Heater, Mother of Lance

Getting older pretty much sucks

Starting last week my lower back started to flare up, a ten-year-old injury that likes to say hello every now and then. I’m not sure exactly what provoked it this time, but lately Marlo can’t decide if she wants me to pick her up or put her down and all the bending over is probably causing problems. I’m adding this to a long list of things I’m going to bring up during the toast at her wedding that will begin when I hold up a giant poster of my naked butt covered in stretch marks.


I saw my chiropractor twice last week for this issue, and I thought I was feeling better. But yesterday morning when I lifted Marlo out of her crib my entire lower back started seizing. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t walk, couldn’t sit down, couldn’t get comfortable in any position. In fact, I felt like I was in labor. In fact, I started making a noise that would indicate I was in labor, a sound that a vocal, constipated hippo might make while being gutted with a chainsaw.

I give Jon and many men I know a hard time about how they act when they are sick.

See: Man Cold

And now I have so much crow to eat because I could not stop that noise from coming out of my mouth. It gushed out of my throat, a moaning waterfall of pain. I was, I’m afraid, a poor little bunny.

Since I had already seen my chiropractor for this problem, I made an appointment with a masseuse to see if she might help soothe the knot of muscles in my back. Now, you have to understand, I am one of those people who think it is inappropriate to makes noises when getting a massage. One does not sigh or groan or produce any sound similar to the one made when getting it up the pooper.

So there I am, face down on the table. And already I’m uncomfortable because no position is comfortable, and instead of breathing deeply to calm myself down I’m holding my breath so that I don’t scream. I think this is the scientific process behind volcanoes.

Because when she would ask, “How is this pressure?” I’d answer a little too enthusiastically, “GRRRRRREAT! GRRRRRRRRRRREAT! GRRRRRRRRRRREAT!” just to give a voice to the boiling pain that was searing my entire body. I’m sure that when she was sitting around with the other masseuses over coffee that she had one hell of a story to tell about the woman possessed by Tony the Tiger.

When it was over I could barely put my clothes on, let alone walk to the parking lot and open the door to the car. I felt like I was giving birth and had to drive myself to the hospital. About four blocks from home I pulled over the car, broke down into heaving sobs and called Jon. Could he please meet me in the garage because I’M GOING TO DIE AND I WANT SOMEONE TO HOLD MY HAND WHILE IT HAPPENS.

You guys, I was in so much pain that I didn’t punch him in the balls when he said, “You haven’t taken your meds today, have you.”

NO! I hadn’t! But I would still be crying anyway!

He helped me out of the car, propped me on his arm so that I could climb the stairs to our bedroom, and then he gave me medicine and water and everything I needed to rest comfortably. He was my hero despite the insensitive and TOTALLY uncalled for comment.

Today I’m much better. Loaded up on ibuprofen and ice and more ibuprofen. I can walk and sit in certain positions. Also, I took my meds, so I’m pretty confident that I’m not going to die.

  • Katie

    2011/05/11 at 11:17 am

    I’m sure you won’t appreciate this unsolicited advice, BUT my husband’s chronic back pain was only relieved after he started doing yoga regularly. His doctor’s prescription was taking Vicodin for the rest of his life. Regular yoga is better than a Vicodin addiction, for sure.

    However, one can’t become the valedictorian of yoga, so it might not be your thing. 😉

  • jilllovesbacon

    2011/05/11 at 11:19 am

    I totally get it. Last night I was curled up in a ball, feeling like a gargoyle was birthing itself from my lower back, thinking, “how much vicodin is too much? Two? Three? Fifteen?” Ugh.

  • angelbee

    2011/05/11 at 11:21 am

    I agree with Katie, you can’t become the valedictorian of yoga.

    But, once you’re feeling better (and you will even if you don’t believe it) check into some yoga and I will patiently wait for the downward facing dog stories that are sure to ensue.

  • Totah Sam

    2011/05/11 at 11:30 am


    ’nuff said.

  • yellowflipflops

    2011/05/11 at 11:31 am

    I’m not one to go throwing names around. But http://www.lamontclinic.com down on South Temple may be who you need to see! Just a tip. Taylor really can work his magic… and he’s flamboyant gay, so that’s always a plus!

  • erina

    2011/05/11 at 11:31 am

    I agree, yoga would help……but I would recommend Bikram Yoga.

  • Steph at UM

    2011/05/11 at 11:51 am

    I’m all for yoga, but please don’t start while your back is seizing. I would vote for a muscle relaxer first.

