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Pain. Huge, fiery, burning gobs of pain.

That’s what’s hanging off of my shoulders at the moment. I don’t think I’ve hurt this badly since the last gall bladder attack that sent me for codeine – and that was about nine years ago. And what, pray tell, has inspired this sensation, you wonder? (At least, I assume you wonder, since you’re still reading this.)


An exercise surely conceived of in the nether portions of the Pit, because otherwise it wouldn’t inspire this degree of torture. Let me back up a ways, and fill in some history. We have trees. Lots and lots and lots of trees. We have a Cape Cod style house with a leeeeetle TINY back yard, and the rest of the almost-acre is trees. The former owners also had (for the space available) fairly extensive garden beds, some of which I intend to keep. Last fall, someone-who-shall-remain-nameless-to-protect-the-guilty-but-I’m-married-to-him swore up down and sideways that he was going to go pick out a leaf blower so that I wouldn’t have to deal with that much raking. Especially since the oak trees seem to hold their leaves right up until the first snow.

See where this is going?

Yeah. Leaf blower was never purchased. By the time I’d given up and got out there to rake, the winter had caught up to me. So ALL of last year’s leaves are plastered on the patch of what will be lawn, the sides of the driveway, and the gardens. "Matted" might be a good word. So might "adhered." I’ve needed to get out and deal with these but we haven’t been home on the weekends, and I’ve just been too exhausted on the weeknights. The problem (and the limiting factor here) is the bulbs. They’re not waiting for me, and the taller they get the harder it is to rake out the leaves without doing serious damage. The lilies are already up three to four inches. The narcissi are all the way up and blooming. The iris, luckily, are just starting to peek out. So since Saturday was a gorgeous, warm day, out I went with the rake. Bob went after the mess in the driveway while I went after the gardens. It was awful. The top layer were fairly dry, but the bottom layers were wet and fused to each other and the ground, so it was a lot of work to get them peeled up without breaking stuff. "Back breaking" is somewhat of an exaggeration, but that’s sure what it felt like.

Ever try to rake wet, matted leaves out of a bed of pachysandra? I don’t recommend it. But neither do I recommend allowing decomposing organic matter to be right up against the house. I could learn to hate pachysandra.

The problem with this entire scenario is that I didn’t get a single "you’re overdoing it" warning sign. I was tired, I was out of breath – but these are both things that the doctor says are going to happen and that I need to get used to. My hands hurt. No surprise there (I have a lovely set of matching blisters. Just two, luckily – one for each thumb.) But no twinges, no soreness, no indication at all of "you should stop for the day." So I put in a good five hours, and made it across the front and the west end of the house. I had really hoped to get the big lily bed cleaned out also, but I was pooped. Poor Bob put in an extra hour beyond that, cleaning up the piles he’d made in the driveway.

I’d anticipated being stiff. I’d expected to be sore. I hadn’t expected to be in such agony that I couldn’t sleep. Apparently, I don’t actually have biceps – I have place-holding pieces of meat that keep my skin from caving in. Also apparently, I really used those non-muscles. By the time it was time to go to bed my arms were big gobs of fiery pain from the tips of my shoulders to the tips of my fingers. I don’t know what most of those muscles are, but they are not fond of me. Not even a little.

Did you know that it’s really difficult to position and hold ice packs on both upper arms simultaneously?

Oh, and guess who isn’t supposed to take ibuprofan?

Bob was pretty bad off too, but he had a beer and a few Advil, and that helped. I, on the other hand, took two ineffectual Tylenol and tried not to whimper too loudly.

That was Saturday. On the plus side, until the actual pain started, it was nice to be outside in the sun, and I had every window in the house open all day.

Sunday started poorly. One of my pregnancy idiosyncrasies is that if I let my stomach get too empty, it gets really fussy about what the first thing I put in it is going to be. Let’s just say that I discovered that orange juice was the wrong thing (she chose... poorly.) Oh well. Once I’d perked back up we decided to go outside and try to do a little more. My thinking was a) I need to get the lily bed cleared out before they get any taller, and b) maybe if I’m careful, some lighter exertion will warm things up and make me feel better. The bed got cleared, but it made me worse. Last night was just a horror show. I spent it alternating ice packs and the heating pad, and swearing a lot. I knew I was out of shape, but I’ve never had anything like this happen before. Ever. I finally broke down and took some ibuprofan – all of the literature I could find from the hospital and otherwise pretty much boiled down to "we’d prefer that you not take it, but if you’re not in the third trimester and you really need it, just don’t take a lot for a long time." I decided that pain that made me want to have my arms surgically removed qualified as "really needing it." It took a lot of the edge off and I was able to get to sleep. Unfortunately when I woke up at midnight the edge was back, and I wasn’t going to take more. I did eventually manage to get back to sleep, and got a little rest.

