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There were never any "good old days" — they are today, they are tomorrow
*beep* the Lexica you have dialed is not in service at this time, or, Yankee Urges Thwarted 
15th-Mar-2008 10:17 am
lots of NOs with one YES
I'm currently immobilized by a sciatica attack (an aftereffect of spending two weeks on crutches following my foot injury) and have spent the past week on the sofa. Since I got home from work on Friday the 7th, the only times I've left the apartment (or stood up for longer than five minutes, really) has been for acupuncture or other healthcare appointments.

It's been interesting to see how some of my family influences are manifesting around this. I'll wake up in the morning, look at the clock, and think, "Gee, it's getting late — I'd better get up!"

And then I'll think, "Why? The only thing on your schedule for the day is walk to the living room, lie down on the sofa, and stay there — so why get up? It's probably more comfortable here in bed with the heating pad, the cat, and the monkey."

Of course, since my doctor changed my medication on Thursday, the answer is "because you need to take your naproxen but then you can't lie down again for half an hour", so I get up. (The pills I was taking before may have come from a bottle labeled "Ibuprofen" and had the markings the bottle said they should have, but they might as well have been Pez, they had so little effect on the pain.)

It's also been interesting to pay attention to the pain. When I had sciatica several years ago (on the other side, related to a different, older injury), I hadn't been sitting zazen and the idea of paying mindful attention to the pain didn't really show up on my radar — I was much more in a place of trying to distract myself from the pain, or tough through it.

Toughing through it isn't an option this time around. For one thing, I find the most reliable clue to "I'm trying to tough through this" is "oh, I've been holding my breath while trying to tough through this and now I feel lightheaded and queasy — oog." For another, doing that is really incompatible with the kind of paying attention I've been trying to practice while sitting zazen.

I find that the pain rises and falls in intensity, and the higher the pain level, the fewer brain cells seem to be available for problem-solving and decision-making. Even decisions on the level of "what do I want from this Chinese restaurant menu" can seem overwhelming. (By the way, I can highly recommend the broccoli with vegi duck in garlic sauce at Long Life Vegi House in Berkeley. Really good stuff, especially for having been selected almost at random. *grin* spiritualmonkey even liked it better than his crispy vegi chicken in orange sauce.)

And trying to figure out whether and how to reroute my travel plans when it became clear that the bus I'd planned to catch wasn't on schedule — oy. I had to silently talk myself through the whole process: "Okay, you need to check for alternatives... yes, you do... okay... open the cell phone... good. Now... start the mobile browser... load the trip planner... wait, hit enter BEFORE you try to clear the text in that field... *sigh* okay... load the trip planner again..." And then the pain eased up a bit and I could almost feel the brain cells shifting from processing the pain to processing the problem at hand. "Yeah, that'll work. And if I miss that bus connection, I can transfer to BART. And if the bus I need at the other end isn't on time at the BART station, I can catch a taxi. No problem."

So it's off to acupoke again today. Luckily, I can manage it with very little walking — the buses work out quite conveniently. Might stop and pick up half a dozen ("buy 5, get 1 free!") banh mi from Ba Le on Franklin on my way home (Team LexiMonkey's favorite of the various Oakland banh mi shops we've tried). The monkey thinks he's coming down with a cold, so having some banh mi in the fridge will mean nobody has to make dinner. If you get the vegetables on the side, you can pop the whole bag in the fridge when you get home and they'll stay good for several days. To reheat one, spread the roll open a bit (so the edges and the filling are exposed) and heat in a 325°F oven for 4-5 minutes or so. Add your vegetables and you're good to go. Almost as tasty as freshly made.

Also gotta pick up another large bottle of Yin Chiao for the monkey. Certainly hope I don't need it myself. I can't afford to miss any more work. *sigh*
15th-Mar-2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
*blink* You can ask for the veggies on the side? I never even thought of asking. That's the worst part of reheating them: separating veggies, meat, and bread. Cool!
16th-Mar-2008 01:11 am (UTC)
I confess, I didn't think of it either — spiritualmonkey came home with a bag o' sandwiches one day that had a handy little zipper baggie of veggies tucked inside.

