Dodging the pain

Have you ever pinched a nerve? I think I may have, last night, while I was sleeping. I was tossing and turning in semi-awareness of a murky dream and then I bolted wide awake, vibrating with excrutiating pain that radiated out of my lower right shoulder blade. After several seconds, it went numb, but as soon as I moved, the searing pain shot through my body again, as though my shoulder was hooked up to electric cables triggered by movement. It was early, about 7 a.m., five hours after I went to sleep. I got up and paced around my room, reaching over with my good arm and massaging my back, trying to coax away the streaks of pain that would leave me frozen in place, moaning out loud. If I relaxed, the numbness returned, but not for long. I laid back down. I sat up. I paced some more. Nothing I did brought me any kind of comfort.

A couple hours passed. I read a book, standing, pacing, leaning against the door. The sun came up. The sky was clear and beautiful, and I was annoyed, because I really wanted to get out today. The pain was subsiding, with longer periods of numbness, but discomfort lingered, as did the periods of acute burning sensations. I sat on the bed and tried every position I could think of. I stretched and flexed. I held out my arms and clenched my fists, and as I started to sense a level of comfort, I realized I was perched in a position that was very similar to the one I make while riding my bicycle.

So I went for a bike ride. It will sound totally crazy but standing, sitting, even laying down caused me pain, but I didn't feel a thing as I pedaled up the road. Sometimes I would stand out of the saddle or lean hard into a turn, and the pain would streak through, but as long as I held steady, I felt comfortable. The temperature was 25 degrees - cold therapy. And since I suspected my injury was more annoying than serious, I kept at it, all three and a half hours I had left until I had to get ready for work - about 45 miles.

I'm not saying I believe the bike ride actually helped. As soon as I stepped off the bike at my front porch, the resulting streak of pain was so intense that for a minute I thought I might black out. And I couldn't muster that wherewithal to ignore the pain long enough to actually lift my bike up on the porch, so I just wheeled it behind the house. But I don't think the bike ride necessarily hurt, and it gave me several hours of much-needed relief. I popped some painkillers and my shoulder continued to throb, but the pain subsided over the course of the day. Still not sure what is causing this injury ... maybe it is a delayed reaction to a crash I took onto hard ice on my snow bike yesterday, or maybe I really did pinch a nerve in my sleep.

But the lesson here is, I think, as I work out the kinks in my life, my body is telling me to stay on the bike.


  1. Jill, while I believe a good bike ride will cure about everything, you may want to go get an adjustment from your local chiropractor and get realigned. Sounds like you stoved something on your fall on the ice.

  2. hey I was going to make the same comment as Paul. I see a chiro about twice a month. Sometimes I get that sensation your refering to as well. Seriously...its not good to just let that go, cus if a bone kinks out of place fully on you when your out in the wilderness - its very debilitating. I went from a perfectly fine 24yr old - to hardly able to walk for about 3 monhts. All from throwing my back out.

  3. A lot of these pinched nerves pains are caused by stress.

    It still hurts though.

  4. nice skier8:44 AM

    That kind of pain is not good and should be looked at by a chiropractor or other doctor. Seriously.

  5. Jacqui9:26 AM

    A chiro warning... make sure he does an x-ray first. I made the mistake of going to the chiro when I woke up and couldn't move my head oh nine years ago. The pain got worse after the chiro and it turns out he may have herniated a disc which was probably already bulging. Just be prudent.

  6. Interesting. I have sciatic issues from time to time. Last time it really flared up was as I lifted a friends bike onto the rack. I thought my ride was stuffed, but to my surprise despite normal movements being painful riding was painless. Guess it is just a good neutral position.

  7. Jill...when I had the debilitating nerve pain after my first ankle surgery this spring, I started taking B12 tabs and also some kind of ayurvedic anti inflam thing from Rainbow with high levels of tumeric and black pepper. It was astounding how fast it worked. B12 is amazing!!!
    I am pretty skeptical of supplements and pills and almost never take anything for even a headache. Can't hurt, might help. Good luck!

  8. Bikes are wonderful aren't they? Of course I'm only a fair-weather roadie. But I had the same issue with my sciatic last year. It hurt to walk, lay, sit, anything. But when I rode my bike it was just fine.

    Turns out I had a ruptured disk though and I had to get surgery this summer. I tried to hold out for winter but the pain got to be too bad.

    However, after months of refusing surgery I'm glad I did it because I feel awesome, I've never had so much energy. Dealing with constant pain just drained me, I didn't even realize it until after the pain was gone.

    P.S. I hate chiropracters, they hurt. Well, pretty much I hate all doctors. Go get a massage!

  9. Anonymous1:58 PM

    sounds like the rotator.
    Roll up a small towel and tuck it under your arm pit. Put your arm to your side. Feel better? Now you know what football players go through after a hard game. Only its both shoulders :)

  10. Anonymous3:48 PM

    it might be a pinched nerve. get a tennis ball. lay on the floor, putting the tennis ball right under where you think the pinched nerve is. PRESS HARD onto the tennis ball. If it is a pinched nerve, the constant pressure (30 sec or so) will cause it to release

  11. Anonymous4:51 PM

    Sleep injuries are the worst!

  12. Anonymous5:27 PM

    Hi Jill,

    Big fan; read your book. Rode through the cold of SLC last winter because of your inspirational and instructional stories.

    As for your pain, get thee to a physical therapist. It could be a spasm of your rhomboid, which is a muscle under your shoulder blade. If so, it won't go away on its own.

    Good luck and thanks for the awesome pics and great tales.

  13. Anonymous8:10 PM

    The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Forget the Chiropractor, the B12, the tennis balls, and talk of surgery. Give it a few days rest and RELAX. My bet is you'll feel better soon. Tension may be a part of your problem, too.

    I really enjoy your blog. I visit Juneau every summer for a couple of weeks to visit with family. I'm nearly at the halfway point in my year-long wait. Cool to see winter shots of scenes that I see only in the July sunshine. Thanks so much for the effort you put into your blog.

  14. Most "shooting electric" type pain is nerve pain and you shouldn't mess around with it. It may need to be checked out! Take care of yourself.

    I get sciatic nerve pain and it is miserable! Shooting pain from your butt through your entire leg... No fun!

  15. Anonymous6:52 PM

    I second the tennis ball therapy, having used it to deal with sciatic nerve pain and tense back muscles for the past few years. Instead of laying down on the floor I use a wall, placing the ball between myself and the wall to massage and place pressure on the affected area. It allows for decent control of the ball. Throw in some ibuprofen and it usually takes me past the debilitating pain.

  16. Just wondering if those photos are of the Eagle Beach area?


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