Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Back and Valium: Friend and Foe

A few weeks ago, as I was disembarking the Cathay Pacific airplane that safely delivered us to Los Angeles from Hong Kong, I took a misstep. I didn't fall. I almost did though - and on several levels, I'm beginning to think that it would have been better if I had just fallen in the jetway instead of catching myself in the way that I did.

Apparently, when I did this - after the 14 hour flight - I strained some muscles in my lower back. Supposedly, I could have pulled some out of their normal place. Mind you, I didn't have any back pain at all during our next flight from Los Angeles to Boston - nor did I have any back pain for the next four days. It hit me all of a sudden as I was sitting at my desk typing and it hit like an electrical storm in my lower back. I slumped over onto the floor in pain - that was nasty. There wasn't one position that felt comfortable. I couldn't sit. I couldn't stand. I couldn't lie on my back, my side, my stomach - nothing. It just hurt. I downed Advil. It got better as the day progressed and by the next day, the pain was pretty dull. It was there, but it was dull - so I didn't go to a doctor. The pain was gone for four whole days and then it returned for two. Then it left again for a few days - but when it came back, it was seriously ticked off and refused to leave.

I saw a doctor in my primary care physician's practice. After examining me, she determined that she didn't think my problem was neurological (whew) but she thought I could benefit from monster doses of Ibuprofen and either physical therapy or a chiropractor. I took the monster doses of Advil and left for Chicago the next day. Any physical therapy or chiropractor visits were going to have to wait until after I got back from Chicago.

The pain got way worse while I was in Chicago and when I got back to Boston, I went back to the doctors' offices. I saw a different physician and she also agreed that she didn't think my problem was neurological but she had XRays taken anyway just to make sure. She said that I should not see a chiropractor ever and thought that the combination of Valium and frequent back massages would help me. She didn't think the Ibuprofen was strong enough. My back muscles were stiffening and had been strained. If the problem persisted, physical therapy is the route she was suggesting. Seeing two doctors in the same practice and hearing two different points of view on my back situation kind of reminds me of the differing vet opinions for our dog's back. Ugh.

So I have been taking Diazepam (Valium) for the last 10 days. I don't like to medicate - ever. The doctors think that I may have autoimmune hepatitis - so I like to baby my liver a bit. Tylenol is a definite no-no so I stay away from Acetaminophen. I'll take Advil if I have to but I'll put up with aches and pains if it's not too bad just so I don't have to medicate. I've even stopped taking my allergy medications - except in the cases when I have a bad reaction. I can put up with sniffles and sneezes as long as it's not too severe. I did, however, take the Diazepam - I didn't think I had a choice. My back ached constantly and I was willing to give it a go. Thankfully, with the daily massages and the medication, my back has gotten better. It isn't 100% better yet but it has improved enough that I only take the Diazepam at night and not during the day anymore - thank God!

If I can avoid it at all, I will always avoid taking Diazepam. For me, personally, though it helped my back immensely, it didn't do good things for my mood. I'm usually pretty hopeful, in general and I usually have a decent amount of energy to get a lot done in a day. Even though I knew that I truly was one of the last people on the planet who had any right to complain about anything or be sad about anything, I was sad. I was sad and unmotivated. Add to that somewhat uncoordinated, tired and not capable of operating my car while on medication and I was downright miserable. I'm not a mopey person and I was mopey. I don't think it affects everyone like it affected me. That medication was great and yet it sucked. I loved it and I hated it.

I was basically stuck at home for a week and a half in a sucky mood. I didn't tweet much - because who really wants to tweet when you're in a bad mood? I wrote a blog post on the day that I started taking the Diazepam and then couldn't find it in me to write any more. I couldn't find it in me to just read my friends' RSS feeds (sorry guys). I didn't call my friends or family - who wants to talk with someone who seems to sigh every ten minutes? Really, I was afraid I'd start crying on the phone or something. I went on like everything was fine though because that's all I could think to do. When I think I might be getting sick, I act like I'm not and usually, I don't. I thought that if I acted like I was fine, I would be. My poor husband would come home to me, usually looking like I got run over by something and seriously try to make me feel better. As if he didn't have enough going on during his day. The man is practically a saint and knowing that actually made me feel even worse - he made me feel better - but then that made me feel worse. How the heck does that make any sense at all?

As my back progressed, I determined yesterday that I wouldn't take the Diazepam during the day anymore. I got so much done yesterday that I kind of surprised myself. Today, I'm in a much better mood - finally. Though I can have a refill of the medication, I think I'll throw it in the medicine cabinet for extreme back pain only. I think the next time I step off of an airplane onto a wet jetway, I'll be a lot more careful.


Bilguun said...

I'm sorry to hear that you hurt your back.
Have you thought about wearing a SACROILIAC BELT around your pelvis? It seems that most people wear SI Belts now a days. The price of SI belts are in reasonable range these days, average cost is about $40 USD. I know a lot of people who wear SI belts, and I've read some astonishing testimonials about it.

Although there are many good SI belts out there, Serola SI Belt seems to be the best SI belt out there as far as quality, comfort, and price are considered. Check out their website for more:

Maybe it will help. Good luck to you!

Danacea said...

I've had diazepam thrown at me by the medical profession on occasion... and I know exactly what you mean about the effects it has, both comforting and ghastly. Like you, I don't take it unless I have no choice.

Nicely written :)