Kicking Sciatica, Living without Pain (Part 1)

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I’ve never been a patient person. This post is a pretty solid example.

I’m writing this perhaps months before I should. And, of course, by writing it now I’m risking the threat of the omnipresent and mighty jinx.

Living with Sciatica

The last couple of years of my life have been marred by sciatica. For those who don’t know much about it, it’s a condition where the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve on the body, is inflamed. The pain can start from the lower back, and can radiate all the way down to your ankle.

I have felt pain before, including shredding my ACL twice. And yet nothing has compared to the worst days of my sciatica. Days where it felt like a knife was being shoved into my leg and twisted for hours straight without even a moment of reprieve.

Sitting with Sciatica

Sadly, with my condition one of the hardest things for me to do is sit. At first I just dealt with it. But then the pain became so severe that sitting was basically never an option. Thus I took to a mattress, and all day, every day, I worked lying down.

On so many levels this was depressing for me. It was sad because I’m an active and fit person, and yet I was living a lifestyle like the grandparents from Willy Wonka. I felt weak and pathetic.

And even with this, the pain just wasn’t going anywhere. I was defeated. After years of successfully keeping myself injury and illness free, I couldn’t sit down or stand up without agony.

And it felt like there was no end in sight.

The pain just wasn't going anywhere. I was defeated. After years of successfully keeping myself injury and illness free, I couldn't sit down or stand up without agony. Click To Tweet

The Dreaded Beginning

The condition began one day while I was working. I stood up from my desk and with my first step I felt a vicious wave of pain shoot down my left leg. I was definitely unhappy and extremely curious what just happened, but with my second or third step the pain seemed to go away. So I didn’t think too much about it.

However, this became a recurring theme throughout the day. I felt fine sitting, standing, walking. Just that first step or two after getting up was excruciating. Unfortunately, I didn’t think much of it and assumed whatever was ailing me would be gone soon enough.

Dr. Google

And when it wasn’t, I started my Google searches and asking around to find out what was going on. It wasn’t difficult to discover that I had sciatica. But what was difficult was figuring out why and what I should do next. I found countless recommendations for stretches and exercises. I even found self-tests to figure out what type of sciatica I had (it appeared there were two basic types, and I had the rarer one).

My searches seemed fruitful at times. Every once in a while I stumbled upon some routine that I would try out and it felt like I had found my miracle cure. I would do all the stretches and take a walk, and I spent multiple hours pain free.

I would excitedly try again the next day only to find out that for whatever inexplicable reason, it no longer relieved my pain. Everything I tried only worked once.

Let the Search Begin

Everyone had a recommendation for me of something or someone that worked for them. And I explored a bunch. This part is usually really hard for me. I’m very wary of doctors, and all sorts of various alternative medicines, and didn’t need more reasons to be skeptical. But desperation was starting to settle in.

After multiple people recommended acupuncture, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I was told one practitioner was amazing and could solve everything.

I went. Shelled out my cash. And got poked and prodded for an exhausting hour. I was told that the next 24 hours might be tough, but after that I would start feeling relief. In general, this would set off my BS alarm. However, I was so hopeful to get some form of reprieve from my pain that I danced home enthusiastically.

But the pain was still there the next day. And the day after that.

Pain and Despair

When I went back I was told that occasionally it takes two treatments. My skepticism starting creeping in. And my money started leaking from my wallet…

When two sessions accomplished nothing, and I was told that for some it takes four sessions, and that for certain it would have worked right away if I had come sooner, I was done. My time is precious. My money is scarce, and could and should be spent elsewhere.

And now my violent pain was coupled with bitter despair.

And very sadly I had a fairly similar experience with an orthopedist who did dry needling on my injury. Nothing. Nada. Just false hopes, a whole lot of lost time, and an unwelcome recommendation for heavy pain killers.

I already have abundant trust issues with all types of medical professionals. This didn’t help.

Understanding my Pain

But I needed something. I needed someone who was willing to take the time necessary to really understand what was going on with my leg, and to work hard, no matter how long it takes, to work through my issues. To find out what’s really going on, and what are the underlying causes. And to pour out information constantly so that I understand all the details.

I needed confidence and competence, but not coupled with arrogance and false hopes. I needed a plan for what I can do with my free time to constantly improve my situation, and not completely rely on a quick session with a doctor to be the sole treatment I rely upon.

My Time has Come

But one thing was absolutely certain, I couldn’t continue with the way things were. This awful injury has already taken so much of my life away. It has caused me massive suffering. It even caused me to postpone my honeymoon… which will happen in the near future, thanks to recent improvements.

How did I get here? How am I finally moving forward after two years of absolute misery?

See you in my next post!

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