  • SugarShopSweets

    2011/05/11 at 11:56 am

    I down for the yoga too PLUS a Mojito with a sidecar : )

    Feel better : )

  • ronnagail

    2011/05/11 at 11:59 am

    Next time try acupuncture. I have had severe back pain ever since I was in an auto accident years ago. The only thing that helps is acupuncture. Love it!!

  • CallistoRain

    2011/05/11 at 12:03 pm

    I absolutely agree with everyone about yoga. I have had chronic back pain for years and I stand in a research lab all day everyday. I started yoga a year ago. I go once a week and never thought I would feel as good as I have. You should def try it! My dad used to get acupuncture on himself. Another great alternative medicine to try.

  • mdputhoff

    2011/05/11 at 12:05 pm

    I started coming down with a cold on Sunday. At some point yesterday, I thought I was ready to die and I had taken my meds for the day. Being sick just sucks period! Ibuprofen is a miracle drug. Reduces swelling, eases pain, even helps me sleep. I’m feeling somewhat better (will probably go back to work tomorrow) and I’m glad you are too.

  • PeachKiss

    2011/05/11 at 12:14 pm

    Have you tried taking Benedryl with Aleve? I had something similar happen and I hobbled to the pharmacy and the pharmacist said that if you take 2 Benedryl with 2 Aleve before bed it acts as a “muscle relaxer”…well, it definitely did for me. I don’t know how other meds work with it, so I don’t recommend this but just saying, it worked for me.

  • Krysta B

    2011/05/11 at 12:20 pm

    I am right there with you! With the exception that taking vicodin made me throw up all day long.

    My back problems started acting up last week to the point where I could not sit, stand, lay down, move, anything without being in serious pain. It is the worst. I wish you luck girl!

  • kristinpaula

    2011/05/11 at 12:23 pm

    Are you sure you don’t have a bulging or ruptured disc? The pain you’re describing sounds exactly like what happened to me 8 years ago, and it kept flaring up over a matter of a couple of weeks until I finally ended up having emergency disc surgery. Ouchies.

    Since then, though, I too am a yoga convert. Love it, love it, love it. It’s been really good for my depression, too. (In addition to my meds.)

  • Anomali

    2011/05/11 at 12:27 pm

    I had the same on and off pain in my lower back, and have had it for 8 or 9 years now. I was always told by my chiropractor and my regular doctor that it was my sciatic nerve, which made no sense to me based on my symptoms. Pain meds, massage, muscle relaxers, nothing worked. Then when I was pregnant with my son it came back with a vengeance, so my OB sent me to physical therapy where they discovered that it is actually a loose pelvic joint. That little tiny thing was responsible for excruciating pain, just like the pain you are describing. You might try getting checked to see if that could be it. Oddly enough, my physical therapy consisted of a TON of kegel exercises and some core toning techniques. It’s worth getting checked, I have had ZERO pain since I’ve kept up with my regimine. And the best part is, NO MEDS! Good luck, hopefully it’ll work itself out for you soon!

  • ChickWhitt

    2011/05/11 at 12:29 pm

    My husband regularly says that when I am going off the deep end too. “Did you take your medicine?”

    It’s like the new version of “Are you on the rag?”

    Especially since usually, no, I have not taken my medicine, and yes, I am on the rag, but neither of those things invalidate my feelings right now!!!!

    *milk gallon hurled across the room*

  • greenplanner

    2011/05/11 at 12:30 pm

    Oh dear Lord this brings back memories. At one point I had to call my doctor’s office from their parking lot so that they could bring me a wheelchair because I simply could not walk to the waiting room. I was in graduate school at the time and I have nightmares of trying to fold my poor body into a seated position in one of those school desks. I don’t blame you a bit for crying, meds or no meds. Being stranded by pain is no fun.

  • BryMayhew

    2011/05/11 at 12:31 pm

    Yoga is a good recommendation. I’ve been dealing with my back for about 7 months now. When I saw a doc about it, I could have sworn I had a pinched nerve or torn muscle.

    Turns out I have craptastic core strength. I’ve been working with my PT doing all kinds of crazy stuff to work on my balance and all of the muscles around my torso that don’t include my back muscles.

    It still hurts me at times, but I haven’t had a spasm in 3 months, and I was getting them several times a day.

  • bellamaxjoy

    2011/05/11 at 12:35 pm

    be very careful getting a massage when you are in the throws of back spasms. It can sometimes trigger the muscles to spasm more, and the toxicity of the lymph system emptying out can make the symptoms much worse, especially if you did not go home and drink allot of water. I like with daily back pain, and yes it does very much suck. I am an advocate of cortisone injections, they have helped me tremendously, and don’t let horror stories scare you, if you have a good dr, they will numb you up and it is not bad at all.

