Hope you’re enjoying this splendid spring weather - it’s been a long time coming!
This is a rather ‘weird’ email update in that it might well read to be a bit vain and self-important on my part, however, that is not my intention! ;-)
Many of you have been really lovely this last few weeks asking me how I’m getting on with my sore back. I wanted to let you know that I’m very appreciative of the care and consideration you’re showing this 35 year old who’s walking around like he’s 80!
If you’re not aware I had a bad back way back in March when I flew over to the UK. This lasted for 2.5-3 weeks but then went away pretty quickly, luckily well in time for Manhattan in June. There was no one specific incident that triggered it off, I simply think it’s a combination of poor posture and having two kiddies under the age of 5 who I spend a lot of time carrying etc. The hardest thing recently has been the feeling that I can’t get down on the ground and play games with them as it hurts too much! Following Manhattan the plan was to spend more time playing with the kids and less time in the water training for a big event, but sadly the back hasn’t helped this cause and that’s been a tad upsetting for me.
Since getting back from the US in July I’ve been suffering from a lot of lower back pain, which is always worse on the early morning sessions when it’s at it’s stiffest. With the brilliant help of my physio wife Michelle and more recently Christine Lowe (squad swimmer and from Horizon Physiotherapy in Scarborough) and referrals from Dr Lorry Dembo (also in the squad), we’ve managed to ascertain with an MRI scan last week that I have indeed herniated my L5/S1 lower lumbar disc which is causing me a lot of pain down my right leg, even to the point of making it neigh-on impossible to put my socks on in the morning!! To say I’m feeling old before my time would be a massive understatement!! After 12 weeks of this I’m a little fed up with it as I’m sure those of you who’ve suffered bad back problems will attest to. I’ve kept this relatively quiet, but if you’ve noticed me grimacing or being a little quieter / grumpier than normal on some mornings, this is why.
On Friday I had a shot of cortisone into the area which will hopefully help to alleviate some of the swelling. It’s then a case of utilising the following to hopefully strengthen up the area so I don’t fall foul of this again:
- pilates / physio with Chris and Michelle
- stand-up office (pictured - as recommended by Ray S from the squad - thanks Ray, works a treat!)
- inverted traction machine
- funny MBT shoes to correct my posture on pool deck
- experimenting with different sleeping positions
So why tell you all this? Why be seemingly so full of self-importance that you should need to know about my injury woes? Well if you’ve ever experienced chronic pain before, it’s very easy to get yourself into a “woe is me” cycle when every time you think about the pain, it’s a constant reminder that something is wrong. I’ve always seemed to come through injuries in the past when I focused less on the pain and more on the management of that injury. That’s not to ignore it in the hope it just goes away, but to channel my energies on the positive of getting better. This all seems like common sense of course, but it’s very easy to fall down and start getting a little grumpy about it all when the reality is that I am in a good deal of pain when most of you see me on pool deck. However, rather than seek your sympathy, I am hoping that we can do the exact opposite - I will aim to keep a bright, cheery face on at each session but request please that despite knowing you’re simply showing an interest when you ask “how’s the back?”, if you could refrain from doing so, that’d be really appreciated. For me it just tends to trigger off the negative cycle of the awareness of the pain.
So what can you do? Tell me about you of course! Or if you’re really keen, ask me how my big butt is coming along…?! Chris and Mish both agree I need to work on developing my glutes, so if you see my buns of steel starting to bulge then you know I’m on the right track! Lastly, you’d laugh if you’d heard the doctor who did my MRI suggest that I might like to consider taking up swimming, as the irony of all this is that swimming and having my back in extension is one of the best sources of relief for me, so long as I don’t do too many tumble-turns - the river it is then!! :-)
Thanks again for all your well wishes, I really appreciate them, for now I realise I need to get out of this negative cycle and start moving positively forward and your assistance with this will be awesome.