One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

April 9, 2010

Instincts

Well? Who wants another post whining about my health?

I thought so.

Anyhow, my back pain continues. My chiropractor gave me a sheet full of stretches at my first visit. I tried them, they felt arduous, but not stretchy. Like, I didn’t have any muscles that said, “yeah, we are at the limits of our flexibility,” instead it just felt like a lot of hard work getting down on your back on the floor and then using your hands to pull your legs into various positions that didn’t seem to stretch the muscles they were supposed to before they ran into obstacles like my shoulders.

I continued to do the yoga positions I find most useful, as needed. (Read, reactively, but not preventatively. I’m still too busy.)

At my second visit, he gave me a list of exercises to do with the tension tubing and told me to buy some tension tubing at the front desk. I did. But I didn’t do the exercises.

When I next saw my massage therapist, I mentioned to her that during my last pregnancy, I’d had symphysis pubis dysfunction (which is when the ligaments in the pelvis get so loose that the ligament between the left and right part of your pubic bone stretches too far apart and allows some misalignment). It was quite horrible while I was pregnant. It meant I couldn’t walk for more than a couple blocks. Going up the stairs was agony unless I only stepped up with my left leg. (left step, pull right up. left step, pull right up. Talk about putting the able-bodied privilege in its place.) I had to quit wearing winter boots and switch to canvas runners even in Saskatchewan November, because the weight of the boots felt like they were going to rip my pelvis apart. I couldn’t roll over in bed without sitting up and using my hands to turn my feet. And when I got up in the middle of the night to to to the bathroom (which the pregnant ladies do often) I had to get Ian to get up and support me to the bathroom. He made me swear to when he learned that I had been crawling to the bathroom since I physically could not walk at night. It wasn’t the pain, it was just that the muscles were too slack at night to compensate for the loose pelvis and I would physically fall down every time I tried to walk.

‘Kay, so. It got quite a bit better after Hannah was born. Though I had to be pretty careful not to do anything that would put undue strain on my pelvis, like pushing furniture across the room or anything with one leg doing a twisting, kicking or pulling motion. But then I had been remembering how last fall, right before all the back pain started, we had been moving into the new house, and moving stuff around and a couple of times when I’d had a stack of boxes that really just needed to move out of the way, I had tried to nudge them with my foot instead of lifting and moving them six inches. And then I’d had a wrenching pain through my pelvis. And on remembering that I thought, “well hey? Maybe I’ve injured or misaligned the symphesis pubis area and that’s why my lower back & sacroiliac joint on the right is always seizing up – because it needs to compensate.

My massage therapist said, “You really need to tell all that to your chiropractor.”

The next time I saw him, he said, “have you been doing those exercises with the tension band?” And I said, “not so much. See cuz I looked at them and they were all pulling, kicking and twisting leg motions and I don’t do those on accounta my pelvis doesn’t seem stable enough to do those motions against any resistance without wrenching something.”

And I told him the story of my pregnant pelvis.

And he said, “well of course the pubis is involved in this because it’s all part of the pelvic girdle along with those two sacroiliac joints. But, see, how old is your daughter?” And I said, “she’s two.” And he said, “what most women don’t realize is that the hormones that can cause that during pregnancy are still active during breastfeeding. And even-”

“Okay, but I weaned her at ten months,” I interjected.

But he kept right on, “Okay, BUT those hormones can still be active and present even six months after weaning.” And he actually went on at some length, explaining to me about relaxin and stuff that I already knew about, plainly, since I had already explained about having SPD during my pregnancy.

And when he wound down, I said. “But I hadn’t been breastfeeding in over a year when that happened last fall.”

And then he was like, “well whatever. Don’t do the exercises that hurt but you will see a big difference if you at least do these pelvic twisting ones.”

I don’t know why the dismissiveness. I think it’s the self-diagnosing thing that medical professionals hate. And I know where that comes from. Back when I worked on small enough teams that I had to deal with the clients that I also had to build a site for, I totally hated when they’d come in and tell me how to do my job. And I totally adopted an attitude of “look, you hired me to be the professional so how ’bout you stop second-guessing me. I want to solve your problem, but you keep wasting my time and energy on making me explain to you why a Flash-animated splash page is a Bad Idea” or what-have-you.

