Monday, July 8, 2013

The Nerve.

I like to think I have a pretty high threshold for pain.

When I was in high school I belonged to a Tae Kwon Do studio, working my way up to black belt over the course of about a year and a half. I had never had a big interest in martial arts before, but their huge sign in the window of the studio that offered "SELF DEFENSE CLASSES" reeled me in - and the more I learned, the more I loved it. My decade of dance classes combined with cheerleading experience proved a formidable foundation of strength and flexibility that allowed me to excel at this new (to me) sport. It felt totally empowering, and I miss practicing it.

But onto the pain stuff.

I can recall one class where a younger instructor was teaching us a sort of submission move that involved grabbing the fist of your attacker and bending their thumb (utilizing a pressure point, I'm sure) inward in a way that was supposed to prove them incapacitated. I volunteered to be the proverbial "attacker" in this situation; the instructor taking my hand and showing, step by step, how to position his. He then looked to me, a slight grin on his face, and said, "This only hurt little bit. Okay?" Um, sure. Okay. His chubby fingers began to exert pressure on my thumb. I didn't even flinch.

He pressed harder, and harder again. Still nothing. (I vaguely remember smiling at him at this point.)

The look on his face was priceless - this was supposed to cause me to double over in pain, yet there I stood smiling at him. Did he realize all of the injections, finger sticks, and blood draws I'd had up until that point? This was nothing!

The point of this recollection is that I've, up to now, been under an assumption that I can tolerate quite a bit of pain with some amount of grace.

I've known that late pregnancy sometimes causes back pain; it's one of the multitude of symptoms that gets rattled off when you're learning "what to expect". What I hadn't anticipated was that it would be the sort of debilitating back pain that leaves you involuntarily whimpering every time it shoots down your back. Maybe I thought it was going to be some mild soreness that hangs around, or at least the kind that while uncomfortable, could be manageable.

I certainly didn't expect it to strike during my drive home from work on Friday, leaving me wondering if the facial expressions I was making would cause my fellow drivers to believe I had gone into labor, and more importantly wondering if I could make it home without veering off into a ditch somewhere.

But I did somehow make it home, and as I limped into our house strung together in one, high-pitched sentence "MYBACKISKILLINGMECANYOUPLEASEGETTHESTUFFOUTOFMYCARINEEDTOLAYDOWN" to Aaron. A call to my doctor confirmed: it's sciatic nerve pain, and it's the most painful thing I can remember feeling ever in my life. I spent Friday night and most of the day Saturday trying all of the things you can try to relieve the pain: lying on your opposite side, Tylenol (which, to my delight, didn't seem to interfere with my Dexcom G4 results in the way it would have with the 7+), Icy Hot patches, a maternity belt, and good old-fashioned cursing. Some of it helps, some of it doesn't. This morning I can feel the pain creeping back into my lower left side, and I'm willing the Tylenol I swallowed at breakfast to ward off the worst of it.

I think this is why Mother Nature designed human pregnancy to be so long - if all of these symptoms came on at once instead of the gradual manner in which I've experienced them, I'd be losing my damn mind.


  1. Somewhere, your Tae Kwon Do instructor is smiling...

    Throw everything at it... I'm hoping some (or all) of it will work for you.

  2. I am 31 weeks pregnant feel your (ahem) pain! One thing that has helped immensely is swimming. I could literally live in the pool (which is making me go through Dexcom sensors and pump sites faster than usual, but I don't even care about that because the water feels so incredibly wonderful). I've only had intermittent sciatica nerve pain and it each time it has been mitigated by swimming (I think the anti-gravity effect of water removes the pressure on the sciatic nerve).

  3. I had that with one of my children. It really hurts!!!!!!!! I agree with a previous post that swimming helps. I always enjoyed just floating in the water.

  4. My midwife directed me to a chiropractor who was experienced with (hugely) pregnant women. He was the only reason I was able to walk the last few months of my pregnancy. GOOD LUCK!

  5. Though never pregnant (, I have dealt with sciatic nerve pain when heavier - and since getting down to a "normal weight", when sitting at the computer at work too long or sitting in a moving vehicle too long.

    Anyways, pool water is gooooood, as someone noted above.

  6. Ohmygosh, Kim - that sounds miserable! I'm sorry.

  7. I had sciatica once. It was truly the most horrible pain I have ever experienced. I got out of bed one morning, and could barely stand. I was home alone, and all of a sudden had the feeling that I was going to pass out (not good for a Type I, as we all know.) Somehow I hobbled into the bathroom and was able to fill a glass with cold water. I drank it, and somehow didn't pass out - but the pain became bearable. Then I called the orthopedist, and ended up getting a shot of cortisone that evening. My heart goes out to you. I hope the sciatica will wane as the baby moves to a new position!

  8. I also suffered from sciatic pain while pregnant... worst pain I had felt until chemically induced contractions....just saying... anyway, the only relief I found was stretching that area every hour or so. This is not an easy area to stretch, but I did discover one position. One day I was wiping down large tables in a classroom, and when I really bent forward to reach the other side (not easy with preggo belly), I felt that very specific spot stretch. It hurt soooo good, if you know what I mean. After that, I spent a lot of time stretching over my kitchen table. Probably looking like a beached whale, but really couldn't care less!

  9. Wow, that sounds painful.They say the limits of pain are stretched during pregnancy, makes tae kwon do seem like childsplay.


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