Back In The Saddle

Well…..s’been a while, eh?

So the sciatica thing sucked real hard, and it’s still not entirely over.  Parts of my foot and ankle are still surface-numb, I still haven’t got full strength and balance back in my leg, and if I overdo it, I certainly know about it.  I’ve been trying to be very mindful of what’s happening in my body, without being fearful… so that I don’t push myself too hard, or wimp out too early.

As detailed in the previous post, the downhill path started in July, and honestly, it wasn’t until about mid November that I started to feel like I had some control again.  It was a long, frustrating time, and I found myself stripped of my greatest tool for handling angsty feelings: running.  I hadn’t even realized until I wasn’t able to, that I had been using my runs as a way to blow off steam/frustration/fight-or-flight/anxiety/etc.  Not being able to do it also sucked real hard.

But, I’m running again, which is great.  Not long, and not fast, but enough that I get the good-feels that I want to get out of it, and I feel like I’m making progress.  Still haven’t cracked 5km, which is disappointing, as I was up to 10km a year ago – but I’ll get there.

I feel like I have a bit of a road ahead now, not just to continue rehabilitating my hip, but also my internal equilibrium, as all of this has created a prolonged feeling of being lowdown and sluggish.  I need to jumpstart my engine!

Admittedly, I’ve been starting slow and being careful, but it’s time to start re-training myself.  Been going out for more runs, stretching, setting time aside to sit quietly, eating less junk, drinking less booze, making myself get up at a decent time despite being off work, no mid-day naps, taking vitamins, drinking lots of water, and all that good stuff.  Once my habits are back on track, I will look at weight training again.

And, it does suck a bit to run in the winter, but I think I can hack it.  By springtime, I hope to be up to 10k again, and might sign myself up for the Sun Run or something.

Sciatica

Well.  This is no fun.

So that hip thing?  It escalated.

In July, I overdid it and my body complained.  My hips have always been tight, and for a belly dancer, I have shockingly limited mobility.  In mid July, I was working on an art project that required me to be seated on the floor to work, and I worked on it, multiple days in a row.  My hips complained, and I didn’t listen, because I was hell-bent on finishing the project.

The rest of July, all of August, and into September, I was still trying to recover from screwing myself up.  Despite being in varying amounts of discomfort, I managed to keep all my commitments at Burning Man, including approx 24 hours Rangering (including a 6-hour bike shift), 3 hours at Arctica, something like 6+ hours for Conclave rehearsal & performance, at least two nights of exploration & dancing, plus camp set up, tear down, approx 4 days sitting in the car for travel each way.  Yeah… that’s a LOT of activity for a person with a buggered hip.

When I got home from the desert, I was in pretty rough shape, as the last big of road trip was a real killer for my hip.  I stacked a few massage & chiro appointments, to try to get it under control, and was diligent in stretching multiple times a day to manage pain and mobility.

On Sunday the 15th, while I was stretching, my right glute went into spasm.  I popped some muscle relaxants and tried to rest as best I could until morning.  I saw Jeff the next day, and he was able to provide some relief.  I could at least rest somewhat comfortably, but I was unable to put pressure on that glute without pain, which limited my ability to stretch it.  It felt like there was a spiky ball in the core of my right buttock, with a too-tight elastic band stretched over it.  (An elastic band full of nerves, mind you.)  In addition, my right hamstring and other neighbouring muscles had this constant pre-cramp feeling… like that feeling you get right before a charley horse.  After three days when it didn’t improve, I began to wonder if I’d really done something terrible to it, so I scheduled an appointment with my GP on Thursday the 19th & asked for a referral to someone Jeff suggested, and got a prescription for naproxen.

By Saturday the 21st, I was going stir crazy.  I’d been largely housebound and horizontal for over a week and needed some air.  Frank suggested that instead of getting groceries for me, that he take me to Safeway, and let me shuffle around gently, while he went to pick up our friend Terri.  Great.  Let’s do that.

I shuffled around gently, not once considering that carrying a basket might not be a good idea.  As I was shopping, I could feel my right glute and hamstring getting tighter and tighter.  Ok, gotta go soon.  Tighter, and painful.  Ok hurry!  TIGHTER.
And then the three smallest toes on my right foot went numb.  And then my ankle.

And then FIRE!  ELECTRICITY!  Agonizing pain flooded down my leg from my right glute.

I could barely get myself out of the store.  I limped outside, waiting for Frank, whimpering, trying to breathe, and trying not to scream.  When Frank & Terri pulled up, all I could say was “please take me to the hospital”, and suffer while they tried to belt my twisted body into my seat.  I’ve been through a lot of pain in my life, and honestly – this was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I broke into a cold sweat immediately and could barely speak recognizable words.

