Recovering and Rehabbing in a COVID World

Recovering and Rehabbing in a COVID World

Since March 17, I have been working from home due to the current pandemic. As an introvert, I am totally digging it. Alas, there has been a challenge that I did not expect.

The first week that I was home, I decided to take advantage of working from home and GET STUFF DONE! You all know how I love to plan to get stuff done, and occasionally even actually, well, get stuff done.

So when I finished with my work for the day, I shut my laptop and headed out into the back yard to do some tree trimming. Success! Next day, I did some more. Success!

Day 3, I climbed the ladder and started trimming. And then … the ladder flew out from under me, and I had time to think, “This is really going to hurt” as I hurtled to the ground, smacking my head squarely on the trunk of the tree.

One ride in an ambulance and visit to the emergency room later, and I was home, with a nasty gash on my head, torn muscles in my back and leg, and a mild concussion. This was at the very start of the COVID-19 shutdown. The hospital was off-limits to visitors – patients and staff only. My husband and daughter had to wait in the parking garage while I was X-rayed, CT scanned, and finally patched up.

I spent a few days in bed, and the next month walking with a cane or gripping the walls. My head healed first, though it is still a little sore. Same with my leg. But my lower back became completely locked up.

In the pre-COVID world, I likely would have started some physical therapy, consisting of heat, massage, and exercises to get my back to normal. In the COVID world, I was pretty much on my own. I didn’t want to bother my doctor, since he has actual sick people to deal with and my main complaint was that it hurt to sit down all day.

I started by alternating heat and ice, about 20 minutes each. I used Salon Pas patches to help numb the area. I took Tylenol and naproxen, as prescribed by the ER doctor, and I was able to message my PCP and get a prescription for muscle relaxers.

Eventually, the prescriptions ran out. I switched to ibuprofen, and supplemented with gabapentin (my migraine medicine) on bad days. I finally got to the point where I didn’t need the pain killers anymore, and I only took them as needed.

Once I felt my back could take it, I tried some very mild foam rolling, which help release some of the tight muscles. About a week ago, I was able to put away the cane and start walking up and down the block, slowly, to allow my body to move. I could only do about ten minutes before I was too sore to go on, but the movement really seemed to help. I was able to start returning to normal things like bending over without wincing or getting in and out of bed without screaming in pain.

This week, encouraged by my progress and the receding pain, I resumed modified weight training, focusing on upper body ONLY, with light weights, in mostly seated positions. This is really helping my back as well, and what’s more, it’s improving my mood. I am always amazed how exercise stimulates the “I can do this!” part of my brain.

I must remember not to take it too fast. Healing takes times. Slow and ease progress, and I will eventually get back to normal. Oh, and stay the f— off of ladders!

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