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Dealing with debilitating injury
I feel for you, been there more than once.

The last time my back went out it was from picking up a coffee cup. Seems impossible. I could move around with pain but just driving to the store up the street was torture. I thought I was going to need to forget going to a motorcycle gathering that I go to every year because it is a five hour drive. After giving it a week to get better with no improvement I made a visit to my Chiropractor for an adjustment. Three days later I made the drive to the event and return plus slept in the back of my truck for three days. That was two years ago and I have had no recurrence.

Most people have an opinion on Chiropractors and I am wary of the ones with rooms of electronics and lasers that say they can cure asthma.... Dr Norm that I go to is old school, a chart of the spine on the wall and a bench in the middle of the room. He has been a life changer for me, my mom and many of my friends.

Best of luck in your speedy recovery.

"We're all bozos on the bus, so might as well sit back and enjoy the ride."

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For me it was l4-l5 and l5-s1 disc herniations. All because I bent over to pick a towel of the floor. Took almost an hour to get out of bed to wiz. I went to the doc specifically to get a referral to a surgeon to cut me. Seriously. I could not live like that. He got the MRI results that the chiropractor ordered and immediately wrote three scripts: Vicodin, flexeril and prednisone. Two days later I was back on the floor managing the bar again. In a lot of pain and for years but I could get out of bed and walk around. And wipe my butt. I swear all the walking and hiking I did helped get the muscles stronger and realign my back. And incidentally, the chiropractor (a beautiful young lady) told me exactly this: 'do not bend and twist, I don't care if it is a f@€%ing pencil (she had a pencil in her hand), don't bend and twist'. Words to live by.

Oh and supposedly the Vicodin relieves the pain while the flexeril relaxes the muscle spasms so the bones and discs realign and the prednisone reduces the swelling which takes the disc off the nerve. Doesn't work for everybody but it did for me. Thank god.
I don't just ride the short bus... I'm the driver!Cool
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Good to see a chiro doc telling you to not do movement to protect you while healing. My girlfriends chiro cut the walking distance down to two miles for my girlfriend while her foot heals. She was doing six miles.
Cool “Get busy living or get busy dying.” - Stephen King in his novel Shawshank Redemption
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Dealing with pain while living in a van can be a bummer. Especially if you don't have a toilet inside. I dread the days when my back goes out (a few bad injuries over the years). Luckily it only happens a couple times a year. I'm pretty much stuck in bed for 3-7 days when it occurs. I tried chiropractors a few times without success. Same with drugs. Seems it just take time and being motionless to get over the pain.
What's worse is dealing with arthritis and a knee with no cartilage every day. Movement is lubrication for the joints, so exercise helps with the arthritis. However my knee often puts a stop to my exercise. Too bad I don't have three magic wishes.
Remember the family reunions where all the old relatives would sit together and talk about their aches and pains? Lol I'm 53 and already belong in that group. Not really, I don't complain much. Most of my family and friends have no idea what I am going thru. They just think I'm an eccentric who likes to live cheap in my van and be a slacker. Of course, I am that, too. Smile
I love a broad margin to my life- Henry David Thoreau
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I am so sorry to hear you are in such pain, both physically and mentally. Worrying about your health and the future is scary. I've been there. I'm glad you have family around. I hope they are the kind of people who help with problem solving instead of using this opportunity to tell you what they would do instead of trying to be in your shoes and think what you could do.

It's actually because of a debilitating illness that I realized I could fulltime in a van and I'm making it a reality. Several years ago I was struck with an illness that left me in a wheelchair, needing help to go to the bathroom or do anything at all much to care for myself. It wasn't a back problem but more of a muscle problem. Coming on the heels of my husband having disc problems where it would lay him out like you're describing, it was very scary.

I think Patrick and others have given you great advice, and more importantly hope, that you can recover. You may need to make some adjustments to how you do things and it will be frustrating to not have the body you once thought you had but you can make it. Not just getting by but thriving. I've worked myself out of a wheelchair to the point that most people upon meeting me wouldn't know I had any issues. I still do and I try to live within my current envelope and just push it a little at a time. When I push to much my body lets me know.

Back to why being ill (or injured) led me to believe I could make this lifestyle work for me. Not being able to move much without help I kept things that were essential close to me. So I lived in my bed with all that was important around me. I got through my days. At first I was scared when I was alone-what would happen if I needed something? As things came up I made adjustments. And most days I worked at getting better. I didn't even know what was wrong (still don't really-docs give different labels, aka diagnosis, does nothing to help or hinder my everyday life). Once I realized this was my new reality, at least for a while, I realigned my goals to meet my new reality, also knowing that that reality could change in the future.