The folks at the hospital were amazing.  They must have an eye for who is faking and who is for real, because I was seen immediately and they smacked my pain down hard and fast.  They checked me out, called it sciatic pain, established that it probably wasn’t a disc issue, based on where my pain was originating, sent me home with some pain killers, told me not to lift anything, that moving around gently was better than 24/7 bedrest, and recommended that I see my GP the following week, after the pain subsided, and get a referral for physio.

The pain killers they gave me in the hospital were heavy, so I slept very well that night… best sleep I’d had in over a week.  When I woke up the next day, the spikey ball of pain in my glute was gone, but everything felt cramped, and had a lot of pain in my sacrum/SI joints.  The numbness that had come on the night before was still there.

So, here we are on Thursday the 26th, 5 days after the episode.
Parts of my foot & lower leg are still numb, everything still feels cramped, sacrum/SI joints are still painful, but, the pain is somewhat tolerable. I’m off the muscle relaxants & don’t feel I need the breakthrough painkillers that the hospital sent me home with, so am just doing 400 ibuprofen & 500 acetaminophen every 6 hours.

I tend to shift a lot… nothing is comfy for very long. I can stand or sit for about 10 minutes at a time, so I switch between those often. Lying down with some supporting pillows is very good, and is more sustainable than sitting.  Heat sometimes helps.  I have almost no forward flexibility in my right leg, and only marginally more with my left, and certainly can’t bend enough to touch my feet.  I shuffle around the house with small steps, grunting with any movement that causes pain, which is most movement.

It’s incredibly frustrating to be dependent on Frank for every little thing.  I need help to put socks on, or to get in & out of the bath.  I can’t bend to pick up a laundry basket off the floor, or load/unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher.  I feed the cat by leaning over as much as I can, supporting myself on the wall, and then dumping her scoop of food into her dish from about 2 feet up and try to ignore the bits of kibble that don’t make it into the bowl.

This is certainly a lesson in asking for, and receiving help… two things that I really, really suck at.

I’m seeing a friend that does acupuncture tomorrow… lots of friends who’ve had sciatica tell me that acupuncture helped them, so I’m going to give it a shot.  I’ll see my GP on Friday for the physio referral.

Wish me luck.

Portal at Burn In The Forest

A little late with my final post, but well worth it, what with awesome pics from Frank!

I would like to express some major gratitude to Merry, Angie, and Terri for their assistance with the fiddly painting of the tile pattern…without their help, I would have been spent my entire weekend painting, and missed the event!

Props are also in order to Frank, Ken for wrangling the lights, to Kay for the magic battery that got it lit up when our power plan failed, and to Ashes for letting us steal some juice from the Empress.

And many thanks to all the folks who came by to visit, and cross the threshold!

portal3

portal

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Struggling

It’s time to admit that I’m struggling.

I’m overwhelmed by my life.  I’ve previously admitted to Must Sickness (must do this, must do that), but beyond my own self-imposed musts, there is a lot of real musts on my plate. Musts that seriously affect me & Frank personally/financially, and musts that I volunteered for, but are real commitments and can’t be blown off.

Added on top of this is my hip.  My right hip is in rough shape, and I’m so angry about it that I wanted to say it’s being a bitch, but that’s not fair.  It’s my own fault… it’s a result of pushing myself too hard and not listening to my body’s signals.  But here I am, with my right hip so buggered that I am practically never comfortable unless I’m flat on my back, bending/squatting, standing/walking for longer than 15 minutes is painful, and I can’t easily reach either of my feet (which is hugely frustrating in the summer when my feet are constantly grubby).

Yes, I have fabulous bodyworkers who are helping me get back to normal, and I’m doing all my stretches, but it’s expensive and is taking longer than I have patience for.  This constant low-grade discomfort, peppered with pain and impediment is driving me crazy.

These two things – the overwhelm and the hip – makes perfect conditions for anxiety and depression.

I haven’t been able to do any activity that would take me closer to my Get Ripped mountain.  No running, walking, or dancing on a buggered hip, and the negative impact of overwhelm on my time and my emotional state makes it very friggen difficult to make good food choices.  Not that it’s an excuse, but when standing at the counter to chop vegetables is painful, I find myself reaching instead for the pre-made, the easy, and the fast.

So, I’m struggling all over.

Portal Build Day 4

With all the marking done, I was able to start the “paint by numbers” stage yesterday.

