Three weeks overdue for the Back ICU

To Donate to Liz’s Bike to Build Ride, click here

For those whose second language (or perhaps 3rd or more) IS NOT Facebook, I apologize for paying more attention to Facebook updates than to my precious “bike to build blog” updates the last few weeks. If you are not sure if you are FB-lingual, check yourself to see how often you’ve used words such as “newsfeed, liked, posted, commented, shared and tagged” recently. If these do not flow regularly out of your mouth, my guess is that you have not read my FB status updates ad nauseam about bike riding. Well, there is a lot to catch you up on then!

As a result, I have decided to break up the last few weeks of adventures into three to five “small” blog posts…rather than compete in length with War and Peace.  The first incident, which was noteworthy and anything but timely, occurred right after our week long dual destination vacation to Vermont and Long Beach Island. It was Thursday August 7th, and right around the time that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was going viral. I was nominated by my lovely niece Haley sometime that week; and although I did not abide by the 24 hour rule, I was not going to wimp out of this one.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I do not go very far without a beverage in my hand or at least at arms length, and typically it is a very cold beverage. For road trips, especially those over a couple hours, I generally bring a fairly large cooler filled with several bags of ice and far more drinks than is necessary. I mention this because this factors into my ice bucket challenge story. I chose to wait until I got home from vacation because I did not want to make a spectacle of myself while on the Coogan family vaca. We loaded up the cooler, which had about 5 pounds of ice in it, with an additional 16 pounds of ice before leaving New Jersey. This not only kept the sodas and waters at the perfect temperature for my liking, but it also provided a perfect prop for the challenge.

When we left New Jersey the temperature was probably 80 degrees, as it had been most days we were there; and by the time we arrived in Quincy seven hours later, it had dropped about 15 degrees. In other words, it wasn’t so scorching hot out that I longed to be doused by cold water. Nonetheless, I was challenged…and I have never been one to back away from a challenge. Being the neurotic person I am,  I wrote out the words I planned to say before doing “the challenge” because I did not want to mess it up…for it was not the type of video I wanted to do a second take on. I changed clothes so I was no longer wearing a white tee (gotta keep it clean), and I took the cans out to prevent a head injury.  I moved the 20 pounds of ice filled frigid water to my old trusty igloo cooler so I wouldn’t be hit by the swinging doors from the fancy new cooler…and I was ready to go. Justine got the ipad ready, began taping, and all went as planned…or so I thought. I read the script, announced my donation and people I was nominating, and dumped the ice and water over my head. The video came out well, I had a towel ready for me to dry off, and all seemed fine…that is, until the next morning.

I now have deep empathy for all the friends, family members, and acquaintances I’ve heard agonizing over “throwing their back out.” Suffice it to say that I had so much pain in my lower back the following morning that I could barely get out of bed . I attempted to bend down and take my dog’s collar off, and I could not even do it. All I could muster at that moment was to crawl to the couch and fall sideways. I definitely had some back pain from being hit by a car a few weeks before, but I had been bicycling and running since then. I was totally perplexed as to the cause…never giving the ALS ice challenge a second thought. It was not until showing my mother the video a couple days later, that light dawned on marble head.

This would not be a big deal if the injury occurred a month or two before. Unfortunately, I had a little plan to ride my bike 300 plus miles in seven days, and I did not factor “healing from a back injury” into my plans that week. I am notorious for being a bad patient when the prescription is REST, but in this case, I was willing to do absolutely anything to be free from the pain long enough to do my ride the following week. If I lived closer to Medjugorje, I would have been praying to the Blessed Virgin for miracles. I thought of turning to some new aged healing techniques, but I passed up the crystal chakra healing, channeling, and shamanic drumming and headed instead to a local Chinese massage parlor and then to a chiropractor.

The masseuse wasn’t the traditional Western young woman with soothing energy and a soft serene voice, and the parlor was neither aesthetically pleasing nor particularly sterile; but suffice it to say, this woman knew what she was doing. It was slightly unorthodox and not what I was accustomed to. There was no wind chimes or ocean waves playing through the Bose speakers and no soft pillow or comfy sheets to welcome my aching body. In fact, there were no “sheets” to speak of and nothing covering my body. I walked in to see a massage table that looked like a hospital bed with the crinkly paper sheet on top, and I was instructed to take my clothes off and cover myself with the yard of crinkly paper available to me, which could not have covered me if I tried. Uncomfortable? Initially yes, but I was willing to do anything. Anything? Yes, anything, even if that meant not giggling or questioning why the masseuse was jumping up on the table and straddling me while she was pressing her elbows into my back. Yes, anything, even if it meant not asking questions about the poles going across the ceiling to help the massage therapists keep their balance while they walked across the clients’ backs. Just get me better, I am at your mercy! After 90 minutes with ShaSha, I was not pain-free, but she did a great job loosening up some of the muscles that had knotted up in my neck, back, and gluteus maximus during my long training rides. My prescription from ShaSha was rest for the next 2 to 3 days, and I was more than happy to follow it.

My second provider consulted in the “back ICU” was Dr. Jessica at Whole Body Solutions in Quincy. The aesthetic experience of entering the office could not have been more different than the forementioned massage one, but it was equally effective. Dr. Jessica knows the skeletal and muscular systems inside and out, and offered me a treatment plan, which worked magically. She smirked when I told her I needed to be ready in seven days, and she urged me to ice and rest my back as much as possible over the next week. We had three chiropractic sessions that week, where she made “adjustments” to my back and neck, gave me ultrasound treatment in the injured area, and put me on a homeopathic cocktail of Relief-Tone and Ligaplex 1  twice per day. In total, I have seen her six times now, and the improvement in my back is remarkable. I cycled the entire ride to New York with very little back pain, and I have begun running again without pain. Sooo, for someone who was a little skeptical about chiropractors in the past, I DRANK THE KOOL-AID AND I AM A BELIEVER!

To check out the video of me tackling the ALS ice bucket challenge (and unknowingly injuring myself), click here.


To Donate to Liz’s Bike to Build Ride, click here



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