Tuesday, May 10, 2016


So in spite of taking Valium to get to sleep last night, I woke up at 3 am and have been awake since then. Given the - let's say - unpleasant environment at work, you'd think I would have been up going round and round conversations I had had or worries about what was to come, but it wasn't like that at all. I felt really awake (and still do) - in fact, had the family not been at home I would have gone downstairs to do some nocturnal deejaying. Instead, I watched a film and tried a bit of meditating (which just woke me up even more) and even some yoga for goodness sake. In a way I enjoyed it and knew that I was somehow resting, even if I wasn't sleeping.

I don't know where this energy is coming from. It could be the steroids or it could be the release from annoying but fairly constant pain / discomfort. Another explanation is something I have experienced one or two times in my life when I am faced with a point of inflection in my life: a change of girlfriend, a change of country or a change of job. I don't think I will be doing any of these things but I believe that my organism goes into a kind of hyper-alert "survival mode". In the past I have had up to months of needing very little sleep, feeling very energized and alert, but also aware I am living on borrowed time. It could also be the Mindfulness that I am doing that is somehow waking me up. I've certainly noticed it bleeding over into daily situations like driving, waiting in doctor's to be attended, meetings, etc. It's too early to tell, but just two weeks in to the 8 week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course my wife got me for me birthday it really seems to be starting to have a positive effect.

The drugs are definitely helping too, and my symptoms have all but disappeared, which means that I can do my rehabilitation exercises that much more effectively and hopefully put this thing back in its box. I suspect I will have to "manage" it, just like I have to manage my Morton's Neuromas - something to be aware of, a warning to be heeded but not necessarily a stopper. My physio pointed out something interesting to me. I have two protruding discs - one between C5 & C6 and one between C6 & C7. The point is that the one between C5 & C6 is on the right hand side and yet I have no symptoms on that side of my body. It is quite possible I have been living symptom-free with these underlying problems for years without realizing it. This paints a much more optimistic picture. It may be that the "crisis" I had which lead to my back and neck locking up concentrated the pressure from the protruding disc on a small area of a nerve, leading to its inflammation and the subsequent numbness and referred pain in my left arm. This would be consistent with the order of events, because I only noticed this once the other problems had gone away and, in spite of not running, before I started medicating it just got worse and worse.

I've continued to make an effort to improve my posture and people have commented that I look taller and sit straighter. In fact I have more or less stopped using my Lumo Lift as I feel that awareness of my posture (and the typical causes for breaking it) has been internalized now (here Mindfulness helps with the awareness too). So I'll probably lend it to my wife for a bit, as she could do with minding her posture a bit more. My Shoulders Back brace did arrive after all (albeit with an unexpected customs bill of about 30 €...) and I really notice that it helps me stand up straighter and taller. It's comfortable to wear during the day under a shirt (and I have found a way of taking it off and putting it on discreetly when I get changed in the gym) but I think that I would have to wear it on the outside of a t-shirt if I were to run with it, because otherwise it would cause too much chaffing. I expect that it will help strengthen some of the muscles that are indirectly implicated in a more upright posture - such as the internal neck muscles I have been exercising recently - but others, like those that help stabilize my scapulas, are probably having too much of an easy time of it and need to be strengthened separately. I'll see what my physio has to say on the matter. Lastly, I bought yet another gadget to help me on the road to recovery: a goose-neck support for my Kindle, so that I can watch movies and series while on the elliptic, without having to crane my neck. I hope that all these measures (plus the new chair I mentioned last time) will help me be in better shape for when I come off the meds and - hopefully - gradually re-introduce myself to running and cycling.

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