    And, oh bye the bye, up the pooper, really??? Lol!
    love the blog~

  • stalkingsarah

    2011/05/11 at 12:36 pm

    I have those kinds of back problems too. Yoga definitely helps, but you know what helps the most? Leaning over and touching my toes. I can’t always make it, but if I spend 5 minutes bent over, relaxing and breathing into my muscles, it helps prevent me from feeling strained all day.

  • CornFedGirl

    2011/05/11 at 12:38 pm

    I feel for you, as I have a 13 year old back issue that consistently has been flaring up, thus putting me flat on my back on the floor for days on end. I also have a small child that insists that I do shit like hold him all the time and he sits there like a 20 pound sack of flour (but a super cute one so he gets a pass). Hold on with your legs child!

    I have no advice for you, as I do yoga, chiropractic and massage, yet sometimes I unload a plate out of the dishwasher, or stand up from a seated position and suddenly my back is out. Good times. I’m 36. Can’t wait to see what I’m like at 76.

  • susanfishy

    2011/05/11 at 12:42 pm

    That sounds exactly like a herniated disk. I have been there. I prefer unmedicated labor over that pain!

  • Ena Murphy

    2011/05/11 at 12:42 pm

    I logged into my account just to leave you this comment. I also twittered you this info: BIKRAM YOGA!! Do it. NOW. Both you and Jon can benefit from it. Not just regular yoga. BIKRAM YOGA!!! There. I feel better now.

  • runkara2

    2011/05/11 at 12:48 pm

    Does anyone feel like Heather will definitely not appreciate the statements that she cannot beoomce the valedictorian of yoga? I fear she may try to prove y’all wrong on that:)

  • runkara2

    2011/05/11 at 12:49 pm

    I meant “become.”

  • teac77

    2011/05/11 at 12:52 pm

    Chiropractors and masseuses are great, but if they don’t relieve the pain, I would recommend going to a Myofascial Treatment Center, especially because this concerns a ten-year-old injury.

  • MJBUtah

    2011/05/11 at 12:56 pm

    Back spasms are silly things, mine started with laying a sheet over the couch. Seriously, a sheet. It weighed like 4 ounces. I felt like such a wimpy loser.

    No advice here, although according to my husband’s doctor because of the way anti-depressants work on the brain it makes pain register differently after having taken them for a long period of time.

  • jessiehartman

    2011/05/11 at 1:00 pm

    I agree that Yoga would help, but you might want to also try physical therapy.

    I too have a lower back problem that I have suffered on and off from for 20+ years (since I was 16). The issue would flare up when I did too much bending and stretching, and when I was pregnant – FORGET ABOUT IT – I could hardly move.

    In November I did too much in prep for Thanksgiving. It went out that night, but I slept on it and the next day felt ok, so I went through the kids toys. When I was done I could hardly move. It was to the point that I called my mother-in-law to come watch the kids and went to the doctor. He prescribed a muscle relaxer, some hydrocodone, and physical therapy. I only took the pills that night, and the next week I went to physical therapy.

    Let me tell you that it was the best thing that I ever did. She put me back in alignment, showed me exercises to do to put it back in when I needed to, and to strengthen the core, did some deep tissue massage (that REALLY hurt, but needed to be done), did some ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. I only ended up having to do 4 sessions total spaced over 7 weeks (didn’t go between Christmas & New Years).

    It turns out that I have a problem with my sacrum and the nerve can flare up and throw out the back.

    Get into yoga yes, but go see a physical therapist

  • virtualcarly

    2011/05/11 at 1:01 pm

    Have you ever heard of the Iyengar style of yoga? The gym is your religion and Iyengar Yoga is mine. For me, it helped me with my special brand of paranoid post-partum depression. However, most of the people in my classes are there to rehab old injuries. Some links if you are interested: http://www.iynaus.org/practice/search.php (not sure if there are any certified instructors in your area, but that link is how you find them)
    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=495236588215&oid=163605598865&comments (a video my instructor shared with us via FB-great for giving you an idea of what the practice is like)

  • paminmi

    2011/05/11 at 1:06 pm

    Oh honey, I feel your pain. What you described is just what I went thru a couple weeks ago; I was in pain for three weeks! Sometimes when I moved it felt like my legs would go out and I’d fall to the ground which made it hard to work, but I managed. Barely. And I’m a home health nurse so imagine how fun that must have been…

