…Back Again

I was looking forward to my Body Attack class for Tuesday evening, right up until Marayong on the train. I pick up my laptop backpack and have a telltale twinge in my back that I’ve come to respect as a sign to straighten up and pray it’s not too late to avert certain doom.

Although the evening takes a different course from the one I had planned, I don’t think anything more of it. Two episodes of House, M.D. – “It’s not Lupus”, and a failed attempt at doing some work (dev environment in some inconsistent state I couldn’t figure out right then), and feeling very weary by 9:30pm. I go to bed early.

I spend an hour doing that thing where you have audio playing that you think you’re actually listening intently to, staving off sleep… but then you startle awake and realise you’ve missed the first two questions-and-answers of the Writing Excuses podcast, and you just cannot bring yourself to fiddle with the controls to reset it to the start. I take it as a sign I should actually sleep and turn the audio off altogether.

At 3am, I know I am going to be in trouble. I wake up flat on my back, and my back has seized up completely. I have a 15 minute internal dialogue with myself about what to do next. I consider staying flat, but my back is feeling very uncomfortable. I consider rolling over but am dreading the feeling of using my shoulders to push myself around. I consider getting up to go to the toilet; damn, bladder full as well, just what I need.

No matter the circumstances, I almost never forget to think ahead.

I swing my legs over the side of the bed, and somehow manage to swivel myself into a sitting position with minimal use of my back or shoulders. First, I switch off the alarm on my phone, because I doubt I’ll wake up at 6:30am this morning, and even if I do, I know I’m not going to be nimble enough to dive for the alarm in a timely fashion when it eventually rings. Then, I go to the toilet and seriously consider whether I can sleep upright to limit the tension in my back. Clearly 3am is not a time for reasoned arguments.

For the remainder of the night, I alternate rolling onto my left and right sides with long stretches on my back. Each time waiting until the discomfort grows to a level where it overcomes my fear of the twinges that’ll run through my back when I go for a roll. Adding to that, putting my top arm in front or behind my body is immediately punished with stabs along my arm and shoulder blade, and it makes for an interesting night of careful balance in a half-sleep-state.

I don’t even consider going to work when I finally get up at about 7:15. I leave a message to my team-lead and start working out what I can do to speed my recovery up.

Luckily, it turns out the place I get my massages has a free slot at 10am still, so I book that in first, and then head to the doctors’ office down the road after a shower that takes me to their opening hours.

I bring my Kindle to try and read, but holding it up hurts my shoulder, and balancing it on my knee hurts my neck. I uncomfortably read half a chapter by holding it resting on the top of my knee with my neck slightly tilted and my eyes rolled down. I’m sure I look like a bad version of the Mona Lisa. It feels odd. It still feels uncomfortable.

Luckily the waiting room is practically empty. I try to look at the people in the waiting room with me, but my head doesn’t want to turn further than 45 degrees either side. I stare at the morning shows on the television. I stare through the inane dialogue.

I get a prescription for rest and some Panadeine Forte.

I head out to my massage and arrive 30 minutes early, so I read uncomfortably some more, after taking 2 tablets. Three-quarters through the chapter my head feels swimmy and it feels like reality is my imagination. Deep breath. I fail to read further and listen to a podcast instead.

Getting a massage with Codeine in my system proves an interesting experience. I can feel all the knots, but none of the pain. It is surreal, but far from unpleasant.

I feel relaxed and less sore right now, still a little detached, and absolutely determined to take carrying my backpack properly more seriously. It occurs to me that all those times I traveled to Melbourne and had back aches afterwards probably had little to do with the hotel beds, but everything with the fact I carry my luggage on my right shoulder only. It doesn’t feel heavy to my brain, but clearly my muscles privately have a different opinion. I’ll listen to them more from now on.

Day 284 – Last Chance to See

82 – 100 Places to Go Before They Disappear

I have been over-ambitious, but I don’t care.

I’ve had the past week off, and I have gone to a few extra gym classes during that time. I think I have totalled 8-9 for the week compared to my more usual 5-6. I was going to round it out with my usual double this morning.

My first class was trouble… the instructor wasn’t feeling well, and she was heading home thereby about to miss the second class I normally take with her. I think she decided the right way to compensate for this loss was to double the effort in the first class. And I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice as it happened.

It dawned on me that there was a problem when the treadmill between classes felt tougher than it usually does. Although I may not have had legs at that point. I cannot be sure.

