Yesterday afternoon I couldn’t get off the couch. When I say I couldn’t get off the couch, I don’t mean I was so tired or depressed that I couldn’t will myself off it, I mean I physically could not get off the couch. My lower back had been sore, so I’d lain down on my right side for half an hour to rest, and when I tried to sit upright my back screamed, “NO! YOU CANNOT DO THAT!!” in the form of intense, sharp pain.
I gave it a few minutes and tried again with similar results, which is when I started to wonder how long I would be stuck on the couch. I felt like I’d need to pee in an hour or two, and eventually I would get hungry and thirsty, and if my cat wasn’t fed that night I’m sure I’d hear about it with paw prints all over my face. So if I couldn’t get up within a few hours, I would have to call for help. My phone was on the side table at the opposite end of the couch, but I was fairly certain I could grab it with my toes if I was careful. But even if I could call someone, the door was locked, and I had no way of unlocking it from the couch, so I would have to call the apartment complex’s office and ask them to give someone a spare key. And which one of my friends would I call about this embarrassing situation, anyway?
It’s shocking how quickly I had become so helpless, and how that helplessness had turned my life into a puzzle I had to solve. I felt bad for every time I’d laughed at those Lifecall ads from the 80’s with an old lady who says, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Not being able to get up is really awful.
I was lying on my right side, so I grabbed onto the back of the couch with my left hand and tried to pull myself up using just my arm strength, but was greeted with the same sharp back pains. Next I grabbed some pillows and a comforter and stuffed them under my right side, which righted me enough that I was now halfway sitting up at a 45 degree angle to the couch.
This is when I decided I’ve have to force my way through the pain and sit up, no matter how excruciating it was. I am well acquainted with pain. I’ve had a headache for seven and a half years, and I survived a nine-hour gallbladder attack a decade ago. So, I knew I could handle the pain if necessary. However, this scenario was a bit different because I was the agent of the pain, causing it by moving, and when you’re doing something that hurts your first instinct is to stop doing that. I thought about martial artists who are able to break boards by swiftly and confidently hitting them with their hands, and OOOMPF! I was finally sitting up.
I rested for several minutes before moving the end table in front of me to use for support as I hauled myself off the couch, again with a swift and confident movement, and amazingly I was standing up! It only took me 30 minutes. I was then able to hobble to the medicine cabinet to take some ibuprofen and then iced my back once every hour for the next few hours. I’ve never in my life so desperately wished I could pee standing up, but thankfully I was able to relieve myself without getting stuck in the bathroom.
I’m feeling better today, but it definitely still hurts, so I don’t think I’ll be back to normal for another few days. Sadly, I think the reason I hurt my back is because I sit so much during the day doing my web design work. In the past two weeks I’ve made an effort to stand and walk more during the day to strengthen those muscles and I must have overdone it. I really should start doing Pilates again.
I injured my back once in my teens when I was helping my dad move a radial arm saw and another time in my twenties when I (swear to God) rolled over in bed. So this seems to be something that happens to me every 10 years. It’s also one more thing that makes me feel like my body is slowly breaking down and that my best years physically are behind me. Aging has made me a wiser and more confident person mentally, but when it comes to my body, getting older sucks.
oh I SHOUTED the last three words to myself at myself after 3 nights in a hotel bed in denver.
OHMYACHINGBACK then too.
I blame glider yoga though 🙂
You could call me! I would come over and bring you dinner! (Seriously, I hurt my back a couple years ago, and VIVIDLY remember the complicated gymnastics between sitting down and standing up, ugh.)
Jennette Fulda says
@Meg – I was debating whether to call you and Harold or if I should call the friend who cat-sits for me and already has a key but may or may not be in the UK right now. Good to know I can keep you on my personal Lifecall list 🙂
Ah the joys of getting older! I remember that a good night’s sleep could get rid of my aches and pains when I was a teenager and 20-something. Now I need plenty of ibuprofen and several days to recover from the same aches and pains. Luckily, I have a good massage therapist who works miracles on my achy shoulders.
Glad your back is starting to improve a bit. At least it’s going in the right direction.
This is why you need a trained monkey pet instead of a cat.
Jennette Fulda says
@Natalie – LOL, it did occur to me how useless a cat is during a back pain emergency when all he would do is crawl on top of me.
Sue B says
I have had a nasty back/knee/hip thing that went on for 6 months this year. It has finally cleared up. What helped. Actual Ibuprofen, NOT ALeeve. A new computer chair. Fewer computer hours. Chiropractor, yes it worked. And when my sacrum went out he was able to make that better really fast. Ditching the crocs for New Balance shoes (made in US version) seems to have made the long lasting corrective impact.
I feel for you. I have had several of those episodes since my 30s. The good news is that you will learn you to avoid them. I am 65 now and my back has not totally clenched in at least 10 yrs. Don’t get me wrong, I still get back pain and stiffness, but not the “OMG, I can’t move even to make myself more comfortable in bed, let alone get off the bed/couch/toilet seat.” Yep, toilet seat. Talk about embarrassing!
Back pain sucks. My husband is looking into buying a standing desk for his home office since he sits at the computer so much. We’re looking at an adjustable one that would allow him to stand some and sit some.
As a side note, I once won a trip to Chicago via a radio contest centered around that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial.
Hi! I found pasta queen about a month ago and have since followed you all the way through to now. Which makes me sound a little creepy, but I promise I’m not!
It sucks that your hurt your back, but I was more wondering about the fact that you said cat and not cats. Did I miss something? Do you still have Krupke and Java Bean?
Jennette Fulda says
@Amy – Hi Amy, thanks for dropping by. Officer Krupke stayed in Indianapolis with my mom when I moved to North Carolina with Java Bean. I never posted anything about it because the last time I posted about possibly breaking up my cats people said rude, judgmental things. Both kitties are doing very well, and Office Krupke is loved very much by my mom, as you can tell in her comment here: https://www.jennettefulda.com/2015/02/snowpocalypse-2015/#comment-4852
@Jennette Fulda – Oh, whew! So glad he’s ok! Seems like he’s being very well taken care of by your mom. I understand cat drama, sometimes cats just don’t want to be around other cats!