I had intended to pull an all-nighter & finish it, but I was exhausted after fire practice and crashed out pretty hard.

Here are a a pic from yesterday’s work.  I have a detail of the tile painting, but my uploader is being a jerk.  You’ll see more later in the Day 5 post, forthcoming.

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Day 4

Today’s only a partial fail.

Food-wise, it’s been lame again, due to 100% focus on the art project, but this evening I’m heading out to fire rehearsal, which is always a good workout.

Day 3

Bah, today was a bit of a fail.

I’ve been tunnel-visioned on an art project and I barely came up for air all day.
No exercise, and eating whatever was easy/fast in the fridge, or handed to me by Frank.
I’ll need a serious stretch though… art project had me sitting on the floor most of the day, which killed my hips & lower back.

Portal Build Day 3

Did I mention that this thing is double-sided?

Right.  So that means my fancy pants tile pattern appears on 4 panels.  The very old-school stencil transfer method took about 90 minutes per panel, adding up to about 6 hours to complete the pattern outline.  Of course, it’s excruciating to sit on the floor for that long, so I had to break up the time.  That’s pretty much all I did today.  It’ll be worth it though, once the colour gets added.  I think it’s going to be spectacular.  Crazy, but spectacular.

I also spent about an hour or so, marking the stripes around the curve.  I probably should have marked it while it was still possible to lay it flat, to make my life easier.  However, I found myself with a problem to solve: how to mark the radial lines while having a gaping hole at the centre of the circle?

Sure, I could have projected an image, but I’m old school, as can be seen by my pin-hole chalk transfer method.  So I got some string, ran it from the horizontal lip on either side of the door, and attached a vertical string from the centre top.  I tied another, long string to the vertical piece, and positioned it so that it was approximately the centre of the circle.  With a ruler, I marked approximately 6″ intervals along the outside of the white edge I’d painted around the opening, and asked Frank for a hand.  I had him hold the knot as steady as he could, while I worked my way around the circle, running the string from the knot, to my pencil marks, until I had done both sides.

Not exact, but it worked well enough, and now all the pencil marking for the Portal is complete.

Next step: Painting!

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Portal Build Day 2

Frank was a rockstar today, and started building the supports that will keep this baby upright.  We also grabbed all our old leftover housepaint from storage, and established that a lot of the painting of the Portal can be covered by that supply.

I decided at about 10pm last night that I’d hop myself up on coffee and do as much work on the Portal as possible.  Of course, my plan was rather ambitious, and I’m nowhere near done.  There’s still hours and hours to go, for just laying out the pattern, nevermind doing the painting.  Still pretty certain I can do it, but I would welcome volunteers!

Here’s some progress shots, and the method for applying the pattern.

I printed out the pattern and used a pin to punch tiny holes all along the black lines.  Not enough to punch any of the pieces out, but enough to function as a dust stencil.

Then I pinned the paper pattern onto the surface, and used a piece of conté crayon (I couldn’t find my charcoal) to scribble over the paper and cause conté dust to transfer through the holes.

Removing the paper revealed a delicate dust outline of the pattern on the surface, which I went over with a pencil.  The conté can smear and rub off easily, so the pencil is more reliable, but still editable.
portal1

When the entire pattern is marked out, painting (by numbers!) can begin.  After the colours are applied, the pattern outline will be blacked in with a thick sharpie marker.
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And, here’s a colour code for painting by numbers.
colour code

If you’re feeling inspired and would like to help out, here are the next steps:
-make a couple more stencils with the pin poke method (they wear out)
-continue transferring & outlining the pattern onto the surface
-add the colour, according to the colour code

Day 2

Ok, full disclosure:

My fancy pants scale says I’m 196 lbs, and 35% body fat.

Although, admittedly – I don’t much care.  I know muscle is heavier than fat, and I intend to build a lot more muscle than I have now – so I’m not bothered by pounds.  The body fat % bugs me a bit, but it pleases me to see that it’s down from a previous test shortly after the miscarriage, which showed me at 40%.  I’d like to see it down around the 25-30% range to start.

Breakfast this morning was Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola, three spoons of vanilla yogurt, and a handful of fresh blueberries.  And a cup of honey-lemon-ginseng tea.

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Lunch was toast, hummus, cheese, cucumber, a couple of olives and a cup of tea.
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I scarfed a some potato salad, deli turkey, and a couple of pickles before a meeting this evening, to tide me over until a very late dinner: bbq steak & zucchini medallions, 1/2 portions each of rice & corn.

And now staying up too late, drinking coffee, and working on the Portal of Rebirth.