9.26.2012

Freelancing and calling in sick....

Nothing sucks worse than coming down with whatever sore throat, grungy thing your kid had last week and then throwing your back out while struggling to find the clementine that rolled over by the refrigerator at six o'clock in the morning. Addled with lack of sleep you bend over at the waist to pick up the errant fruit and all of a sudden your lower back goes KAPOW! and you feel like you're never going to walk again.  And that's the easy part. The hard part is rescheduling the shoot you had booked for 2:30 pm at Esther's Follies because you know they've been looking forward to it and I've been looking forward to it and they've had lighting people and actors and magicians booked and ready to go since last week.

If you're a cube pilot or and engineer or a banker you get to pick up the phone and-----call in sick. Someone covers the slack for you and if anyone feels like giving you crap about staying home you can unleash the HR goons on em.  And generally calling in sick means that you still get paid and  still get all the goodies that go with your job, wherever it may be on the totem pole.

Around here everything wants to grind to a halt but once you cancel you can't replace the lost income from today. It's gone like mayonaise left out on that picnic table in the August sun. So I'm getting a friend to help reconfigure my computer so I can work standing up. At least I can try to get those 36 portraits on my to do list that need post production/retouching scheduled and pumped out today.

So, here's the drill:  Blow nose, cringe at back pain, blow nose again, cringe at back pain. Look desperately to see if anyone has any left over pain relievers beyond Tylenol.  Work on file. Repeat.

I can wade through the scratchy throat and the sniffles but feel free to send me your magic cures for lower back pain----the nemesis of working (and aging photographers). I need to work through this one with a certain amount of expediency, I have a three day conference that starts on Sunday and will keep me moving for 12 hours a day and today's shoot, rescheduled for next Weds.

Please don't bother to tell me I need three weeks of bed rest in the Bahamas. My private jet is out for repairs and I can't bear the thought of flying coach...

Seriously, miracle cures?

44 comments:

Mike said...

If your back pain is muscle related, try SalonPas. I get then at Costco. They are a Bengay-type stick-on heat patch with an analgesic in it that will help loosen you up. I keep some in my golf bag and camera bag, and they have saved the day many times. Just don't take Ibuprofen at the same time.

The other thing is to lay on the floor on your back and put your feet/calves on a standard chair with your knees bent at about 90 degrees. This will relieve some of the pressure on your back.

Jack, dit la lanterne rouge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

No magic cure, sorry. But good wishes for a speedy recovery.

John Krumm said...

Sounds like you are doing what many doctors advise anyway... take it a little easier but keep going, and wait for the too slow body to heal. Been a while since I've had severe back pain. Sounds like you don't don't quite have the "crawl and cry" variety, but if you do, then a doctor is in order, at least for some strong muscle relaxants and pain pills.

Michael Bowman said...

The combination of using the GoFit roller (http://www.gofit.net/foam-roll.php) on my back and ThermaCare heat usually does the trick for me.

Roller is available online and at many stores including Target.

You put the roller on the floor, lay back on it and then roll up and down your spine.

It makes quite a difference for me.

Good luck!

wjl (Wolfgang Lonien) said...

Awww that sucks. Didn't have anything back-related yet, so I can't help, but seeing a doctor would be a good idea, no? Anyway: get better soon!

Mike said...

The cure for back pain is back exercise.

Lenard Burgess said...

For lower back problems, ice packs on 15 off 30 minutes plus massive doses of ibuprofen (800 - 1000 mg) works wonders. I have had these issues for 10 years.

Low Budget Dave said...

Actually, there are some Chiropractors who do a very good job with back pain. It is a temporary solution, but that is all you need.

If it is upper back pain, then you can lay down and put a soft ball, like a half-deflated soccer ball directly below the pain, and then stretch as many directions as you would normally stretch.

If it is lower back pain, that will not work. About the only thing you can do is heat packs and ibuprofen. You can take quite a bit more than the dose listed on the bottle, but you have to talk to a doctor.

Anonymous said...