Still. What? Why be so invested in believing that it’s just some sacroiliac stiffness and the only cause of it was too much sitting? Why is everyone trying to pin it on my supposed weak core body strength and inactive lifestyle? And when I say, “I am very active. I have good core body strength because I belly dance. Don’t tell me about core body strength, can you do a full abdominal belly roll? And I am flexible in my hips because every week I do two hours or more of exercises that require me to twist, roll and angle my entire ‘pelvic girdle’ in every possible direction. I’m doing yoga poses that stretch my lower back, hips and upper legs about every two days. I’m very flexible, I’m just stiff right now because my muscles are really tight and occasionally spasmy (you know, the issue we’re trying to treat). But if I sit down to stretch, and if I’m patient and work with my muscles, waiting for the stiffness to come out, and as long as the muscles aren’t in a spasm, I can stretch far enough that your stretching exercises are useless.”

When I went through this when I was pregnant, at the beginning, before I knew what it was I said to my doctor, “my hips and pelvis are killing me.” And without a blink or a second question, she said, “it’s normal for the lower abdominal ligaments to feel some pulling as the uterus expands. You should be stretching them out more.” And so I did. I stretched religiously and aggressively – and yet it kept getting worse. Of course. Because the problem was not tightness, it was looseness. But it wasn’t until I thought to google “Nighttime falls + pregnancy” that I figured out that actually I should probably not be stretching. I should be minimizing my pelvic motion to protect my pelvis until it could heal or until the baby was born. And I went back to my doctor and said, “it’s not the ligaments. It’s this. And I should probably not be stretching further.” And her response was basically: shrug. I don’t know much about that, so you deal with it however you see fit.

So.

Here’s my plan. I’m going to not do the stretches that the chiropractor recommends. I’m going to keep doing my own stretches and try to limit them to the ones that don’t put a lot of pressure on my pelvis. And I am going to work to strengthen my core and my hips because I am unsatisfied with the degree of recovery in my lower abdominal strength since having Hannah, but it won’t be with twisting/kicking/pulling leg motions. I’ll do planks and jack-knives and pelvic tilts.

Actually this week, the pain has very much been in the front of the pelvis. Rachel and I went to a zumba class at work on Tuesday. And there were a lot of kicks. And during one of the kicks, I overdid it and got that horrible wrenching pain. Wednesday I was doing okay. But Thursday it was so bad that when I tried to take the kids out running errands, I ended up clutching every counter I walked by for support and nearly in tears from the pain of walking by the end of it. Today is a little better – but I’ve been mostly off my feet. I was in pretty bad pain while I made lunch. But after lunch I managed to do some stretching and exercises. I did some of the tension-band exercises, which is pretty much what led me to go, “this is not for me. I am trusting my instincts and the medical professionals who want to chalk my pain up to the natural consequences of my own laziness can go screw.” And so here I am justifying all that to the blog. Tonight I have a massage. And maybe I’ll take a muscle-relaxant before bed and see how much good a decent sleep will do.

Anyhow, I have to go see if my back will let me sit and sew for an hour. I’m finally making progress on my dress. Pictures and gleeful crowing to follow.

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  1. gish

     /  2010-04-13

    I’m sorry you’re still having pain. ;_; And I can totally relate on the dismissive doctor thing. I freaking hate when they ask condescendingly whether I looked it up on the internet. Well, yeah, but I have a freakin’ degree in looking stuff up on the internet, and reading a medical journal on my computer isn’t a lot different from reading it in print. At least your doctor admitted she didn’t know anything about it, I guess. All the doctors I deal with never admit to that, and instead do their best to make me feel like I’m the ignorant one. Anyway, I hope you can figure something out to fix the problem. I hear there are support belts to help keep things in place, as well as the Kegel/pelvic tilt exercises. Maybe an orthopedist could give you better options, if you haven’t been to one yet?

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