Monday, September 14, 2009

God's Practical Joke (well....1 of them anyways)

I think God has played a practical joke on His favorite creation. Specifically, to remind us that we are just human beings who don't age all that well and that we are in fact, not Him. That joke is in our lower back. Specifically the "SI joint".

A week ago Thursday, we were doing our warm-up routine at TKD. This specific exercise was after our stretching/pushups/pullups. We would run in place. Whenever our instructor yelled, we were to touch the ground and then jump in the air. I had done it at least a dozen times in the 30 seconds or so had been doing the exercise. Right near the end, I bent over and felt the flash of pain across my back. That flash of pain that makes you stand up straight as you wonder who stabbed you with a cattle prod. I know you've felt it and you must know exactly what I'm talking about. Every time I've repeated this story this week to anyone over the age of 25, I've gotten that "knowing nod" along with the accompanying story about how they were doing just the smallest thing when it happened to them.

I kept the rest of the workout easy on myself constantly stretching out that lower back muscle. In hindsight, I probably should have just stopped then and there. After TKD, I went out to do my Avalanche season ticket exchange. By the time I got home at about midnight, I was in agony. I went to bed and the next morning I was walking around like my wife's mom does after she's "sat a spell". I literally could not get myself straightened out. I looked at myself in the mirror and my right hip was about an inch higher than my left. I've had lower back issues before but this was one was just sheer agony. Never this bad. I decided I better go to the doctor just in case I really did damage something.

You know you're getting old when you hobble in, fill out the forms at the front desk and the lady behind the counter asks if you need a wheelchair. Politely refusing in an effort to deny my age, I eventually made my way back to "the room" and waited patiently for the doc to arrive. When he shows, he has me try to do a few things to rule out specific nerve damage, has me bend over a little bit while he's pressing on my back, and then informs me I have a "locked SI joint". Having never heard the term before and assuming this has nothing to do with an enthusiastic interest in the February Sports Illustrated Issue, the blank look on my face had the doc explaining to me exactly what that meant. Basically, the injury hurt my muscles which in turn cause them to contract which in turn cause the joint to get further out of kilter which in turn cause the muscles to inflame more which continues the cycle over and over.

The doc game a combination of anti-inflammatory (prednisone), muscle relaxer, and painkiller. He also gave me a specific set of stretching exercises to do every hour. My big concern is that we were only 1 week before testing and would I be better by then. He couldn't give me a direct answer but did tell me go at "1/2", meaning 1/2 the effort and 1/2 the frequency. If that didn't work, "1/2 it again". I ended up taking the whole week off of TKD and spending all of Labor Day weekend doing minimal amount of movement as I could. Not to mention the drugs doing a number on my concentration abilities where I had to focus to accomplish some of the most trivial tasks.

I did make it to testing today though. Before we went, I stretched out as much as I could doing every known exercise I could think of that would stretch those muscles in my lower back. I still had pain but now more of a dull ache then anything real. I also went through all the curriculum at home to make sure I could do it all. The worst part were the sit-ups. I mentally told myself during the test to just take it easy during that part and not try to be "manly" and do as many as I could.

It all went well. Both my daughter and I aced the test. We're now Red Senior belts (2nd Gup) with only 1 quarter to go until we get into the Red Executive program. This is the last quarter of "easy stuff" before we get into the big push for Black Belt. It's been about 2 and 1/2 years and I'm really looking forward to finishing this part up.


Bil said...

Feh! Has nothing to do with age! Kids get hurt like that all the time too!

Niksephton said...

I've got a locked si joint and I haven't trained in taekwondo for a few months due to the pain and restriction in movement. How did things work out for you in the end?

shaggydoug said...

Been a while since this event. I haven't had an issue with it since that time. I see a chiropractor on a regular basis and I make sure I don't do those jump in the air exercises without having my back straight up and down.

My posture has improved quite a bit too thanks to Taekwondo and sitting on one of those exercise balls on a regular basis. I'm sure that's helped quite a bit.