I’ve not posted one of my rambling collection of thoughts for a while…so…
Despite doing a physical job, lugging rocks about the place, hitting rocks with hammers and chisels and lots of manual handling, I’ve not had any major injuries before. A sore back a couple of times, a sore thumb where I hit it with a hammer and a few stone chips in the eye (otherwhise known as occupational hazards). Otherwise, I’ve been injury free.
However, in November I managed to do some proper damage to my lower back.
I had a small window of opportunity to get some help from a friend to level a garden full of wet and very heavy clay soil. Unfortunately the rain bucketed down all day, turning the garden into a quagmire. If I had been sensible, I wouldn’t have gone to work that day, but due to circumstances – a busy work schedule, the availability of labour and a desire to finish the job and get paid, I went.
It was a horrible day, every spadeful of clay soil stuck to the spade, and I was twisting and turning my back whilst my feet were stuck in the ground.
The following day, I had a new job to get started, and this one involved taking 10 tonnes of material from the bulk bags and crates it was delivered in and placing it large plastic tubs for a team of hired helpers to move. I did this for the five hours it took to shift everything. Again bent over, and again twisting my back.
The next day, a Saturday, I was immobile. Couldn’t move. My back spasms were intense and frequent. It was not a good look.
But work goes on, and I had to work. Keeping the cash flowing when there is no injury insurance means you got to work. Normally my back pain has been brief: maybe a couple of days of stiffness. This time the spasms kept on and on. In the mornings it was torture getting dressed. I couldn’t sleep because of the pain.
I went to a job and was in so much pain I had to kneel down to fill the wheel-barrow with stone. I couldn’t bend over.
So what do you do when your back is sore and you need to work? You start over-using your other muscles to compensate – in this case my arms, shoulder and neck.
Cue further muscle pulls and strains to my wrist, deltoid and my trapezius. So, since November, I’ve been struggling with back spasms (thankfully they stopped in February) soon followed by endless shoulder pain made much worse by the constant lifting and hammering required by the job, and occasional wrist strain from trying to move rocks without using my back properly.
So what is the solution?
Rest definitely helped. The two weeks off a Christmas really helped my back, although it started hurting again when I went back to work. Another week at Easter gave my shoulder some recovery time too. I had a couple of sessions with a massage therapist to try and realign my back and give some relief to the pain. The therapist suggested that the original digging session had torn some of the small muscles that are based in the lower back and it would take time for them to heal. I also sought pain relief – lots of paracetamol helped deal with the pain, and loads of pain-relief gels like Voltarol (there are others on the market!). And the occasional malt whisky too!
The injuries, especially the back, have made for a difficult time. My hours worked from November to April are well down on what I’ve done in previous years, meaning my earnings are suffering. Rest is the best thing for the pain, but its just not a long-term option. I can’t really change the job, as it will always required lifting, moving, bending and hammering. It’s just what it is.
So tonight as I write this, my back is a wee bit stiff after filling barrows this morning with soil delivered to my current client. And my deltoid is sore too as I’ve been hammering a lot as well. What can I do?
A lottery jackpot win is probably the only solution.