Back Protocol – 1999 Version (Pre-op and far from reality)

Helpful info for the owners of faulty spines.

(Pinched nerves, herniated discs and arthritic lower backs.)

The Protocol: What to expect once the back goes out.

First thing, drop everything, grab your pills and lay flat on the floor if possible / practical. If you cannot get horizontal immediately, get medication and get yourself home.

Day 1 – 0 to 24 hours

Bed for the first 24 hours, no exception. By bed, I mean a firm yet giving, soft yet supportive surface such as a bed or a couch. Not under any circumstances a hard floor or a hammock or waterbed. Medication and rest are the keys to the first 24 hours and will provide a solid foundation for a recovery of days rather than weeks. You should take 2 Arthrotec (or whatever appropriate anti-inflammatory you have been prescribed) immediately, 2 three hours later and 2 four hours after that. Then, depending on timing, take one before bed. Yes, it is enough to kill a horse, but it works.

Day 2 – 24 to 48 hours

A full day of rest, expect to be extremely sore through the midsection, across the shoulders and to have major spasm attacks down the back. Do not attempt to leave the house, and continue with at least 1 pill every 4 hours. Do not eat too much, the pills will make it very hard to keep anything inside and will give you major stomach cramps. You will fart a lot. Oh, and there are no ninjas outside your window trying to get in.

Day 3 – 48 to 72 hours

On the third day he shall rise…

Get up early, concentrate on spending short periods on your feet  (5 to 15 minutes) with long rest periods (30 to 45 minutes) in between. This includes collecting dishes and putting them in the dishwasher. Also collecting garbage or other miscellaneous items from around the house. This does not include trips to the mall to spend the day shopping. It does not include getting in a car to go anywhere… That is a guaranteed extra days recovery. Nor does it include organized events, lunch appointments OR A RETURN TO WORK!!! Medication should only be taken if absolutely necessary, you should be able to survive with Advil (3 at a time).

Day 4 – 72 hours onwards

This is the earliest possible return to work and should include a concerted effort not to sit for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Advil should be on the list and also you should be back to the gym if not to do weights then at least to do some cardio to get the toxins washed out. You should be at the gym at least 3 days straight, preferably 4 then one day off.

Things to keep in mind for patient and relatives / loved ones

The medication is extremely strong, the side effects include massive dehydration, extremely painful stomach cramps, nausea, loss of all sexual drive, a foreboding sense of paranoia and a loss of anything remotely resembling a sense of humour. For the patient, bear in mind that the police or the government are not out to get you, there are no people wandering around your back yard or people staring in your windows. Everyone is not against you and most people can understand how much pain you are in without you having to expound upon it ad nauseum. Everyone knows you are in pain, but they have other things to do.

To the care giver, sorry. Really, people in this kind of pain are not pleasant, especially when they start getting paranoid and delusional. It’s just not a pretty sight. However, by the third day they should emerge from under the curtain a much more pleasant and humble individual. But they will smell pretty bad. Oh, and thank you, this is not easy, but believe me it is better being you than being the one who is feeling like they were blindsided by the Amtrak Express to Talahassee.

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