Thursday, March 17, 2011

Step on a Crack, Break your Mother's Back or Ahh, Ahh Acupuncture. . . Why Yes, Please Poke me There

The backpain that I experience during pregnancy can best be described as having a contestant from the Biggest Loser (week one) take a permanent seat on my tailbone for at least nine months. I endured it early on during the pregnancy with the Lady, even when my sister and I were walking upwards of 4 miles almost every day. Ahh those pre-baby days where all we did was chat uninterrupted, while being able to take advantage of having no real timetable to adhere to, no diapers to change, no chicken fingers to bake and when we could still concentrate on our own well being. By my second trimester though, I sought the help of a professional. I went to the chiropractor that my mom and little sister were going to.

There were a few problems with that though, I was living in Connecticut and commuting to Long Island for three days out of the week. Then I was driving from either Long Island or Connecticut to the town in New York where my parents live to meet with this guy for a grand total of like 10-15 minutes, like three times a week.

The TZ, where you can spend days of your life.

The stress that I felt just trying to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge and get to the appointment on time made my back seize up. And although, I felt "better" leaving each appointment, especially after the guy would crack my neck and all the anxiety I had about that each visit would pass, the back pain was never really alleviated. Plus, I was locked into this 2-3 day a week contract with a payment plan and I didn't want to waste my money, so I kept going.

When I was pregnant with the Little Lady, I decided not to take the chiropractic route, just for the sake of my sanity and my wallet, even though the back pain started earlier in the pregnancy and was more intense. I was busy running after the Lady and I figured it was just my cross to bear. I mean, I was pretty lucky in terms of other aspects of the pregnancy, what was a little back pain? Just because it left me feeling like an 85 year old woman by the end of the day and forced my husband to either pull me up out of chairs, or literally push me from behind so that I could get out of bed, I could handle it right? Besides, I knew that once I delivered the baby that the pain would go away. I likened the pain to the Bangles Song "Eternal Flame" and pushed it to the back of my mind.

Is this burning an Eternal Flame?

I was lucky that it was extinguished post-partum.

So, here we are the third time around. I am partially convinced that the Ladies are making the pain worse by insisting that they both be carried. "Hold me momma, hold me," is a common phrase heard in our house, but I am also becoming convinced that the sheer amount of running on the cracks of our wood floors, which causes me to stress over our downstairs neighbor being "disturbed," coupled with the fear that one of them is going to run straight into the kitchen cabinets and crack their head open, is doing nothing to relieve any pressure, anywhere in my life or on my body.

Thankfully, I have other moms to rely on. At one of my Moms Club events, I was not only informed that one of my fellow moms practices Reiki, but also given the name and number of both a chiropractor and an acupuncturist. I figured if I can't take a real pain killer, I might as well go the alternative/healthy way. I wrote down the numbers in the back of my daily planner and then pretty much forgot about them. The pain however got worse.

There were times at night when I would hobble to the bathroom to pee and have to brace myself on the bathroom counter, because the rim of the toilet seat was not quite enough surface area to support my back and the searing pain that shot through my lower back was enough to make me contemplate those giant wee-wee pads you get after delivery, those or Depends.

Modern Family's take on Reiki.

I tried the Reiki first. For those of you who are not familiar with it or only saw that "Modern Family" episode where James Marsden was living in the princess castle in Cam and Mitchell's backyard, Reiki is actually an alternative practice that deals with the transfer of energy through the hands into the body. There is touching involved but no actual manipulation like massage. I figured I would try it out. Not only is the mom someone I trust and am comfortable with, but when else do you get to lay on a table for an hour, listen to calming music and relax? Plus, she made me a kick ass smoothie post-Reiki session and it was delish.

I will say that even though I had a hard time "turning my mind off" (I can't help it, I think about eighteen million things a second) and the chorus to Bon Jovi's "Lay Your Hands on Me" kept on playing in a loop in my head (I know, not really an appropriate song, but I love me some Jon Bon!), that I left that session feeling relaxed and renewed, which is something I needed desperately at that point. My back felt okay, it wasn't like the pain had disappeared, but in all honesty that wasn't what I expected. The fact that my overall mood lifted was a much better fix than the back.

