05/03/17, Sciatica, My Enemy
Since I use these posts to write about what's on my mind, I'd like to write about what's bothering me at the moment, it's a thing that won't go away, and is starting to shape my life again. It's called sciatica.
To explain: a few years ago, I used to work out in the gym, two or three times a week. On one occasion I did hamstring curls, where you lie on your front and curl weights up with your legs. Later in the shower my back went like never before. I guess it's this that unleashed the sciatica: the trapping of the sciatic nerve, apparently the longest nerve in your body, from spine down to feet.
Sciatica can be mild or strong, but for me, it meant limping instead of walking, and not sleeping much. I could sleep on one side for 3 hours before waking up, like your body's warning you not to be inattentive to the danger. You just lie there in the dark, wondering why you awoke, not daring to move, knowing that if you do, the sensation will occur at the base of your spine of two electric wires crossing and electrocuting you. You carefully try to roll yourself out of bed, sometimes making it without the jolt, other times the wires touch and you cry out or groan and return to your position, whimpering. You try again. I had the Internet during these periods and would finally make it to a darkened living room and watch comedy on Youtube to pass the hours until feeling better. Eventually I'd return to bed. Warm baths were always the best, the pain goes immediately, but of course you can't lie in a bath forever.
I was in Saudi Arabia at the time, the physiotherapist gave me 'treatment' that left me limping back out to a waiting taxi. Sixteen sessions seemed to make it worse, and psychologically, it's soul-destroying to lose your bounce and make every night a stop-start game of roulette that leaves you crying out in agony. Eventually, back in Wales, I found a physiotherapist who showed me some simple stretching techniques that for a long time made the pain go away.
It's back now, the sciatica, and sleeping isn't as easy as it's been, though not as bad as it was in the bad days. Not yet, anyway. The stretching doesn't seem to help much anymore. I'm okay walking to college in the mornings, though it takes longer than it used to, with one leg slightly restricted. Then in the evenings I walk home and I'm in real pain. Before you leave the building, you take aspirin, for what it's worth, perhaps no more than a placebo, or having 'one for the road.' Sometimes you walk off the pain, and sometimes you don't, slowing right down on the Meadows path, grimacing. I used to do two sets of journeys to the university, now it's often one, and staying in for the evening. It's got so bad that I've nearly finished Orlando by Virginia Woolf.
I value blending in, as a trans person still transitioning, and this has made me more conspicuous. Today I finally decided to do something about it; I don't want to turn to the doctor again for prescription pain-killers. I've started looking at Youtube videos of pilates and hope this will make the difference. It doesn't hurt to adopt a new kind of physiotherapy as you enter your forties, a new kind of hobby.
Always look for the positives, is what I'm trying to say to myself, always look for solutions, and though this may seem hypocritical for someone taking hormones, something that doesn't rely on pills. Perhaps this new Gina is continuing to emerge and it doesn't just involve feminization via pills or surgery but a bigger picture. Perhaps it's time to stop worrying about transgender transformation and start thinking about other forms of reinvention. To your good health, and mine . . .