In 2014, on a Monday morning, Ian got out of bed and fell to the floor. His legs gave out when he tried to stand. He felt excruciating pain in his lower back and numbness in his legs. This episode was more then not wanting to go to the office that day! It had been a full-on weekend prior to that Monday; vigorous digging around the house to prepare for the installation of a new drain, an intense hilly 75 km bike ride with a friend and some mental preoccupations about work.
At 6 foot 3, the constant bending over during yard work and cycling combined with a sedentary office job sitting all day wreaked havoc on Ian's back over the course of several years. He was also informed that five disk herniations was rare and that it was possible that part of his back instability could have stemmed from a genetic predisposition. Both parents had back issues in their younger years as well.
Yet through the implementation of proper lifestyle habits, correct movements and a commitment to his own self-care he would be back on his feet and functional within the year.
In the initial phases of his back crisis, Ian consulted with his medical doctor, osteopath and physiatrist to try to understand where the pain was coming from and find a solution for the excruciating back pain he was living with daily. The radiating pain he experienced kept him awake at night and didn’t allow for any comfortable position sitting or standing. He walked hunched over and had to swing his right leg out to the side with every slow step he took to avoid jabbing pains in his back and legs.
This painful and limiting way of living endured for six long months until Laura's father intervened and referred him to his friend and emergency doctor who was associated with neuro-surgeons at McGill University in Montreal. Within a week Ian had an appointment with one of the top sports neurosurgeons in Montreal. He was instructed to bring his paperwork of prior medication prescriptions, along with x-ray and MRI results he had gathered from the previous months.
Ian was diagnosed with having 5 herniated lumbar discs. He was told that the herniation between L4 and L5 was so severe it was pressing upon the nerves that communicated with his legs which is why he was having difficulty walking and perhaps why he had fallen to the floor on that Monday morning. The doctor informed him that some disc herniations can be reabsorbed by the body with proper intervention, movement and rest. However, his herniation was so severe there was no guarantee of reabsorption in the short term. The large bulge was creating constant irritation and inflammation. The doctor informed Ian that he could potentially lose urinary and sexual functioning if left untreated. Decision made. He was booked the following week for discectomy surgery to remove the massive disk herniation in his lumbar spine between L4 and L5.
Six months of intense physical rehabilitation followed which included twice weekly physiotherapy and home exercises to regain his mobility and stability. Ian was unable to move very much the first few weeks and was prohibited from lifting anything that forced his spine, including a pot of water! He was on heavy pain medication and rested most of the time. The extent of his daily activity consisted of walking around in the house, any more than that was exhausting. Even getting dressed was a chore and he needed help to put on his socks in the early stages. Ian began to regain his endurance and energy over the weeks that followed, he started doing light exercises and more full body movement. He remembers what a challenge it was one-month post surgery just to walk to the end of the hallway in our house, and then our driveway heading towards the neighbors house. Sixty feet of baby steps and foot shuffling was as much as he could handle, and he admits having felt a bit discouraged.
Perseverance paid off and two years later he was back on the ski hill! Now Ian is gliding on his roller blades, kayaking and hiking the trails to his heart’s content.
Many of the exercises you will find in The Mend my Back Program are the ones Ian practiced to get him back on his feet and build a solid core foundation. The experience was a life changer, he now works from a home office using a standing desk, stretches his back, legs and hips daily, develops his posture with stability exercises and gratefully walks our dog twice per day. Ian hopes his story will help inspire others to get the help they need and benefit by understanding his process and protocol.
Choosing healthy living habits each day enhances our quality of life. We wish the best of well-being for you too. When we can move better, we feel better and live better.