Not for Thee
Daily Prompt: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that you wouldn’t give to anyone else? Why don’t you think it would apply to others?
I’ve had so much bad (under the guise of “good” advice) advice in my life — the worst stemming from chronic back pain issues, which frustrate the hell out of doctors. “You don’t need painkillers. Don’t stay in bed, walk!” they’ll say. That’s good advice, but it doesn’t do a thing for my back pain. In theory mobility is good for the back. In practice it takes a LOT more than that, including analyzing the person’s mental health. Back pain is caused by lots of medical conditions in the body including chemicals generated by stress. And pain and stress cause a feedback loop that is a sure-fire path to failure.
Easy, generic advice such as “You don’t need painkillers, just walk” shows the frustration that doctors have. They have no idea past sending patients through MRI’s how to treat this, so they give the standard advice and give patients a kick out the door saying “There’s nothing seriously wrong with you. Go outside and walk more and stop bothering me.”
I’ve had chronic back pain for many years now, and when it’s bad it keeps me in bed for most of the day with stomach pain, back pain, hot flashes and depression. Now I think I have a formula for keeping it away, but it’s been my own customized recipe, ignoring everything else people have told me. It’s taken a long time to think this through on my own and block out opinionated remarks from people. Here’s my formula. I do this every single day. It’s hard, dedicated work but at 59 years old, this has become serious quality-of-life business.
1. citalopram for depression
2. walking/jogging every day. That would be rigorous walking, rain or snow or shine.
3. yoga twice a day. Hard, Patricia Walden yoga that I’ve worked up to being able to do, not sissy yoga
4. formal sitting meditation 3 times a day
5. ativan for anxiety
6. of course medical marijuana, but the marijuana is a little useless without the ativan to take the edge off. Marijuana is a performance enhancer so it really helps soften my muscles for doing harder yoga, and helps my endurance when doing long walks or hard jogs. It also help with the pain induced by the foam roller when I roll it on my legs and glutes.
7. stretching and foam roller for my iliotibial bands and my back
So my advice to people would not be “You don’t have serious back pain, just walk and it’ll go away”. My advice would be “Look around your life at all of the contributors to your back: your stomach and what you put in it, the kinds of activity you do, your posture, your mental health, etc. Then keep going to physical therapists, shrinks, doctors, chiropractors, yoga teachers, etc. until you find the ones that help you target in on every single issue in the equation.” We don’t have the technology to figure out how to get rid of most back pain so you have be self motivated and trust that there’s a solution. For me it’s a huge quality of life issue. Living my life depressed in bed is no way to live.