Help, I Can’t Get Up

By: Faith Pearce

(6 min read)

Recently, I have been living in a world called sciatica. Sciatica itself was unfamiliar to me. Once it happened, however, it reminded me of other injuries I have had. Why? Just like having an injury, I became immobile, and I hated it. I am all about getting out of your comfort zone but being in a ‘discomfort zone’ is a whole new game.

As with most injuries, you throw everything at them. You want a quick fix! I tried the chiropractor, massage, hot baths, stretching, and walking. I was like, yeah, I will cure this. And it did ease slightly, just enough for me to revert to my old activities which is one of my oldest tricks: think you are cured. Well, I was not. Old habits die hard they say.

I am a creature of habit. When I am active, I am consistent. When I am not active, I am consistently not active. I will take a period of time off and think I can get right back to where I left off. I suspect that is what put me in this situation.

I am very self-aware emotionally and spiritually, but I need to become more self-aware when it comes to my physical body. I am not sure if I intentionally ignore signs, or I just do not want to give myself credit for knowing what I need to do. They say, if we’re honest with ourselves, we always know what we really should be doing.

I’ve had three sciatic attacks in the last four days. Having a pinched nerve isn’t something you are constantly aware of. It isn’t like a broken leg where you are 100% aware you are wearing a cast and cannot walk. It is an injury lurking in the dark waiting to pounce on you when you least expect it. One time, I hurt myself by bending down too quickly or was it trying to get up too quickly-who knows which. Anyone who has had back pain or sciatica will relate. This type of pain is excruciating when it initially happens and just as painful when it’s aggravated. Sciatica also shows up in the simplest of daily activities. Why does it take an injury or catastrophe for us to have a wake-up call and change our habits?

Here is another one of my sciatic moments this week. I am sitting on the floor, legs akimbo, one hand holding my growling, elbow-gnawing cat. My other hand is occupied trying to trim up his hind end (no nice way to put that now is there) and within only seconds he’s had enough. I’ve also had enough. I decided to call it a day. “Shall we meet here again tomorrow?”

I adjusted myself with the intent of rolling over onto all fours and then to stand up. This maneuver was not new to me. I’ve done it hundreds of times. Performing this graceful, child-like roll suddenly became the most painful part of my day like having to trim a hairy butt wasn’t enough. As my body pretzel-twisted, and my buttocks muscle clenched tighter than it had ever done at the gym, I screamed every single curse word I’d ever known and some I had forgotten about. The cat who was already pissed off at the indignity of our trimming session, yowled and scurried away. I tried to take the pressure off my hip by repeatedly straightening and bending my leg. I kept praying and muttering to myself “baby steps” – slow down.

The next five minutes consisted of me performing a one-legged dance routine on my living room floor and swearing at the top of my lungs. Gradually the spasming stopped, and I regained some composure, reoriented myself to my surroundings, and stood up.

Injuries force us to slow down. Of course, that gives me something to hyper-focus on. I become hyper-focused of my movement, strength or lack thereof. I dial in on my pain levels and am super conscious of any potential aggravations. It’s in moments like these, I realize how much I need to listen to my overthinking mind. If you know you need to balance your wellness and improve your body awareness. Do it! It would be healthier if I became not only more physically active, but physically present.

I know myself well. I know how quickly I can get into a rhythm without being conscious of my physical movement. You know how we all have driven to places where we are so deep in thought we don’t even know how we arrived at our destination? Well, I can do that with my physical body. I can be so in my head; I am not aware of what my body is doing when it is moving whether it is working out or just moving throughout its normal course of life. Again, this is most likely because my brain is always on overdrive, and I can forget about checking in on my physical body until I am injured or sick. I’m so habitual and when things flow, I go with it.

I am like a toddler when it comes to checking in on my body. I stomp around wanting things to stay the same. My workouts tend to lack diversity, or I will gradually slack off thinking I can pick right back up where I left off. Faith, you have taken two weeks off! Those words don’t dance in my head.

I know the red flags I am ignoring my body, and I still tend to ignore them. Getting sick and injuries are big ones. I have been focusing over the last few months on self-care and personal check-ins. I am hoping to master a body scan routine to reduce my cycles of injury. I am not interested in future damage or writhing around in pain like a jackass on my living room floor again trying to chase my cat with the scissors.

As the universe continues to beotch slap me in the face by putting me out of commission, my little toddler inside must learn to step outside her comfort zone. I need to stop repeating the same pattern over and over. I do not want sciatica again. It just pops up whenever it wants to and keeps you pouting like a two-year old on the couch because you cannot do anything. I felt like I was in time out.

The only game being played here is the game of ignorance. I know what I need to do. Not everything needs to be boring or a fight or battle. I can find things that work and be more intentional with my exercise diversity instead of waiting until I am bored which is often too late. Change is healthy. Injury happens and should be a red flag to assess how to prevent it again in the future.

Some habits are harder to rewire than others…mine is exercise. Faith, come on, walking is not a death sentence.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t know what I need to do. It’s quite nice being in a place of ignorance. Not taking ownership is so much easier. But with me, I could never use that excuse, so I better do something about it.

I am continuing to become more aware. I am implementing body scans. Learning to slow down and be more present and intentional in my movements will be a bit of a challenge. I will take baby steps even if I think exercises such as stretching is a waste of time.

Not being able to get off the couch for three days was a true waste of time.

Faith Pearce 
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