I tried to get through the second class with the fill-in, but about halfway through I had no upper-body strength left, and my lower back was aching. It made me concerned over locking up my back again, so I did some extra stretches and quit early.

Now, that’d have been a fine amount of exercise to fill the day with.

But I wasn’t done yet.

By about noon I arrived at Wet’n’Wild. You see… this is the last weekend of the season. Last Chance to Slide. Although I worried it would be a bit cold, the weather was actually fairly cooperative even if the water was not.

I spent 4.5 hours having fun and freezing by turns.
But it was completely worth it.

I tried wading into the lagoon while I was waiting for friends to show, but I quickly gave up. The water was like ice on my legs. I did the thing where you take slow inching steps forward, but I didn’t make it to waist-depth before giving up, afraid.

The big redeeming factor in a water-slide is that you make the commitment to plunge into icy water long before you actually get there. It’s far enough removed that I could rationalise why it was going to be fine… and then once in the slide there is no turning back. An inevitable conclusion.

And the reason I kept going back for more… once you’re doused in icy water, standing in the free air that is a few degrees warmer than the water makes you feel that it’s really not that bad after all.

We managed to do a last run of almost all the slides. Definitely all the ones that were worth doing. Except for the what-do-you-mean-people-got-back-injuries-off-it-Bombora. With my lower-back pain I wasn’t game to tempt fate with that particular jarring drop. I made do with the Half-Pipe which is almost as big a drop, but a much smoother gradient.

I’ll miss the park for the next 4 months.
But I have my fingers crossed that my entry in their feedback-form suggesting they add a floating bar in the lagoon is worthy of a free membership for 2014-15. Because I’ll totally do it all again through summer.

Day 262 – Meander

I lost track of time.
I need to go sleep so I can get to my gym routine tomorrow morning.

I think it’ll be a much more pleasant experience, because today after work I saw a physio, and he did some great work on the shoulder. The proof will be in the waking up un-stiff, but I feel optimistic based on how well the shoulder has been feeling this evening. There was the most massive of knots right on my shoulder blade. He tried to get it with pressure alone, but besides being very painful, that didn’t help much. He used some kind of electronic device to loosen the muscle and that worked remarkably well. Like magic.

Most of this evening has been spent browsing the net though. Some research for the new QNAP; I want to set up a VM or two for Atlassian tools, and along the way I discovered Vagrant which sounds like a fun tool to explore. Then I got sucked in to my news-feed where it appears Microsoft is open-sourcing technologies left-right-and-centre… I’m not sure what has come over them, but they are having a brilliant shot at turning into the cool technology place to work.

I was planning to do some photography this weekend, but I may actually end up with my nose in the laptop.
Especially since everybody else will be doing their own things as well, so I might as well.

Maybe Sunday will be for being social.

Day 255 – Recovery and Countdown

At long last it seems that my back is starting to behave. My shoulder feels much better after 2 weeks of slow recovery. Just two weeks away from my next Melbourne trip…

… let’s hope this doesn’t happen again.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to very carefully try a class or two at the gym. My legs can take the brunt of it; it’ll make me feel less like a potato.

If that goes well, I might also at long last make it back to Wet’n’Wild on Sunday. By mid-April their season will end, and I’ll have to find another hobby to keep me occupied over winter.

Winter Is Coming!

And also, the inevitable count-down of my challenge. I’m kinda excited by the idea of starting the final-100 from April 8th onwards. One final marathon of attempted originality to take me to the finish line… and a new start into the unknown.

I should start planning a victory party, because this has definitely not been an easy challenge so far. I may have been a little cavalier in taking it on; but if I don’t stretch outside my comfort-zone I’ll never learn anything new. And I’m sure this is going to be useful discipline.

Day 250 – Shouldered Burdens

I’m glad the state I woke up in was not indicative of the remainder of the day to come. I’ve gone from extremely uncomfortable, to almost bearable. If I don’t move my neck too fast and sit nice and upright I could almost fool myself into believing everything is fine.

I will however be a good boy and take it easy a little while longer. I’m itching to get back to the gym, but if anything Saturday has shown how fragile this recover is so far.

Today I’ve kept to easy tasks. My main accomplishment for the day was to clear off my entire desk and re-organise my technology so that it all fits nicely. Now I just need to get rid of the QNAP TS-409 that has done faithful duty for 7+ years. Even though it was in no way failing, it was no longer living up to my needs and expectations.