    What finally helped it to stop was using an ice pack. A lot. I froze the hell out of my back. I pretty much used it off and on all day and evening when I was home, only taking off when I couldn’t stand the cold anymore. And no, I didn’t get frostbite. 🙂 Anyway, I made mine homemade which was a cinch to do. I’m sorry to say I don’t have the recipe for the one I made but the link below has one that should work for you. Mine about 1/2 fills up a gallon ziplock bag which is just the right size to cover my lumbar back area. And I didn’t bother with the food coloring because who gives a shit about that. Well I don’t anyway. It seems firm when you take it out of the freezer but will conform to your contours, getting slushy after a while. And it stays cold a looong time. This thing’ll last a long time in your freezer. I’ve had mine for over a year and she’s still going strong.

    That beyotch was my BFF for about a week, I even took her in the car. And I made sure to wrap her in a towel before putting against my body, putting it over my clothes.

    Hope you feel better soon!


  • JourneyBeyondSurvival

    2011/05/11 at 1:13 pm

    Heather. Armstrong.

    You are awesome. I too have this problem, but am currently living in fear of the Spasm Day. My 50 year old back thanks you twenty years early for your Public Service. My daughter can’t walk (3yo w/ disabilities) and I am going to wait with baited breath for your results.

    I’ve already started. No brushing of my teeth after lunch.

  • Norabloom

    2011/05/11 at 1:27 pm

    Hope you feel better soon. There’s nothing quite like back pain to instantly make you feel like a helpless old lady, is there? I still remember suddenly having back spasms and falling to the ground and making those noises you describe. My husband found me at the top of the stairs, on my back with my legs curled up in the air and my hands in the claw position from the pain. He had to slide me along the wood floor into the bedroom, where I managed to make it into bed. I think what you’re doing – ibuprofen and ice – is the best thing to do, so I won’t offer any additional unsolicited advice! Hope you get some relief soon.

  • TanjaK

    2011/05/11 at 2:19 pm

    Uuuh, so sorry. Have been there several times. But I do have to second the reader who says that you should avoid massage during acute pain. It certainly will make the pain worse. I don’t know about the massage you had, but, and I don’t want to be rude here, I think a professional physiotherapist would have known not to give you a massage. I hope you get all better soon.

  • ooji

    2011/05/11 at 2:21 pm

    2 cents:

    acupuncture gave immediate relief for my back pain.

    also the book “Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection” by John Sarno.


  • KMJ

    2011/05/11 at 2:42 pm

    Agreed with Steph at UM. When your back seizes up like that, go to the doctor immediately (like, you could still go today) for a prescription muscle relaxer.

    I had a severe back seizure like that once. I have a high-deductible health care plan and had to eat the doctor’s appointment and Rx cost. I had to wait in the doctor’s office waiting room for 30 minutes/an eternity. It was worth it. SO worth it.

    Yoga, massage, exercise are all great for prevention. Ice packs and ibuprofen are great when your back starts feeling wonky. But nothing is going to solve acute, intense muscle pain like that as well as a prescription that’s manufactured with the singular, specific purpose of solving acute, intense muscle pain. Go now before it comes back!!

  • Funnygirl78

    2011/05/11 at 2:43 pm

    I am totally nodding my head in understanding, empathy and sympathy.

  • deege

    2011/05/11 at 2:51 pm

    My back was going out on a monthly basis, like clockwork, and turning into sciatica. MONTHLY. Ever had sciatica? It’s exactly like the worst contraction you can have during childbirth. Except, with every f**king step you take. Horrific.
    Frequency Specific Microcurrent got rid of the pain. And, I kid you not, the stretches I got a year ago from these guys, which I do every morning without fail, have kept my two bulging discs intact and my back hasn’t gone out once since:


    Then do yoga. Awesome for the body and mind. Namaste.

  • KateH

    2011/05/11 at 3:04 pm

    Back pain sucks. I’m so sorry you’re hurting.

  • Cherry

    2011/05/11 at 3:15 pm

    Can’t get past the fact that you used the word masseuse…I think twice even!

  • LindseyB123

    2011/05/11 at 3:46 pm

    As a physical therapist myself, I have to say I’m impressed with how many of your readers have already recommended PT! Smart cookies.
    Honestly though, it’s hard to say exactly what is wrong without seeing you. Based on what you’ve written I would imagine you’ve exacerbated an old disc herniation. A referral to the physiatrist and a good physical therapist should be able to help reduce the pain (and the likelihood recurrence of pain in the future). Good Luck!

