Friday, May 22, 2020

My Aching Back

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
As many of you may have noticed, I didn't post last week. The reason for that is the title of this post: I was in such pain that I couldn't think straight, and that pain lasted basically the entire weekend.

(Yes, insert joke about how a prepper really should have a backlog of posts ready to go for moments like this. I completely agree. The problem is finding the time to create such a backlog in the first place.)

According to the doctors, I have osteoarthritis in my lumbar region. I've had this for a while now; I can recall back as early as 2013 that my lower back would stiffen and almost lock up when I would be washing dishes at the sink, or when vacuuming the house. I chalked this up to getting older, gaining weight, and not being in the best shape I could be in. The problem is that it's gotten worse over the years, and now it's to the point where if I walk more than a hundred yards I can feel it stiffening up. Once I reach that point, I need to sit down and rest for a few minutes so that my back can relax. If I don't, the pain gets worse and worse until not only is my back screaming at me but it is also physically painful to lift my legs enough to walk. After walking the dogs last Friday I had to crawl to my chair from the front door.

As you can imagine, this condition puts rather a large dent in my prepping plans. The way it stands right now, if I have to walk any distance at all I'm likely to be screwed; if I have to walk (or run!) a significant distance to reach safety I have to hope that the adrenaline rush will carry me, and in any "long walk home" scenario my need to rest will slow me down and extend the time it takes to get there.

What's more, my back pain is also aggravated by having to lift heavy things. My Get Home Bag is still pretty heavy, so lifting the bag plus walking with it on my back it is currently a recipe for disaster. This is the main force driving me to lighten my GHB.

At this point there really isn't anything that can be done to fix my pain; we can only treat the symptoms. I was prescribed a topical gel to help reduce pain and inflammation, and was told to lose weight and do yoga for flexibility. I am... skeptical... about yoga, but that's been on hold and will continue to be on hold until this COVID-19 mess goes away. Losing weight is a goal of mine, and it's something that I've been working on for a while now, but I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to resisting evening snacks.

Here's how all of this relates to prepping:
  • Take care of your body. You only get one and it's with you your entire life. 
  • If you have chronic or persistent pain in your back after doing X activity, see a doctor about it immediately. You want to get started treating it sooner rather than later. 
  • If you're overweight, work to lose it. I'm not about to fat-shame anyone; I'm just stating the obvious that "The less weight your body is carrying, the less strain on it and the easier your life will be." 
  • Maintain mobility. If I had to bug out on foot right now, I don't know how far I'd make it other than "not very far."
  •  Make sure you can lift your pack and walk with it.

I don't know how disabled people prepare for evacuation, but I worry I may soon become one. If you're a disabled prepper, I'd love to hear your advice and stories. I'd also love to hear from you if you have overcome back problems. 

Until then, I'm going to be hobbling around the neighborhood, trying to get my flexibility... back. (Pun intended.)

1 comment:

  1. My back trouble comes from blown discs. I had a two level fusion ten years ago but the next level is acting up now. First thing in the morning I can often barely walk across the room. It usually gets better. Since my wife is more disabled than me we have resolved to always shelter in place except for an approaching wildfire in which case we leave by car. At least we are in rural Alaska. Sorry I cant offer better advice.


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