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Monday, 21 January 2008

Pain management

Just before Christmas my partner slipped a disc and I slipped into another world; one in which instead of thinking 'Do I really have to do bloody everything round here myself?' I really did have to do bloody everything myself. The timing perfectly coinciding with the week of mad pre-Christmas preparations, I stoically put my nose to the plough and embarked on an ambitious round of kid-ferrying, present-buying, food-preparing and gift-wrapping along side all the usual cooking, cleaning, tidying, bottom-wiping, bathing, dressing and entertaining that having three small kids entails. A few weeks later, Christmas and New Year out of the way, and Paul's back is much better thank you, but my neck only swivels in one direction, I have shooting pains up and down my right arm and every now and then I have no feeling in my hand. A visit to the physio ensues. Dino (yes, that is his name) is a Kiwi (that probably explains it) who says to me after an initial examination, 'Man, you are totally neurally tight.' The English tranlsation is that I am a complete physical wreck at the tender age of 36 and cannot extend my right arm in any direction without extreme pain. My back is so tight that he is unable to manipulate it despite exerting a great deal of effort trying. The answer, he assures me with great confidence, is for me to undertake a series of exercises each day to stretch the nerves and muscles in my shoulder, neck and arms. He whizzes me through umpteen exercises: this one, ten times, four times a day; that one, just a couple of times every hour; the other one, twenty times, but just a couple of times a day, and so on and so forth. There is a slight issue with all of this. At some point in every day I have to get at least four people up and out of bed, washed, dressed, fed and out of the house to various locations, I have to squeeze in eight or nine hours work and then I have to tidy up after everyone, manage the household admin, write the shopping lists, pack the school bags, make the lunch for nursery next day, maybe watch a bit of TV or read a chapter of a book and then, oh, maybe get some sleep. And as I leave the physio to re-enter the fray I am already struggling to remember all the exercises, to remember the various frequencies... Man, if it wasn't automatic I'd probably forget to breathe!

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