concerned. The doc told me that I was having pain around the kidney area and told me that he needed a urine sample to find out for sure. Great. I came to the clinic so I could get the doctor to prescribe me some pain medication, but nooooooo, this doctor starts talking about kidney stones. Ugh! I reluctantly grabbed the little plastic cup, headed over to the bathroom, and provided the doc a sample for the urinalysis.

As I waited for the results of the urinalysis, I thought about the idea of having to pass kidney stones, which hurt just thinking about it. Back pains would be the least of my concerns if I had kidney stones. I waited and waited… and waited for the doctor to come back with my results. Meanwhile I could hear the staff outside my room laughing and telling jokes. Here I was pondering the possibility that there was a rock quarry building up inside my kidney and the staff was telling jokes outside my room. I envisioned the doctor opening the door with a grave look on his face to inform me that I did indeed have kidney stones and that it was going to be an even more painful experience getting rid of them. Just as the nightmare in my head began to form the details of passing those horrible stones, a nurse walked inside with a sheet of paper in his hand and told me that I was good to go. I took the sheet of paper and noticed that it was a prescription for pain medication. I asked the nurse about the urinalysis and he told me that I tested fine. No kidney stones. Thank God!

Drug Cocktail Heaven

The doc prescribed three different medications to take care of my back problem, all of which caused drowsiness. I worked from home on Wednesday and most of the workday on Thursday, and it’s a good thing, too. Taking all three of those medications made me feel REEEEAAAALLY good that day. My back was still pretty twisted, but the drugs masked the pain really well. So, at least I was comfortable enough to do my job. Talking to customers on the phone was interesting to say the least. Considering the fact that I was doped up on pain medication, I sounded like I was inebriated on alcohol. I even dozed off at the keyboard several times throughout the day, but the job got done and I met my page deadline. I was definitely in no condition to be operating a vehicle, so it’s a good thing I had remote access to my computer at work.

Today, I’m feeling quite a bit better, but the pain still comes back when the pain medication wears off. It’s nowhere near as painful as it was earlier this week, though. Hopefully in a few days my back will feel well enough that I don’t need the pain medication at all. I’m just glad I don’t have kidney stones!

Four! Virtual Golf May Be Hazardous To Your Health!

You may be wondering at this point how I actually hurt my back. Well, I hadn’t done any heavy lifting anytime recently, so after a process of elimination, it turns out that I must have hurt it during an evening of Tiger Woods Golf on my Playstation. I recently purchased a Playstation Move (basically works like the Nintendo Wii) and thought playing golf with the motion-detection controller would be fun. It is actually very fun to play with, but I must have played one too many times that my back could handle. Swinging that imaginary club around finally twisted my back enough to land me in the doctor’s office. I just didn’t feel it right away. I realize now and accept the fact that I’m nowhere near as flexible as I used to be. I think I’ll stick to using a regular controller for my golfing adventures from now on. I never would have thought that virtual golf would be hazardous to my health.

  1. […] previous post “Twisted Like a Pretzel” focused on issues that I’ve been having with my back. Since then, I had to see the doc again […]


  2. Steven says:

    Get feeling better, Rob. No more live-action video games for you! =D

    Getting old(er) is a bitch sometimes. I’ve noticed lately I haven’t been able to push myself like I used to, and I’m lucky to maintain a weight. Losing weight…yeah, I managed that a couple of years ago, not so sure if I see that happening again. LOL


    • Thanks, Steven.

      I guess I’ll take your advice to refrain from the live-action video games. I’ll need to find something else to fill that gap… hmm. How about bungee jumping or maybe a demolition derby? I may need to get a subscription to that prescription.


  3. danniehill says:

    The scales thing would make a great post! In these days of teckno everything- why don’t they make a scale that can view your temperament at the time you step up and if all else fails– lie. LOL


    • LOL! A scale that’s politically correct? Or maybe have a scale that’s brutally honest, complete with commentary. I’m not sure which would be better, but I know which one would be the most amusing, though.


  4. danniehill says:

    Great post, Rob. I hate going to the doctor. Wait, wait…wait and then they forget to tell you what’s going on. Of course the drugs help. I think they should give you a few pills as soon as you get there and then the time will fly by.

    As soon as you said virtual golf I fell on the floor. I think it’s true that this new age will kill us all without our knowing it. Good job!


    • Thanks, Dannie. As much as I disliked the visit (and the doctor didn’t have very good people skills, to say the least), I’m glad I got a prescription to take care of the pain.

      I’ve been playing video games since the early 80s and it’s amazing how far technology has come in this industry. I like the idea of getting off the couch and getting physically involved in the game, but as we get older, our bodies just don’t twist and turn like they used to. It was also a wake up call that told me that I need to get in better shape. I have to say I was shocked to see the scale when I stepped on it. However, I’m convinced the scale was malfunctioning. Yeah, we’ll go with that. 🙂