Lenard is right. Ice and ibuprofen for lumbar back/muscle strain. Also, try moderate movement/stretching several times per day. Warm shower in the evening before bed, but several ice applications during the day. Normally takes 2 - 3 weeks for light - moderate strain. Good luck.

Paul van Geldrop said...

Hi Kirk,
Me personally never like taking pain killers. But when my back goes 'ploink' I do this exercise called Cats and Dogs. See http://suite101.com/article/cats-and-dogs-exercise-prevent-injuries-in-tennis-and-racquetball-a232783

I guess there is no need to tell you that you need to do it slowly. Focus on your breathing while relaxing your muscles.

What also helps is lying on your back before your sofa. Your feet and lower legs on your sofa supported by some pillows to make all the angles 90 degrees (back <-> upper legs and lower <-> upper legs). Place your arms and hands beside your body, flat on the ground.
You'll notice that you wont be able to have your back flat on the ground because all your muscles are too tense. Make very slow and small tilting movements (I don't know how to describe it, but since you have a son and should recognize the movement) with your pelvis. This will stretch and relax your lower back muscles.
When you're done, bored or feeling finished...slowly rotate to the side. Getting up with back problems is worth a real scientific study.

Hope you feel better soon and good luck.

neopavlik said...

Stretching, swimming, yoga, hot shower.

Terry said...

Well all the other comments are good, but no one mentioned going to a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT). These people are trained in anatomy, massage, and are state licensed (have to pass a state board examination). They can work miracles usually charge reasonable rates. Around Cincinnati the rate is about $70.00 per hour. Usually a half hour will do the trick for a localized problem.

Dave Jenkins said...

I've lived with this for many years. Did you know you can take Tylenol and Advil at the same time?

When I was doing weddings I would take one Tylenol and two Advil before I started. After six hours I would take two Tylenol and one Advil. Made all the difference in the world.

Anonymous said...

For lower back muscle strain you use ICE and Ibuprofen to minimize the swelling and associated pain. Together these increase the chances you'll remain active enough to continue to move about and stretch. After a day or two you really have to get up and about, doing easy stretching to avoid muscle atrophy. Periodic heat is OK, but the ICE is key to recovery. I just recuperated from this, myself.

Reese Allen said...

Just got turned on to your blog...THANK YOU!
I feel you pain. It is always amusing when you explain to a medical professional you have back issues, and see the puzzled look? I suppose the perception of hanging out with fashion models and having someone hand you a camera, hold your latte and carry all your gear comes to their mind?
Feel better brother and keep the rants coming!

Anonymous said...

For your cold--take very good care, bed rest, lots of fluids, chicken soup and you can nock it out in about 7 days. Ignore it and it will last a solid week.

arg said...

Ice packs for the first 48 hours, then hot packs. The ice stems the bleeding in the muscle so a smaller scar forms. The heat then speeds recovery.

A time machine would indeed be a miracle and would indeed cure it, so I suppose it qualifies as a miracle cure.

Kirk Tuck said...

If I had a time machine........ I swear I'd get it right this time...

atmtx said...

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Kirk Tuck said...

Thanks, A.

George said...

I agree with Michael Bowman. Whenever my back went out (which happened almost as often as the latest must have camera comes out) I used to wince over to my closest pharmacy and get a Thermacare wrap for my back. I later just started buying in bulk at my local Costco. I also use Alieve for back pains. Here on the east coast where it is not perfect weather all the time like you have in Austin I can a least tell when the weather is changing with my back. Anyway, I sincerely wish you a speedy recovery. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog.

Frank said...

Believe it or not.... swimming! Helps my back pain a lot. Can start slowly and the body seems to automatically do more as the muscles, ligaments, etc., slowly stretch without pain or conscious effort. I was kicked in the back by a horse a number of years ago- cracked rib, bruised kidney, extensive muscle damage and bruising (almost killed me- literally). Recovery was slow and took months. Still had much pain and severely restricted movement until (out of desperation) started swimming laps- slowly, delicately at first. Very quickly, things began to automatically "loosen up" and stretch. Made more progress in a couple of weeks than the previous 3 months combined. Still have the partial imprint of a horse hoof in my back 20+ years later! Probably not the suggestion you wanted right now, but some slow- paced, relaxing laps might help (perhaps with a little aspirin on board). Like you say- "Back in the pool!". Good luck! (Enjoy the blog. I know it's a long comment so don't feel the need to post it, just hope the suggestion provides some benefit.) Frank

Michael Ferron said...