I had heard about vandwelling before I got sick. Looking out my windows at the ugly scenery I thought, 'if I was living in a van I could be someplace beautiful right now.' Realizing that and how to function with what I needed around me and putting the extraneous stuff out of my way along with my knowledge that I liked smaller spaces, an idea began to form about how I could live in a van and be very happy. Not having to move very far to cook a meal or go to the bathroom can be a blessing. Plus there is less to clean. You have to clean more often and be organized but overall less to clean than most apartments and houses.

Overall, I think what you are feeling is FEAR about the future. It's normal but realize it will hold you back and can impede your ability to make good decisions for YOU. Recognize the fear, get more information about your situation, try a few different scenarios to help yourself (this works, that doesn't) and make decisions later. Making life changing decisions in the middle of a crisis (health, financial, personal, or otherwise) may be needed but doesn't usually lead to the best decisions.

Be creative. I've read a lot of your posts and I see that you are. You will find ways to make your life work. Be courageous. Not many things, if anything, in this life is guaranteed. We like to think that things won't change but they always do. You've accomplished dealing with change and hardship in the past to have gotten where you are. Be resourceful. You are by reaching out to ask for ideas that you aren't seeing know. Keep that up. Just be and breathe. One thing I've learned from being in periods of constant, can't think of anything else kind of pain for long stretches at a time is that focusing on this moment, not the past, not the future but getting through this moment-it takes skill. That skill can be developed and it takes practice. Soon other things can come to the forefront of your mind other than the pain. Focus on those. Then the moment is gone and you're on to the next moment. You notice a beautiful color. then the next moment arrives. You hear a bird chirping or a child laughing. Then the next moment is here.

I hope you are feeling better soon.

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The following 2 users say Thank You to gypsychic for this post:
akrvbob (12-25-2014), VanLifeCrisis (12-24-2014)
For getting in and out of the van a stool is good. You can use a milk crate even. Tie a rope to it and hang on when u get in so you can pull it up and put it on passenger seat. Home depot has long handle reachers that you can use to pick stuff up. Also, ice ice ice that back fpr first two weeks. Ibuprophen can also help with swelling that come from any tissue trauma.
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I'm sort of an old hand on back trouble. I have the bend and twist problem and the back goes out. I know after that raising a leg to get into a van is awful. If that isn't enough I also broke my back in a 20 foot fall from a steel roof. My suggestion is to get one of those heavy duty dog ramps and fasten it to the inside floor so you can flip it out easy and walk into the van. Or just sit on the edge swing in and put a few hand grabs around to get yourself up off the floor.

Sorry to hear about your back I can sympathize.
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Another thing that I just remembered is that I started using one of those mesh lumbar supports while driving and it seems to help. Shaped like a big potato chip.

"We're all bozos on the bus, so might as well sit back and enjoy the ride."

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Thanks for all the great advise. I definitely could stand to lose a lot of weight and exercise more. Right now im just trying to prevent a spasm by limiting movement for a while. Today i returned to the van, had to drive about an hour to get back near my work, and the driving was ok, especially once i was on the interstate. My seat are the captain chair type so they are comfy. But when i got out, man, i felt like i was beaten with a stick. I had to sit in the slider doorway a few minutes just from lumbering around the van. Of course someone pulls right in beside me and stairs at the mess inside my van. It was a little embarassing as i choose the crawl in and pull myself onto bed. I would probably made it without a big spasm but someone in my family took every tool, tool bag, clothes bag and box i had stored under my bed and place on top of my bed while they were looking for something. So yea, getting that off was painful. I also lost my phone charger during all that. I think if everything was where i usually had it things would be easier cause most everything would be within reach.

Well at least i had a pretty good nap as i was exhausted. You would think moving so much less wouldn't make you so tired but doing anything puts me down lol I'm at work now, hopefully no one makes me get up, at least its a holiday so not many customers.

Im just praying i get stronger every day and dont relapse back to non movement. There is no one to cover my shift tomorrow except this one nice lady, who had plans with her new grand baby, so just making it that long would be good. I could even take a week off after if i was willing to give up the pay...

My van actually has running board/step on them but i do not trust it with any weight. I tell people not to step on it. I might try a step of some kind with the rope trick in the future.
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Be gentle with yourself as you are healing, only pushing the envelope of what you're able to do by a little bit every day, if at all possible. People are often surprised by how tiring healing can be. Give your body the best that you can so it can heal. Good nourishing food, rest and lots of laughter go a long way.

Be careful if you get meds from the doctors. I'm not one to say don't take pain meds. Just realize that pain is a way to help you to not keep further injuring yourself. If you take vicodin, flexeril and prednisone-pretty standard for disc issues, you'll probably feel 10-100x better after a day or two. Just try to remember that your body is still healing and not make it worse.

I'm glad to hear that you're at a better functioning level. Sorry to hear you're working Christmas eve but like you said it probably won't be too busy so maybe that's a blessing in disguise.

Merry Christmas!

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