The 870 PRO so far is doing a great job at impressing. I’ve installed the latest version of Plex on it, as well as on my laptop and my phone. And I’ve started ripping some of my media onto the drive to have a play with it. I’m impressed with how slick the integration and interfaces have become. Last time I considered Plex was 2-3 years ago, and I moved on to XBMC for the living room. It probably was the right choice at the time, but now… this is so much better.

I can’t go too far overboard with the ripping yet though, because I only have about 3TB of usable space in the 870 at the moment. I purposely only got the bare essentials space-wise so that I can wait out any price-drop in 4TB drives later this year when the 5TB models will finally arrive. Once that happens I should be able to load up the 870 and start filling 28TB of storage with all our media for instant-on access from all our devices. It amazes me a little how long it has taken for this particular future to arrive in a ready-to-go product.

I guess with all the tech-stuff out of the way, I can get back to making a dent in my reading; Ice and Fire has waited for my return for too long, and I have a Matthew O’Reilly waiting for me since Christmas. I am current with all my Podcasts at the moment, except for one Nerdist that I paused because they were going into Bioshock Infinity spoilers… which is the other area I need to re-invest some time in; I have a truckload of games waiting for my attention. I’m only halfway through Bioshock I. And that’s the only embarrassment I’m prepared to admit to right now.

Oh god, and software development.
I have long in-depth posts that have been rattling through my brain for too long.
And an intense itch in my fingers to make a dent in my Web Development projects.

My next break is over Easter.
I think I should plan to stay home and Do Things.

Day 249 – NOOOOOoooooo…

I had plans for today.

To be fair, I managed to get through some of them. I decided to fit in some extra reading time at Michel’s today, which went fine. And then I was going to put together the eBay listing for my PC and then move on to doing some study for a technical post. Instead I have been uncomfortable for the better part of today.

I had taken pictures of the PC. I had taken pictures of the external DVD burner. I had taken pictures of all the original boxes I’d kept for the components and parts.

Before boxing it all up, I wanted to make sure I had all the right cables in the boxes. Unfortunately the whippet was in front of the drawer that I needed access to. He was sleeping on his bean bag. So I moved it. Or did a good impression of moving it.

It had shifted about a foot and I felt heavy twangs up my shoulder-blades and upper-back. I knew this wasn’t good immediately. It set me back to when my back first went loopy around Mon/Tue this week. The range of motion in my neck is very limited, and making doing anything more than just sitting as upright as I can very uncomfortable.

I’d never realised how much I use those muscles doing the most ordinary of things before this week. I can move my arms fine without discomfort or pain. But rolling over on the bed is anguish if I don’t keep my back completely rigid. Getting up off the lounge is a simple motion… except it apparently involves quite a bit of motion of my neck… which makes me get up like an 80-yr-old right now.

I can decisively say I’m not enjoying this.

I’m going to keep my back heat-packed as much as I can, and I’m going to see about a physio appointment for a thorough look at the problem. I wish medical science had a quick fix for this.

Day 17 – Massage

I have to start by clarifying; the picture above is not where I had my massage. Regrettably. It’s just a good picture Google found for me to illustrate the high-point of my day. (Side-note: Google had one particularly horrifying suggestion as well)

Having said that, once I close my eyes it really doesn’t matter where the massage table actually is. In future I will imagine myself on the beach above; maybe I can even request some soothing surf-and-gull sound effects to go with it.

If Patient Looks Like This: Call Hospital
If Patient Looks Like This: Call Hospital

I made an appointment for today before work, because my back has been somewhat unhappy with me. I blame the fact that I have missed too many Pilates classes in the recent past. I can feel that my mobility is suffering from it.

And the knots!

I can half-convince myself that maybe I don’t need a massage until it starts. Every knot rolling under the fingers of the masseuse makes me jump a little as it slips and twitches in my back. The involuntary twitching is embarrassing, but I’m sure it’s quite common.

But then, as the session progresses and it happens less and less, it’s good to know that I will be all better.

Right after the session I felt extremely good; I felt taller for my drive into work. Now, at the end of my day, I feel the after effects of the massage itself. Where before there were knots, now there are aches. I console myself with the thought that tomorrow that will be gone too and I should be all happy-and-healthy.