So, I kind of rode that wave for a few weeks, until I decided that I really had had enough. By the end of the day at work, I was half limping down the stairs, by the end of the day at home I was wobbling around from room to room, I broke out the body pillow, I tried some stretching, I tried to ignore the pain, I finally picked up the phone.

When I first spoke to the receptionist at the health and wellness center, she informed me that they didn't take my insurance and that the intial consultation would be $300 and that each follow-up visit would be $85. Way too much for me at this point. As much as I was willing to pay for someone to take away any of the pain, I wasn't going to shell out $300 for an initial visit that I wasn't even sure was going to help me. I told her that deal wasn't going to work for me, but she said she would talk to the acupuncturist and get back to me.

Oh, the pain killer gods were looking down on me. I heard back from the health center and the initial fee was waved and the follow-up visit costs were halved. I made my first appointment.

So I found myself walking into an office in a strip-mall along one of the main drags of my town, where I was greeted by a very nice woman who brought me into a room where I sat on a heated table and explained my pain. I was grateful she was a mother, so she knew what pregnancy felt like. I also found out she was currently pregnant and was a member of my online moms group. I was feeling comfortable, but a bit unsure of what to expect.

Pre-visit, I did ask the mom who gave me the info what I should wear, she suggested loose clothing, which these days is pretty much what my entire wardrobe consists of. I wasn't sure where the needles would go and figured that the shave job I did on my legs two-days earlier would be fine (so of course she put a needle in my leg), I also didn't expect any needles in my feet where the big toes of both my feet are speckeled with the remnants of a really dark shade of brown from a pedicure pre-Christmas, which I can't get off because I threw away the nail polish remover because it expired in 2007 (so obviously, there were needles in my feet). I had showered that day, but the allotted time I spend moisturizing is pretty limited and mostly I am just putting cream on my face, so not only were my legs hairy, my toes chipped with polish, but they along with the rest of my body were pretty flaky and dry.

 I also wasn't sure how she was going to access my back since my belly is pretty big and there was no way I would be on my stomach. So I was put on my side, with the left side up, and then my loose fitting pants were uncerimonisously pulled down to mid-ass region.

I have a problem getting undressed in front of my husband at 28 weeks pregnant. I just don't want to totally scare him away with my super-dark-saucer-sized areolas attached to my breasts that at this point must weigh in at like 7lbs a side, plus, there is the stretch-marked belly. Getting my pants pulled down and my white, cellulite-ridden ass exposed in front of a total stranger I just met 10-minutes earlier--no problem, especially if she is going to stick me with a needle.

I think it's best I can't actually see her putting these in.

So, for about 10 minutes I got poked and prodded with tiny needles in my feet, my leg, my hand, my back and my ears. The acupuncturist told me that she couldn't get the needles too close to my sacrem, which is where most of the pain is stemming from because it could induce labor. I made a mental note to visit her on June 9th and have her implant 25-30 needles in that exact spot.

Then, she covered me with one of those foil-like camping blankets and left the room for 20 minutes. Again, it is amazing what some quiet time can do for someone. Granted, I could hear a conversation about hot dogs through the wall, where I assumed the office of the storefront next to us was, but even that didn't damper my spirits. I mean some people get stoked about hot dogs what can you do?

Who doesn't like a photo of hot dogs?
When she finally returned and took out all the needles, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I what I was able to do was get up pain free from the table and notice an immediate difference from how my back felt when I walked in, to how it felt at that present moment. I allowed myself to hope. I allowed myself to quell those distractions in my head that said it wouldn't work, it couldn't work, it was a waste of time, of money, etc... And as I walked out of that office, pretty much pain free the immortal words of the Bangles drifting through my head in exaultation

Say my name, sun shines through the rain
A whole life so lonely, and then you come and ease the pain
I don't want to lose this feeling. . . Ohhh

Ohh indeed. Ohh indeed.

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