  • VegasNative

    2011/05/11 at 3:46 pm

    Ugh. I’m just now recovering from a muscular inflammation *caused* by a massage. So be careful with that. Also, muscle relaxers. They are amazing, but of course, they get you soooooo totally high, so take that into consideration. Hope you feel better soon, my dear. I understand exactly what you’re feeling.

  • AmyLivinInNJ

    2011/05/11 at 4:40 pm

    Five years ago I would have read this post and been like “suck it up…how bad can that hurt. Then, like you, I picked up my daughter like I had done a million times before and BOOM, my back was out. Holy hell… I have never in my life felt such pain. Giving birth had nothing on how this felt. I remember at one point walking to the bathroom and with every step I took I was litterly blubbering it hurt so bad. The kicker was that I was 6 hours from getting on a plane to Puerto Rico without said kid for a girls only vacation. My mom who was visiting to take care of my daughter went into crisis mode and got me heavy duty pain killers and muscle relaxants and some how I got on the plane and then sat very very still in the Puerto Rican sun for a five days.

    I hope your pain ends soon.

  • Former Homecoming Queen

    2011/05/11 at 4:44 pm

    I have lots of little creaks and cracks in my 33 year old armor that at times plot to act up all together. Those are the days that I whine to my husband “I am DYYYING. I know I’ve said it before but I’m sure this time!” Like you, I’ve been lucky enough to find someone who deals with my special brand of crazy so he will just shake his head and ask what I need.

    Hopefully it’ll feel better soon and/or Marlo will make up her mind. =)

  • witchuponastar

    2011/05/11 at 4:45 pm

    Most chiropractors say no heat, and they’re right, sort of. Use those stick on heat pads like Thermocare (I like the generic Walgreens, but NOT the generic Walmart). They’re warm enough to keep everything flexible and moving but not hot enough to damage anything. I wear it 24/7 when my back is bad! Try it. Also, I love you. And you saved me. Thanks.

  • Tracye

    2011/05/11 at 6:37 pm

    I feel your pain. Back pain sucks.

    Years ago I had pain like this and my chiropractor said I had a bulging disc. I would lie down with this electromagnetic thingy on my back for 15-20 mins once a week and it went away. It happened from me lifting free weights incorrectly. And Heather, you know to bend at your knees right, not at your hips?

    Thank GOD for ibuprofen eh 🙂

  • karmadarling

    2011/05/11 at 7:09 pm

    I am also a devoted lover of both yoga and acupuncture for all kinds of muscle pain.

    Yoga for management, acupuncture while in the depths of despair. Two treatments will have you right as rain, I swear.

  • annegirl80

    2011/05/11 at 7:31 pm

    I had the same thing happen to me…been going on for about 10 years also. Bent over to pick up my 6 month old baby in the crib and POP! I could barely walk. I was literally on the verge of screaming the pain was so bad. I called my husband and work and made him take a half day vacation.

    I literally stood for a half hour holding my baby girl and my two year old tugging at my pants while my back seized and spasmed. He FINALLY got home and I laid down for three days….

    Chiropractors didn’t help.
    MRI degenerative disks
    They put me on anti-spasm meds and anti-inflammatory that did NOTHING!

    I started doing yoga and I haven’t had a problem since.

    Just wanted you to know, I totally feel your pain!!!! And the worst is having back pain with a toddler around!

  • Pandora Has A Box

    2011/05/11 at 8:09 pm

    I used to scoff at people who had back pain. Until my youngest child caused my back to go out. Two years later, my suggestions are a combination of yoga, Pilates (any core strengthening exercises), percocet, chiropractors, acupuncturists, gin and crying. I thought I’d gotten past all the back woes until my back went out last week because my husband was out of town on business and I had to hoist The Littlest Box…all 34 lbs of him.

    I’m sorry that you’re in pain. I wish I could say that there’s a cure-all, but really, the cure-all is having the kids grow up, get rich and send their poor, broken mothers to spas.

  • mook

    2011/05/11 at 8:13 pm

    I have had recently had some back issues myself and my Pilates instructor suggested I go see a physical therapist. I did and he was amazing and I am much better! Maybe try that next time rather than a chiropractor?

    And yes, getting older pretty much sucks! hrmphhh!

  • goddess

    2011/05/11 at 8:21 pm

    I’ve been through it all, up to steal rods and a plate in my back. Before trying anything you should first find out what is wrong. Get a diagnosis. Please. Then get appropriate treatment. You can make matters much worse if you think it’s one thing and it turns out to be another. Even with yoga and other natural/homeopathic remedies. Trust me, you want to err on the side of caution when it comes to your back. Living with chronic pain the rest of your life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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