[ Prayers and concern for our brother and sister kabayan in Davao City and environs. ]
THE FIRST TIME i felt the pain was when I was carrying a moderately heavy load, a half-bag (sack or supot) of product, between 5-10 kg I think.
Aray, ouch, not a sharp twinge of traumatic impact pain but rather a dull bag! of discomfort, more like a heavy knock between my upper thigh and buttocks, classically where sciatic nerve pain occurs. The pain wasn’t remarkable enough for me to cry out and complain the usual way I do (I’m a neurotic complainer), but it was enough for me to stop and take stock of the situation.
Now, that’s different. I don’t remember anything like it before, although I’m used to fatigue, bumps and bruises and other pains associated with specific events. This one happened out of nowhere, although at the time I had been performing a manual task.
The pain lessened somewhat after a break, one I took every two hours on this longish 12-hour night shift. (I’m assuming it was on nights because I do a night shift every other week now). But as soon as I resumed regular work and chores, the nagging pain returned.
The irony was (is), as long as I walked or even ran (except for the first few minutes, I always suffer a little stiffness coming from sitting or prone positions), I was fine. The pain, which now alternated between dull throbs in my upper thigh-buttock area (left leg only) and pinpricks on the lower thighs to upper legs, was most prominent when I was stationary, a position I now logically avoided at all costs.
But as we workers, Pinoy, OFW or otherwise, all know, work involves a thousand and one positions of the standing, sitting and mobile human body. We are forever finding new combinations of bodily activity to adjust to our multi-tasking, enhanced-activity, productivity-greedy jobs. We stretch, crouch, squat, half-sit, half-stand, kneel, crawl all the time, every hour of the day, without a second thought.
All of which is murder, one killing blow at a time, to our lower backs.
I can’t blame anyone for my suspected sciatica (suspected cuz it hasn’t been confirmed, but the signs are pretty clear). All my life, I’ve been abusing my body beyond reason, beyond repair. I remember staying awake 48 hours, smoking used butt of cigarets, and drinking alcohol well beyond my limits. But this was during my failed experiment with youth. The rest of my working life, my abuse has mostly been walking too much, standing too long, and spending too many days (nights) on physically exhausting extended shifts. My body is only responding to the wear-and-tear I’ve exposed it to.
I can still work normally, but I need to take regular breaks now, apply warm compresses to my back on those freezing Wellington nights, and use my days off for quality breaks. As any middle-aged person in his/her right mind should be doing.
The most important things I can do now regarding my pinched-nerve situation are specific stretching exercises that seem to relieve the pain and tightness in the area, rest whenever I can, and STAYING AWAY from the stationary, standing position.
If I can remember to do these simple things, then for the rest of my so-called life, I’m good. For now.
Thanks for reading and mabuhay!