Yesterday I went to see OsteoDude. He's fixed me twice before, so I have a fair bit of faith in his abilities.
I've already had back x-rays which came up clear and ruled out any obvious mechanical problems. The next step, according to OsteoDude, is to work out whether it's a less obvious mechanical problem or a chemical one.
Chemical one? WTF?
Well, yes. Apparently there's more than one way for pain to get painy. One is the usual disc out of line, arthritic growth type pressing on nerves and stuff. This is mechanical. The other is where certain chemicals that cause inflammation build up in your muscles or joints during periods of inactivity, so that being still for a long time makes it hurt. This is chemical - and OsteoDude seems to think this is the most likely for me because I'm waking up with it, and movement tends to alleviate it somewhat, and also because I have good range of motion generally and am still able to do things like acro.
So the suggested diagnostic tool is Voltaren (diclofenac for those of you not in NZ). I have to take them at night with dinner, the idea being that if the diclofenac works and I wake up with no pain, it shows that my pain is related to night-time (stillness) inflammation. I'm to do this for four days then stop taking them, and if he's right then the pain should come back.
Once this has been done, then we know it's a chemical thing and the next step is a blood test for rheumatoid arthritis. Eek. OsteoDude says this seems unlikely given my general level of strength, flexibility and fitness, and the fact that there's no evidence of stiffness anywhere else. Unfortunately, if it's not that then the most likely explanation is a drop in estrogen levels messing with my body's general ability to regulate itself - yes, what that means is perimenopause.
Fuckity. I am not ready for that yet. I have mentioned once or twice that I've noticed a scary-ish precursor to the return of the migrainey stuff I had at puberty, along with the occasional flare of OCD, which is something else that happened to me as an adolescent. I figured it was probably related to body changes as I get older. But somehow this is different. Probably because there's no denying it - it fucking hurts and affects my life and I have to see doctors about it and take stuff and ..
.. I'm probably getting ahead of myself. But you know, it seems like the most likely explanation of the ones I've been given. And yes, the Voltaren worked last night. I woke up with no pain. There's some now, and I don't know how that relates to what we discussed. I will persist and see what happens next.
But of course I did spend some time reading about perimenopause and what to expect, and basically freaked myself out. Not just the thought of having to deal with ongoing back pain, which is pretty scary but manageable. It's the other stuff. The stuff about losing muscle mass and diminished libido. I know that most people say hot flushes are a thing, but I don't really care about temporary discomfort - not in relation to the potential for losing things that form part of my identity.
I know I have to accept that things are going to change and there's nothing I can do about that. But my sexuality and my level of activity are such a big part of who I am, and the idea of those things slowly slipping away against my will scares the crap out of me.
"It may not happen like that." It's what I'm telling myself. Other women get hot flushes, I get OCD. Other women lose their libido, I get back pain. This will be my mantra. And if I stay as active as possible, there's no reason I can't keep on doing exactly what I'm doing for as long as I choose to do it, right?
So I'll keep taking the Voltaren and get the blood test and prepare myself to be told Welcome To Your Forties, Have A Nice Freakout, and meanwhile I'll keep doing bloody handstands because fuck you, estrogen. You don't rule me.
For those who don't give a crap about that, have a thing grist made. He's been experimenting with creating high-voltage electrical arcs in a vacuum. Turns out they are very pretty:
His latest vid is with 21k. Ooooooo!