So here I sit this morning. I’m down to the level of "I hurt very badly" which is a huge improvement. I still need to rake out one garden bed, the back yard and under/around assorted shrubs. I’m thinking that we should be able to get that done next weekend – and I’ll be more careful. I’ve taken a good hard look at the existing beds, and I know where I’m going to downsize. Some plants will be moved, some will just be plowed under. It’s a bit of a shame to trash all of those lilies, but we’ve got hundreds, and I can’t maintain a bed that large. There comes a point where you just have to say enough is enough. Or in this case, enough is too much. There is a rototiller and a small patch of grass in our future. I also need to buy lots and lots of mulch, and figure out what to do about that damn quince bush. It over-wintered fine, and looks to be thriving. Quinces are so pretty that I don’t want to just pull it out, but it’s really in the worst possible place. I need to find out what kind of roots they have so I can figure out how to dig it up. I should probably wait until fall also, which is a damn shame because it’s in the way now. But I’ll have all summer to figure out where it’s going to move to.

I’ve ordered the big rat traps. The chipmunks are going down this year. To probably misquote a post from gardenweb – "I used to think they were cute, but now I know that they’re rats with racing stripes."

The snowblower has been summerized. Now we just need to get the lawn mower in to the small engine repair place because it was never winterized and won’t start. Not that we have any grass...


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2008 03:46 pm (UTC)
While you're exercising, if you're not working past your reasonable capacity, your muscles won't start to hurt until you've already overdone it, because they're all nice and warm and oiled up, so to speak. It isn't until you STOP using them that the pain starts.

If you have back problems you might get warning twinges (I usually do) but normal muscles just won't warn you. My back only warns me because it has been weakened due to a childhood fall down the stairs and a subluxation in the curve of the lower back that pinches really tight. So it's easy to overdo it with my arms because they'll keep going until I feel tired, which is usually well beyond the point where I've exercised many, many tears into them that will require several days of disuse before they stop hurting.
Apr. 14th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
You just hit the nail right on the head. My back will warn me well ahead of any actual damage - but I've got some congenital back issues that keep me going back to my chiropractor. So when I overdo it and hurt my back, it's because I really asked for it.

My arms felt *great* - right up until they felt awful. It sounds like I did exactly what you describe. Live and learn, I guess. I will be much more careful next weekend.
Apr. 14th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
I'd recommend things like juniper, eucalyptus, mint and lavendar to soothe your muscles, but being that you're pregnant, most of those are not or may not be safe. You'd only use them topically, but still...hard to say for sure. Doctors basically just cover their butts and tell pregnant women to suffer without ANYTHING to help them through colds and pains of every sort, because there are too many *possible* risks that they won't go out and research.


Anyway, yeah, it's true. Muscles don't hurt while you're using them unless you've already used them too much. I've been a regular worker-outer for about 7 or 8 years, so I know. :D
Apr. 14th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah - my doctor flat out told me that if I ask him anything that starts with "can I do..." or "can I take..." he's going to say no because of the liability. The example that he used was that if 30 women came in and asked him if they could paint (for example) and he said "yes," one of those 30 women will have a baby with a birth defect. Because that's the statistical background rate. But she'll come back with a lawyer and a lawsuit because he said "yes." We've become an overwhelmingly litigous culture down here, and it's a damn embarrassment.

I DO see his point that no one wants to do test studies on pregnant woman. There's a disaster going somewhere to happen!

A little suffering through it won't kill me, and perhaps now I've learned something. I'm going to cuddle up to my box of epsom salts tonight and take a nice warm bath. Can't hurt, might help. I've definitely learned to keep better track of how much I'm doing - I had no idea that I'd been at it non-stop for five hours!
Apr. 14th, 2008 04:28 pm (UTC)
I’d anticipated being stiff. I’d expected to be sore. I hadn’t expected to be in such agony that I couldn’t sleep. Apparently, I don’t actually have biceps – I have place-holding pieces of meat that keep my skin from caving in. Also apparently, I really used those non-muscles. By the time it was time to go to bed my arms were big gobs of fiery pain from the tips of my shoulders to the tips of my fingers. I don’t know what most of those muscles are, but they are not fond of me. Not even a little.

You need to be more careful than normal. Pregnancy also includes yummy side effects like being more prone to things like carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact it's possible to deveop carpal tunnel for the duration of the pregnancy and have it totally disappear as soon as the baby is born (if you're lucky).

Happened to my sister, during both pregnancies, and to a few other friends.

If I were you I'd mention this weekend to your OB the next time you see them.
Apr. 14th, 2008 06:43 pm (UTC)
That won't be until May 9, but if I remember, I'll bring it up. I do think Mel nailed it though - I was all warmed up and doing well and just didn't realize that I'd pushed past the point where an overweight, middle-aged, out-of-shape housewife should have stopped for the first session. Five hours of heavy labor straight out of the gate was just too much for my lack of fitness level.
Apr. 14th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
From experience I can tell you that acidic juices will not be a good first morning choice from now until you are done nursing. If you are one of those who can not start the morning without OJ, try the low acid one.

And by odd chance I opened a box from when we moved here. Do you have need of a baby monitor. Works by either battery or via plug. It worked well for camping events.

I have not had a battery in them in 10 years, so they might not work, but if you are interested, let me know.
Apr. 14th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)
Mmm. Yes - learned that on Sunday. You know, if I hadn't been so distracted by how badly I hurt, I would have actually processed the fact that the first sip didn't go down well and would have stopped. But I just wasn't paying attention.

*That* won't happen again :-) Bob was a sweet heart - he came and sat on the floor with me.

Sure - if you're looking to get clutter out of the house, I'll pop some batteries in and see what happens!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )