15 September 2009


I was stubborn, I didn't listen to my body. I thought it was a normal sprain, something that passes with time. Even after I suspected it to be sciatica, I hot headedly rushed back into teaching. That's the thing about fitness instructors - we believe in stretching beyond our limits in our quest to get fitter and inspire others to do the same.

That was probably why, 2 Fridays ago, I felt a sharp intense cramp in my lower back when I bent down to pick a sock off the floor. I had even bent my knees so it wasn't exactly bad posture but the intense pain told me, "This is serious, this is different." I struggled to stand up and paralyzed on the spot as I tried to breathe through the pain. Heart beating wildly, I sought to calm myself down, "I'll be fine, I'll be ok, this is just a normal cramp."

I slowly walked up to my room to do some stretching, as that's the best thing to do for cramps even though it hurts. But this time it only had a temporary effect as my whole left butt cheek area was burning with pain. I shuffled slowly to my father and told him I would need help going to the clinic. All the while worrying, "Will I be able to teach again?"

At the clinic the doctor gave me a painkiller jab and more pain pills to swallow at home. My perspective on western medicine is this: they're great in fixing many problems, but pain is not one of them. Pain killers reduce inflammation and numb the pain, but something wrong had to have happened, and no amount of medicine can fix that.

In the afternoon Dad drove me to a Chinese traditional massage centre. Tit ta (literally, "iron hit" in Cantonese) , though I don't know why it's called that. It was my first time doing this, so I had my reservations but the situation was too dire to worry about the sifu's qualifications. The waiting room was already full of injured persons, and I took my number (22!). I waited for about 90 minutes before being called in, and the sifu proceeded to work his magic.

He immediately identified the errant nerve (or muscle?) that was swollen and cramped up. Surprisingly, though the pain is in my lower back, the problem was in between my butt cheek and my hamstring. The moment he started stroking that area - wow! - I knew it was the right spot. The session lasted about 30 minutes and RM40, and I felt an immediate improvement. Before treatment I was inching forward like an 80 year old. After treatment I was shuffling about like a 60 year old. Amazing, if you ask me!

I stayed in bed for the rest of Friday and Saturday, as any movement reminded me of the cramp. I was more mobile on Sunday, and it got progressively better after that. However, as of this moment, 12 days after the injury, there's still a little nagging tightness/soreness. I allocate 20 minutes before bed and after waking to do stretching, but I'm slightly worried about the persistent discomfort.

I am taking an extended break from teaching or participating. Will I be able to teach at 100% again? I'm worried, but this is just another hurdle in life. And there's only 2 ways about it: give up or jump over it. I'm jumping!


William said...

The urge to self-diagnose and self-medicate is always there huh?

Jaded Jeremy said...

Wise to see doctor if it persist after a few days.

Zemien said...

William: Yes! In house clinic won't refer me to specialist unless pain persists for 2 weeks. Even if I visit one, I can't stand the endless waiting for tests. Unlike Grey's Anatomy, diagnosis doesn't happen in 1 commercial break.

JJ: Thanks for dropping by! Thankfully it's just a dull discomfort after sitting for long. Doctors can hardly do anything about *that*...

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