What goes up must come down. I suggest a good Chiropractor. They can re-adjust the back and align things the way they once were.

latent_image said...

I've been through the lower back thing big time, to the point where I had to relearn how to walk because of severe sciatica. I second the suggestion to see a registered massage therapist. They can provide major symptom relief in a short time. Since you're a swimmer, gentle swimming also sounds like a good idea. It's all about getting muscles that are in spasm to relax. I personally avoid drugs if I can. NSAIDs like Ibuprofen can wreck your stomach, and then you'll have two sources of misery. If you must take NSAIDs, take them with food!

jason gold said...

Wishing you quick recovery.Bear the pain, make the money!
I's never easy being a true Leader. Go get 'em Tiger.

Mike said...

A hot shower in the morning (as hot as you can stand) followed by ice. 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off as often as you can. Good luck. No fun. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

John said...

Very hot shower in the morning. After 5-10 minutes of water blasting on your back, place your feet about 12" apart and try to touch your toes. Hooooooold it. Once you return to standing position, arch your back backwards. Spread legs as wide as you can go. Touch left fingers to right toes and vice versa. It will be very painful the first couple of days, but not as painful as doing nothing.

Swimming is excellent, but since I can't swim- WALK! At least two miles per day until you recover.

I second the SalonPas- the small patch version works wonders.

Best wishes.

Bold Photography said...

I also threw my back (early in my marriage.. what a test THAT was!). No fun, and lots of pain. I did ultimately end up at a chiropractor, and one of the things they did was electrical stimulation - I still have the 'stim' device along with a number of the electric pads - those things allowed me back on my feet...

Steve Miller said...

I have a herneated (sp?) disk between L3 and L4. Sounds about the same area as your lower back pain. My back was bad for about six weeks this summer from a series of "clementines under the fridge". I definitely recommend chiropractic and massage as part of a long-term solution (and a good foam roller). However, while my episodes normally last for only a couple of days, I couldn't shake this one.

I finally went to a sports doctor and went on a five-day course of prednisone. It relieved the pain and spasms in only one day, seriously. I was amazed at how much it helped me. It won't save you for today's shoot, but if you can get to a doc later today, your 3-day shoot should be saved.

Good luck and feel better.

Steve (the swimmer with the hardware in his shoulder)

David I said...

Acupuncture. AOMA clinic on Anderson Lane between Burnet and Shoal Creek. I can't take ibuprofen or aspirin and acupuncture really helps. Splurge for instructor but student clinic is a bargain too.

Mike W said...

Dear Kirk - Firstly commiseration's regarding your bad back - have been a martyr to mine for years - though would recommend a good physio and when it eases take up Pilates - works wonders.

Just a mischievous thought - but this back problem wasn't caused by that "interesting" looking back pack you bought recently, was it? and filling it with those massively heavy Sony s wouldn't help :).

I love your blog - thank you for taking the time and effort - it has made a real difference to me.

Kirk Tuck said...

Okay. I'm on the mend here. Thanks for all the on and off line ideas and advice (some of it sounds really hard won...). I went with Advil, Ice Packs and mandatory rest time (mindless post processing) at my newly elevated workstation. My flu-like symptoms exited quickly and all I'm left with now is a little cough that likes to menace my back and remind me to stand correctly when coughing. On to new stuff.

rgonet said...

See a chiropractor. They work wonders. I've used them for 40 years whenever I suffer a setback (pun intended) like yours.

Richard Alan Fox said...

Trip insurance?

amy said...

Feel better Kirk!

Marshall said...

Late to the party, but sharing what helps me...

