Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Smile - Germany and my back story

Today I thought I would share this picture and my back story regarding the Germany trip we did.  We went to Germany about 3 or 4 years ago (I can't remember exactly what year we went).  About a week before we went to Germany I woke up one day with major back pain.  No idea what I did.  I went about my business as best I could.  The next day I looked up exercises to strengthen my lower back and started to do those, although I was in so much pain I could only walk for 5 min at a time (2 days before I woke up with the pain I had been running 5k on my lunch hour) and could barely do the different exercises that were suggested.   I wasn't going to let this stop me from going on the trip though.

So picture me, in an airplane for at least 10 hours, with back pain so bad it hurt non-stop when I was sitting.  I tried to walk up and down the aisles but couldn't straighten my left leg completely so I was limping and losing my balance with each step. hahaha!   I handle pain pretty well, but towards the end of the flight it was so bad I was laying with my head in my husbands lap almost crying.

So we get there and we walk around a bit, me limping (or as I say "gimping") along side my husband.  Now imagine us renting a car.  He rented a stick shift because it's cheaper and I can drive it.  Only problem, my back was so bad and pain radiated down the back of my left leg that it was so painful to push in the clutch.  It made for some very interesting driving.  Oh..and Husband can't drive a stick shift so we weren't able to have him drive.

Also, imagine me walking around barefoot on the hotel carpets and commenting how weird the carpet feels in Germany.  Until one night, I'm taking my socks off and realize it's not the carpet that feels funny, I have loss of feeling in my left foot. hahaha!  That was cause for a lot of laughing.   Of course, also try to picture me trying to put socks on or take them off when I couldn't bend over very far because my back hurt so bad, needless to say it was an adventure trying to tie my shoes too.

So..we get to the castle you see above.   There is an incredibly long and steep hill you have to either a)walk b)take a horse drawn carriage or c)ride a bus to get to the castle.  We didn't get tickets to go inside the castle because Husband had  been on a work trip the week  or two before we left and sat next to a guy from Germany on the plane.  The guy said the castle wasn't worth seeing on the inside because none of the furnishings were original to the castle and if you have seen other castles, it just wasn't worth it.  However, we did want to get to the top of the hill to see the castle.   Our first choice was the bus, but due to all the snow and ice on the road, the buses weren't running.  My second choice was the horse, but Husband dislikes the smell of horses.  That left walking.  And boy did we walk!  It became a game to catch people who were ahead of us and pass them and to also catch the horse carriages, which we did.  My reward for doing this with back pain?  Getting some good pictures at the top and also these doughnut/pastry things they called snowballs.  Oh yum.

At one point while riding the subway, we get off and are walking behind another couple and the girl is limping.  Husband turns to me and says "That's us!"  It was pretty funny.

The first leg of the trip was pretty hard for me with my leg and my heel (heel hurts if I'm on it for these trips are always hard on my feet anyway).  Towards the end of the trip I noticed that I was able to start straightening my leg completely and the pain was better.

The pain wasn't gone though and once we returned to the states I went to a dr.  I had a herniated disk.  Go figure!  The Dr. was incredibly surprised that I was walking around and working out as much as I was, even though it wasn't much.   He said mine was one of the worst he has ever seen (and yes this was a specialist).  He asked if I was doing anything for it and I explained how I was trying to walk and doing some exercises and he just shook his head.  He said that's exactly what people need to do but because it's so painful they rarely do.  I was proof that it worked.

So here we are 3 - 4 years later.  Back still gives me trouble, I can't sit on an airplane without it hurting.  Most days I'm pain free at this point, but it took a long time to get this far.   It was 2 years before I could actually run again.  Then, of course, I start running again last Spring, and in August I hurt my foot, heel fracture.  So now..I'm back to running and fingers crossed nothing else happens.

Why did I share this?  I can't think about Germany without thinking about my back.  It's funny that I'm now on orders not to live anything over 40lbs (or something like that) because I can make it worse (my herniated disk is still there..but due to exercising and strength training I'm able to keep my back strengthened and it helps with pain but I did lift dog food bags sometimes and regret it for days afterwards).  Yet, before I realized this I was lifting my suitcase up/down stairs, on to beds, etc.  haha!  And the different things such as thinking German carpet was weird but finding out it's because I didn't have feeling in my foot.  I still shake my head and laugh at some of the things about that trip and my back.

Don't worry..I have a sever allergic reaction story about Paris. I bet you can't wait for another Friday where I tell you about that.


bermudaonion said...

Holy cow! My brother-in-law has a herniated disk, so I know it's really painful. I can't believe you traveled like that.

Anna said...

The carpet story is funny, but oh, your poor back! You've made me curious about Paris...

Diary of an Eccentric

Kris said...

Bermudaonion - looking back we are surprised I did as much as I did too..we didn't realize it was a major injury and in a way that was good but also bad. haha! I could have really made it worse.

Anna - The carpet store still makes me chuckle. lol! Paris is a funny story. Here's a hint...I have really really bad allergies.

Literary Feline said...

Having experienced serious back pain this past year--and into this year, my hat is off to you for playing tourist while in that much pain. I can't wait to hear your Paris story.

It never fails that when my husband and I travel, something goes wrong with one of us. LOL

Beth F said...

Oh my gosh -- I can't believe you survived! Wow. But it's a good story about the importance of exercise. Love the photo!

Kris said...

Literary Feline - it sucks doesn't it? Sometimes there's just no way to ease the pain. I used to lay on my stomach to sleep and it took me till last year to start doing that again, and even now there are days when I can't because it will hurt.

Beth - exercise is definitely what keeps me pain free (for the most part). I have a lot of relatives with back pain and none of them exercise and complain about the pain all the time. I admit that I'm not good about doing strength training now that I don't have a gym handy, but I bought free weights and have an exercise ball and I'm hoping to get back in the habit.