Healing From Back Pain With Mental Illness

My back has mostly healed by now.  About the only time I feel any kind of pain is when walking longer than five minutes at a time.  Probably doesn’t sound like much but ten days ago I was getting this shooting pains that felt like electric shocks in my back almost every time I stood up.  I still haven’t gotten brave enough to try to sleep on my back.  I’ll probably sleep in the recliner for another night or two.  But today is the first day I haven’t put ice on my back at all for almost two weeks.  I have definitely been limited by this back injury.  I imagine I would have been fired for missing so much work had I still been working.  Part of the reason I don’t mind not working; I can heal at my own natural speed.

I saw the chiropractor on Tuesday.  She was happy that I was making good progress.  She seems to think I’m recovering faster than normal.  I don’t go back in for at least another month but that should just be basic maintenance.  I’m glad I was able to get my back mostly cleared after only three visits.

The worst part about this back injury was I couldn’t exercise and I got lazy about my dieting.  I’m sure I gained several pounds over the last two weeks.  Today is the first day in awhile I’m tracking everything I’m eating again.  It’s worked in the past.  It’s the biggest thing that worked in the past.  No reason it can’t work again.

The days have been kind of boring these last two weeks as I healed from my back problems.  I played more Civilization 5 and Skyrim in the last two weeks than the previous three months.  As much as I like computer games, even a geek like myself knows there’s far more to life than just sitting in front of a computer.  I have been getting outside more the last three days.  I make it a point to stand up every two or three hours and walk around for a few minutes.  Ran some errands yesterday and bought a few shirts.  Since I’m not fashion obsessed I can get by pretty cheap on clothing.  Most of the stuff I get is pretty plain.  I wear mainly t-shirts and occasionally polo shirts.  I don’t have much for dress clothes since I worked mainly manual labor jobs most of my adulthood.  I think I look like one of the hired thugs from ‘The Sopranos’ when dressed up anyway.  Regardless my wardrobe was due for a few updates.

The back is almost completely healed.  I probably have another few days of nagging pains.  So I may be taking it a little easier until the weekend.  Since I started tracking what I eat again (I had been lazy about that for several weeks), I’m ready to get back on track with the weight loss.

Advertisements

Inactivity In Winter

Winters have always been an odd time for me.  Not because my mental illness flares up in winter or I have winter depression.  It is because of forced inactivity and longer nights that cold weather always brings.  I’ve always been one of these people who have a hard time sitting still for long.  As a kid I used to pace in our large backyard for hours at a time, just thinking and dreaming up stories and adventures.  I did this some even in the winter.  Yet I would be counting down the days until spring started and things would warm up.  I hated the forced inactivity and being forced to stay indoors then.  I still don’t like it much.  The only ways I can sit still are by reading a book, writing in a journal, playing an intellectually challenging computer game, watching educational and informative videos on youtube and netflix, or chatting with friends over the phone.  Even in my physical downtime I have to be mentally engaged in some activity.

This is even more so in winter.  While my home state doesn’t have the snow falls some places do, we do have bad cold and really bad north winds.  Even when it’s been dry for several days, it’s tough to go outside because of the cold and the howling winds that are common on the Nebraska plains.  This forced inactivity does force me to be more careful about how much I eat since it’ll be tough to burn it off just by walking inside.  I don’t have a gym membership and, since I lost 60 pounds exercising on my own in 2014, I don’t think I need one.  I’ll probably sign up for one for the end of 2015 if I actually gain weight this winter.

One of the ways I’ve worked against boredom in winter in past years was by reading and writing.  I’ve traditionally done more heavy reading in winter months than other months.  I really don’t like much on cable tv anymore. I’m one of those people who feels like a day is wasted if he doesn’t accomplish something physically or learns something mentally.  So just sitting in front of the tv for hours isn’t an option.  I have gotten to where when I’m reading or writing on my computer, I’ll have youtube with a music program playing in one window while I write on another.  I’m also getting into free audiobooks and podcasts through youtube as well.  I figure if I can’t be outside and doing something, I’ll be inside and learning something.

I admit I often learn things merely to satisfy an intellectual curiosity that demands to be fed on a daily basis.  It doesn’t make me any more money (obviously) but it does scratch an itch that won’t go away on it’s own.  It also makes for interesting conversation.  I don’t really do well with small talk at social gatherings, probably because of my mental illness and natural introverted nature.  I’m not the center of attention at parties, but I am usually in the corner with a few other people tossing ideas back and forth.

My intellectual pursuit probably seems pointless to some and intellectual vanity to others.  But it is a good way for me to pass the time, especially in winter.  If it makes me a little more knowledgeable and better at carrying an intelligent conversation, I will do it.  Maybe in a few years, after I achieve my health and weight goals, I can then be doing more physical things to add to the intellectual strength.  I’d really like to become my own version of ‘The Most Interesting Man’ from the beer commercials.  I never could understand why anyone would voluntary end their learning once they leave school.  I know school was boring for many people, myself included.  For me, my independent study scratches the itch my formal education didn’t.  I do much of this independent study in winter.

We all have twenty four hours in a day.  We all have our times of forced inactivity.  But forced inactivity can be use for our benefit.  Even ancient societies recognized the importance of down time even if it was forced.  I use my winters to really increase my mental activity, reading, and learning.  It’s either that or allow myself to go as stale and bleak as the winter weather outside.