Why I (sort of) Gave Up Yoga
I've been working through this post in my head for a while, and while difficult, I'm finally writing it. Due to a back injury, I gave up yoga. No extensions, no back bends, no warrior or planks. Nothing at all. Let's go back to July, shall we?
I had finally done it, a perfect month. No gaps, no missed days, and I was so excited looking at that little calendar. However, there was something very wrong that I was ignoring. On July 3rd, while doing forearm scorpion, I lost my balance and fell. The next morning, something was no quite right in my back, and I had a bit if trouble walking, but as I woke up and the muscles warmed up, it seemed fine. Despite the fall, I had pushed through, and kept doing yoga everyday, just doing slower routines, things that were gentle on my back. #yogaeveryday am I right?
Now to August ...
Not as great, as you can see. That first missed weekend I took a road trip to Ottawa, and after that, my back was just awful. Throughout July, it had had good days, and bad days, but now I was essentially in chronic pain. I made it through yoga on the 20th, but my back felt worse the next morning than when I initially hurt it. So I let it rest. I kept trying, and doing even softer routines on my own outside the program, to try to stretch it and keep it moving, but nothing was making it better, and yoga would just put the whole thing into a tail spin.
That brings us to September ..
I was now reaching a point where a walk longer than fifteen minutes was causing me dehabilitating pain. On September 12th, I did a head stand for the first time in almost a month, and the last time until who knows when. On the 18th, one day after doing yet another slow and soft routine, I had hit my breaking point. I finally went to the doctor.
I was sent to an RMT and physio therapy right away, and managed to get both appointments on the same night later that week. When my physio therapist did my range of motion test, that's when it really started to sink in the damage that had happened, and as she explained to me, both best case and worst case scenarios, I was facing that I may have potentially given myself an injury I wasn't going to recover from. Best case, which she felt was highly unlikely because of my misalignment and severely limited range of motion, was a muscular injury. Worst case, I might be dealing with a minor fracture, especially since when she started digging, she found a lumbar vertabrae in the wrong place. She ordered x-rays, and booked me with the orthopedic surgeon who does night clinics at their office.
I did the x-rays immediately, but she requested I treat it like a slipped disc, which basically meant being immobile for the week. The orthopedic surgeon had to cancel, delaying his opinion for another week, but the physio had the report. Absolutely nothing remarkable in the x-ray. I had experienced some weird pains two days after physio, so she decided to forgo the elecrodes in my second session, but she didn't want to start a plan or formulate anything until the ortho looked at the images, in case he saw something that was missed, or he felt like I need ultrasounds or MRIs.
I have had some incredibly awful and interesting health things happen over the years, and I have never dread an appointment like my orthopedic surgery appointment. I had spent all week imagining what my life was going to be like, what would I do if surgery was recommended, could I live with the chronic pain, what risks was I will to take, could I manage the injury and stay active and healthy? Before I even walked in the door, my brain was telling me that I was broken, and it was over.
On October 3rd, I met with the orthopedic surgeon, and got some of the best news of my entire life. From what he could tell from the x-ray, and my range of motion at the time, my injury was completely muscular, which was the best case scenario. He was concerned that the injury happened out of a possible weak spot in my back caused from a previous injury, and wanted me to keep off all activity for another two weeks with weekly physio, to keep monitoring my alignment. That day, my physio assigned me a couple incredibly light things to start working on, and with a new outlook on things, I really felt like my healing could begin.
The next two weeks were a dream. Two weeks in a row, my alignment was always a little better, my back finally melting and not in constant pain, and between physio and the exercises I had, I wasn't feeling so sedentary. I was counting down to October 18th, knowing that there was almost no reason to not get green lite for activity again. That is until I got into a fender bender on my way to my appointment. My physio was delayed, and she as hesitant to give me a green light to do activity, worried that the accident, no matter how minor, might effect my progress, as my alignment was wound completely up again like my first session.
Again, I was discouraged, upset and frustrated. I ate almost an entire bag of spooky cheesies in protest of what was happening, and surprise, it didn't do anything (but make me incredibly happy, because the spooky bones were kind of fun to play with). I had snuck in yoga session after the accident, but before physio, and I was panicked that it was what had caused the misalignment. I was lucky to have the encouragement of a friend during the week, who humoured me during his own workouts, letting me correct his form and boss him around.
Last night was my second appointment post-fender bender. I was nervous. The muscle in my back was still feeling some residual fatigue, and I was really feeling like my alignment wasn't where it should be. I was incredibly nervous to go, and for what the physio was going to say. Let me tell you friends, it was like something out of a miracle. My alignment was near perfect. She figures I felt off all week, because I'm not used to my hips and leg being aligned properly. The fatigue is normal, I need to just keep taking ibuprofen, and being gentle. I've been assigned some 'homework' some more exercises that I get to do EVERY DAY. Provided the exercises are helping, and I can progress gently, she figures I'll be ready for discharge in two weeks. I was surprised I didn't cry.
The moral of the story here friends, is take care of yourself. I was injured in July, and if I hadn't been so stubborn, the injury would have been but a memory by September. A huge part of wellness is knowing when you need to take a break, especially if it's to heal. Always attend physio if your doctor recommends it, even if the injury seems small or inconsequential. Until we perfect bionics, the body you have is the only one you get, and we need to care for it the best we can.
And just in case you're curious, yes, the first thing I did when I got home, was stood on my head.