It's nice to be able to avoid the sogginess problem.
15th-Mar-2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
two things:
1, downstairs neighbor has car and is often home mornings and some weekends. Bonus: is willing to drive other people places sometimes, esp for things like groceries and doctors.

2.banh mi? What's that?
16th-Mar-2008 01:27 am (UTC)
Thank you — I'll keep that in mind. For the most part, I'm doing (surprisingly) okay. I think the bus isn't much worse than anything else that requires sitting up, which seems to increase the discomfort lots.

Banh mi are Vietnamese deli sandwiches. They start with a light, crusty roll, which is split and (usually? always? I'm not sure) heated in a toaster oven to make it that much crisper. Then they add the filling of your choice, which ranges from standards like grilled chicken, beef, or pork (or seasoned tofu for the vegetarians) to things that can be more... um... challenging for those of us who grew up eating the standard American diet, like "bacon" (more like fatty pork belly) or head cheese. The vegetable garnishes — sliced cucumber, shredded daikon and carrot, cilantro, and jalapeños (optional) — finish it off.

Really tasty, and cheap too — they usually don't cost more than $2.50, and several of the Vietnamese delis in downtown Oakland have permanent buy-5-get-1-free deals going.
16th-Mar-2008 04:06 am (UTC)
When having back problems I found that cars were so much easier. But they can be harder to getin and out of, but easier ride.

And I went and looked at the link and realized that I've had that. There's one of International that I like. Yum!
15th-Mar-2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
<comment mode="too easy">

I thought "acupoke" was spiritualmonkey's job!


16th-Mar-2008 01:29 am (UTC)
No, silly, it's Lexipoke that he's in charge of.

We don't pick the monkey for tasks requiring accuracy. ;-)
16th-Mar-2008 04:07 am (UTC)
Funny how ( or rather that) people know each other.
16th-Mar-2008 04:10 am (UTC)
Long Life has been one of my favorite restaurants for twenty years. :D

I spent a big part of my life with sciatica (it wasn't more than a couple of years, but it felt big) and couldn't even manage the sofa, I lay flat on the floor with my knees up quite a lot. I became a Jeopardy addict back then, and once I started PT, reached the point that I could hold a crunch through an entire episode of Jeopardy. I hope yours works itself out sooner
17th-Mar-2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
We don't have a TV, but this has given me a chance to catch up on some podcasts.
17th-Mar-2008 06:24 am (UTC)
Do you ever try alternating heat and ice? Heat often feels great, but can aggravate inflammatory conditions. Alternating, beginning and ending with cold, can do wonders. Among other things, it constricts and dilates vessels and helps pump excess fluid out of tissue. 5-7 minutes of cold, 10-15 of heat, 5-7 of cold. Repeat as much as you like, as long as you begin and end with cold.

If the cold is shocking, put the heat on your belly while you ice your butt.

Can't hurt. Might help. Helps me when sciatica looms.

You can also sometimes self-treat by lying on the floor with the painful side parallel to a wall. Bend the knee on the painful side (other leg is find bent or straight, as is most comfortable for you). Using no more than 10% of your strength, press the bent injured leg against the wall. Stay relaxed, breathe evenly, hold for 15 seconds, release. Repeat several times. This can help relieve spasms in the external rotators of the hip, which often exacerbate sciatica by strangling the nerve. "Taking up the slack" gently, relieves the muscle tissue of the burden of maintaining the spasm, so it can let go.

/unsolicited advice
17th-Mar-2008 07:33 pm (UTC)
Unsolicited but welcome — thanks. I think I'll give the alternating heat & ice thing a try. And my hip flexors had better get ready for some loving attention. :-)
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