What an incredibly fragile yet miraculously resilient thing the human body is. Last week my back started hurting, possibly from carrying too many 18kg bags of dog food and getting lazy with my manual handling. I’m still not too sure why or when it began, but karate on Thursnight seemed to make it worse. A gentle massage from Beth on Frinight might have helped a little, but on Saturmorn when I went to taiji, I had to excuse myself from class about five moves in. As I did a particularly low posture something twinged. I did some yoga, did some foam rolling and took it easy for the rest of the class. Sifu suspected that I inflamed the muscles around my spine, causing them to lock up in order to minimise movement and prevent further damage. With only a minor familiarity with human injuries, I had hypothesised the same thing the night before. I find it amazing how wise we can be from just listening to our bodies rather than ignoring them. He suggested heat and a gentle massage to relieve the tension, and I went home early to get ready for work.
After having a shower and a brief lunch though, my body cooled down enough to let the muscles lock back up again. I began limping, and then occasionally a movement would case me to spasm in pain and fall to the ground. I was determined to go to work anyway because I’d been late twice that week and had already taken a day off, but as I put one leg into the car, I couldn’t help but cry out in pain. After a few seconds it subsided, and I managed to lift my other leg high enough to swing it inside the door. I decided then that I probably wouldn’t be much use at work and reluctantly called in sick for the next few days. I spent the rest of the afternoon hobbling around like an old man.
When I woke up the next day, most of the pain was gone. I was delighted! But as I started walking around happily, my muscles remembered they were there and began to seize up again. By 10am I was limping, and by 2pm I was holding onto furniture for support as I shuffled slowly around the house. I sent a message to Trev, the brilliant trainer who runs the circus conditioning classes I sometimes go to, who is also a top notch physiotherapist. He met me at the dojo on Monmorn, whipped out his magical table and watched me walk around for a while. I had felt my posture shifting forwards (like one of the horrendous worm aliens from Men in Black) but he also observed it was twisted. I was a little confused when he started massaging the front of my hips, rather than my back where the pain was located, but he explained that when the body is injured, it instinctively uses the bigger muscles to draw strain away from the smaller muscles. Thus the hips kind of lock up in a band to minimise unpleasant movement, which is why 80% of back injuries can be improved by releasing the tension in the front of the hips. To my amazement my posture dramatically improved and I felt light and loose, practically pain-free. He worked on my back a little and gave me some front-of-the-hip and quadricep stretches to do every hour for the next few days.
Fast forwards to Wednesafternoon. Three of my wisdom teeth had come through more-or-less straight and beautiful, but one was taking it’s sweet time and getting infected as it did so. It was decided to remove it, and since I was getting one out, I was persuaded to get them all out to prevent further pain in the future. I didn’t realise I had a choice about how many to get removed, and that there would be a significant cost difference, but I went with it anyway. The anaesthetist put a tourniquet around my bicep, but try as he might he couldn’t quite get the canula in my arm. While he was jabbing away, I began to feel very light-headed and intensely nauseous, and stopped paying any attention whatsoever to what my dental surgeon was explaining about the procedure. They stopped jabbing so I could explain I already signed a consent form – it was over there in the black clipboard inside my bag, could you please just knock me unconscious and steal my teeth now – and then he shifted the canula to the inside of my elbow and there it stayed. It worries me that I’m started to hate needles – I always considered them a test of courage, knowing that pain was coming but that it would do no real damage, and not flinching away when it hit. For some reason that attempt at giving blood, and now this… I didn’t have too long to worry about it because I started to feel suddenly tired. I had enough brainpower to realise it was the anaethesia, and I welcomed it blissfully.
I heard people talking a little while later and managed to open my eyes. An hour had passed and the anaesthetist was happily chatting away about kitesurfing or something. I assumed that they were done, and eventually I managed to raise my head enough for the assist to notice I was trying to sit up. I felt pretty good, just sleepy, and there was something in my mouth. Turned out to be gauze pads which I was chomping on to stem the bleeding. I couldn’t feel my chin or lower lip at all, and it was really bizarre to stick my tongue out and feel it with my tongue but not my lip. I prodded around for a bit trying to see if they had left gauze in my mouth, but I was getting blood everywhere so I sheepishly stopped. My parents came to pick me up, and I have vague recollections of Dad cracking embarrassing jokes. Seemun, my dentist, consoled me by saying her Dad was exactly the same. When I stood up to go, I was overcome with dizziness so I got put in a wheelchair. It was awesome. As my parents sorted out payment, I slyly unlocked the wheels and rolled myself over to the TV, just for the pleasure of rolling myself around.
On the information and self-care sheet, the dentist had suggested I drink a powerade after the surgery. She didn’t tell me that I would have a great deal of trouble drinking. I turned my head to the ceiling, squirted some in my mouth, then closed lips and turned my head forwards again. Or at least I thought I did. My lips wouldn’t form a seal properly because they were numb, so I just dribbled powerade and blood all over myself. I found it hilarious, and as I laughed, the saturated gauze pads fell out. It was a very messy car-ride home, and I wished I had had the foresight to wear black.
The numbness was the most annoying thing about the whole procedure. I had been fasting since 10am, and I wasn’t able to eat until around 8pm because I just couldn’t move my face properly. I learned to drink by squirting the powerade into my mouth, swallowing while looking up, then repeating. It was still a bit messy, but at least I had changed into a black top. I replaced the gauze every twenty minutes until I ran out, but thankfully the bleeding had stopped by then. I watched The Matrix with as little effort as possible, snapping at people (even poor Bethi who was beaming me love and support. I didn’t want love and support, I just wanted to lie down and watch The Matrix without having to care about how other people felt! How inconsiderate!) while holding oversized ice packs wrapped in tea towels to my face. I was so relieved when the sensation returned to my face, but as the numbness withdrew, the pain set in. I tentatively and painfully ate a little jelly, which was okay, and then some Le Rice (which was fabulous. I nearly ate the second tub as well), took my three antibiotics and a painkiller, then had a whole tin of soup. Mmmm, all this talk of food is making me hungry. Might go get some (vegan) jelly and ice cream.
I didn’t rinse my mouth out to led the blood clot and then went to bed. When I woke up (far too early, but reasonably well-rested) most of the pain was gone. No swelling, only a tiny bit of soreness when I opened my jaw to eat a breakfast of oats, and only a few drops of blood as I brushed my teeth and sutures. I consider myself ridiculously lucky not to need constant ice packs to reduce my chipmunk cheeks, or streams of painkillers in order to let me function. All in all, a reasonably pleasant experience! Hope you guys are enjoying the rest of your weeks.