Wind back the clock, if you will, to 1997.
It’s early morning, some time during the school term. I’m lying in bed, fast asleep, most likely dreaming about Louise Nurding or some other attractive female celebrity – hey, I’m 13, don’t judge.
Something interrupts my sleep. Pain. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I wake up with a start and attempt to locate the source.
I can’t move.
At least, not without sending shockwaves of pain that would probably register a solid 11 on the Richter scale if they were capable of doing so.
I try and move again. No dice.
All I can do is twist my neck and move my head, and even that causes some serious discomfort.
I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, so I do the only thing that any sensible 13 year old would do in that situation – I scream bloody murder for my parents in the hope that they’ll burst in like knights in shining armour and rescue me from my bed-shaped prison.
Dad bursts in through the door to find out what’s up, and I explain as calmly as I can everything I’ve just described to you.
I end up essentially bed-ridden for a solid two days, staying off school (which was not something I ever did lightly) while my joints and muscles healed enough to let me move without cursing the God I don’t believe in.
That was my first experience of back problems, and ever since then I’ve experienced the occasional relapse.
So, what was it?
image credit: totaloffice.biz
Well, as I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out from that helpful image and the needlessly alliterative heading, it was essentially my spine being buggered, most likely from years of bad posture when sat at chairs and desks – a common symptom of high computer use.
My most painful relapse was when I was about 19 or 20 – it still wasn’t as bad as my original episode, but I decided to do something about it and ended up on a six month course of physiotherapy, referred by my GP.
It was during this physio process that I learned more about good posture, ergonomics and how to avoid slouching at my desk. After the physio came to a close, I went a good 5 or 6 years without any further trouble.
Unfortunately, I can only assume that my posture is getting worse again as the back problems are becoming more frequent.
Fat wallet syndrome
I also noticed a few years ago that, if I drove a long distance or sat in the same spot for a long time (an hour and a half or more) that by the time I stood up, my right leg was very difficult to “command” and ached like hell.
Worrying about sciatica and other conditions, I went to my GP who diagnosed me with “fat wallet syndrome.”
She explained that having a wallet in the back pocket of my trousers that I was then sitting on in the car was quite possibly restricting the flow of blood in the nerves around that region, which was basically stopping circulation to my leg and leading to the problems.
Her only recommendation to me was simple – either stop using wallets, or move it to another pocket.
I opted for the latter, moving it from my back pocket to my front pocket. It took a week or so to get used to not putting it in my back pocket automatically, but the problem immediately stopped and I’ve had no further issues with my legs since.
Well, not issues related to fat wallet syndrome at least. My chronic inability to tolerate alcohol has led to a few scrapes.