Ugh. Back problems suck. And I'm glad you're on the mend. Any reasonable stretching is good, but before real activity with a lower back problem, it is very helpful to stretch all the way to top of the hamstrings, where tightness can directly connect to lower back aggravation. (Most hamstring stretches stretch the big part of the hamstring.) Once you can do it again, there are three that I find most useful:
1. In a lunge position, take the elbow that is on the same side as the forward leg and get it down inside the leg. This, done right, should stretch all the way to the top.
2. On your back, with your arms out to the side, bring your right foot up to your left hand and then your left foot up to your right hand. This shouldn't be done *fast*, precisely, but it's a dynamic stretch, not a slow stretch. Fantastic for warm-up before any activity, but also helps when you just feel tight at the base of the back. You can do this face-down, too, which also can help a bit, but it is harder to do before the back feels reasonably ok.
3. Not sure how well I can explain this one a massage therapist taught me, because it's a two-person stretch. With you on your back, someone else brings your knees up. You're now in a loose tuck (sorry!), and the other person can push your legs down (from the shin, more or less) and roll them slowly around. This may get directly at the lower back area to help loosen it, and it's pretty much impossible to do entirely on your own.

Of course, when it's acute, it's not really much of those (especially not the first), but maybe some of that will help you get back to full activity. I'm sure you already know how to stretch pretty effectively since you're well above standard weekend-warrior physical activity. Mostly, though, I hope you feel back to being yourself soon.

Brad C said...

I literally feel your pain on this one - I've been slowly working through back pain for 8 weeks now.

As an engineer I have the same problem when I have field work lined up - no one is covering me if I need to call in sick when I have a site visit planned :) Does anyone have a job these days outside the retail industry where your work doesn't just pile up while you are sick?

Hope the back improves quickly!

Steve J said...

Broke my back 3 years ago, and luckily recovered, but with frequent back pain caused by muscle atrophy (4 months in a body brace) and general mechanical damage to ligaments and cartilage.

After it healed and I was put of the brace, and although I had a good quality orthopaedic mattress which I had slept soundly on for 3 years previously, I would wake up every night, around 4am, with intense back pain. I had to get up, sit upright in a chair and stretch for 30 mins, and then go back to bed. Every month or two I would get longer term back pain and since I cannot take neurophen, there was little I could do to get temporary relief except ice packs. I really thought that was it for life.

On the advice of my sister in law (a top physiotherapist) I took an elementary course in pilates and bought a top quality memory foam mattress. 20 mins pilates each morning and 8 hours painless sleep every night and the last year has been more pain free than the previous 20. As preventative measures, as well as for speeding up recovery from a strain, I thoroughly recommend both.

Note, it takes a month or so to adjust to memory foam, but when you do - oh boy.

Anonymous said...

It makes me laugh when people say they want to be their own boss, have their own business. When you have your own business all of your customers are your boss.3

As for low back pain I'm in the ice and ibuprofen camp and walking camp, works for me at least. I'm 63 and the first time I got into real trouble I was only 26. I came up out of a easy chair fast and it felt like someone knifed me between L3 and L4. After that I have been real careful but sometimes that is not enough to prevent an episode.

For colds I used to take a double dose of the 'OLD' Nyquil, it was 50 proof hooch and it would lay you out pretty. Slept like a baby. The stuff they sell now is for sissy's.

John Robison

John Caradimas said...

The magic word for lower back pain: massage.

Thank God my wife is a massagist! She has straightened me up more than once, thank God.

Anonymous said...

the best long term cure for back pain: go to a yoga class.

Anonymous said...

And do what? Photograph the beautiful women?

Ravi Bindra said...

What you need is a wee French lass called Stephanie who lives in Switzerland so you'll have to fly her over.

She is a kinesiologist. What this means is you stand in front of her with neck pain. She pulls your fingers, makes you raise your arms, pokes you in the hips and tells you that you twisted your knee. She then treats your ankles, knees and hips after which your neck feels much better. The bad part is, this releases the toxins in your body and you will have a cold afterwards, even in the middle of summer.