My Story

IMG_0474I loved my dog Emma. She could do no wrong, and let me tell you what a lie that is. It’s all perception. That dog was so much work, but not in my mind. Love works that way.

Emma was 14 years old. We live in an apartment in San Francisco. All that means is that we don’t have a backyard and in order to get outside you have the choice of either going down the stairs or taking the elevator.

Emma could barely walk anymore. She usually had to lean against you to stay upright, and most of the time, mid-pee, you had to reach under her belly and lift her up a bit, because she would slowly sink to the floor. But it was no trouble. Why? Love.

IMG_0393Then one day she had a seizure. She recovered after about a day or so, but I think it gave her a bladder infection because she had to pee something like 16 times a day. That is not hyperbole.

So that meant leaning over at the waist to help her walk to the elevator. At the elevator, I had to keep one hand under Emma while reaching up to the elevator doorknob, flinging the door open, and then catching it with my foot to leave it propped open. The, there was an inside gate to the elevator. I had to slide that, then kick the other elevator door, leaving just enough time to slide Emma inside the elevator before the elevator door and gate crashed behind us.

Then to get to the front door of the building, I had to remain leaned over to guide her over the marbled floor that she would slip on. I would then open the front door of the building very similar to the elevator, save for the gate, thank God, but still have to first prop the door open with my foot and then kick it while Emma and I shooed through it.

Then we would walk maybe 5 or 6 steps to the tree she would pee on. Usually a lot of guidance was necessary.

cropped-IMG_0477.jpgThen do it all again to get back into the building.

Repeat 16 times.

There was also a lot of falling in the apartment. That meant bending over at the waist to lift her up.

Hmmmmm. I wonder why I have back pain?

So what happened first was I tore a ligament in my mid back (May 28th, 2012). T10-T11. I felt it as I was leaned over helping Emma. I vividly remember thinking “that’s not good.”  I went to the doctor two days later when I realized this was not resolving itself in any capacity. At first, he thought it was my low back. Cervical and lumbar problems are the most common. When I pointed to my mid back he was surprised.

First, I was told 2 weeks.

Then, 4-6 weeks.

Next, 3 months.

3 months hit … freak out time. Why wasn’t I better?

I went to an ortho/sports medicine doctor then. He told me not to worry. No one gets better with my type of injury until 4 months.


Then, the unimaginable happened. I went to a physical therapist (August 1, 2012) that was supposed to specialize in trigger point release. I was already seeing one physical therapist, but she did not specialize in this.

Worst mistake of my life.

The new physical therapist started putting me through some stretching exercises that I wasn’t accustomed to. I left after the visit and didn’t feel right. I suddenly couldn’t sit in chairs without a lot of pain, and I had new pain localized in my low back that I had never had before.

In my mind, my muscles were so tight in my mid back that my low back was strained to capacity already. Those motions were the camel’s back.

I now believe this was the first tear to my L5-S1 annulus.

This may have been part of the problem

This may have been part of the problem

I went on with this new pain for about 6-7 weeks. My sports medicine doctor said it was compensation. I wasn’t firmly on board with this theory, but I went along with it. I could still sit somewhat, not for long, maybe an hour or so, but man, did it feel like my back was splitting open.

At that 6-7 week mark I did myself in. I randomly had a nightmare. I was 35 years old. Not a kid. But, hey. I think I was so stressed-out over my back that it just happened.

I have the nightmare and I shoot up in bed. I feel my whole lower back rip. Muscles, ligaments, and that low spot pain. That created the annular tear that I am dealing with today.

Sept 17th, 2012. That is now my Day 1. Patient zero.


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