Hours of driveway shoveling safely done, and I forget to be careful and hurt myself while playing.
For any who have had sciatic pain...I don't have to describe. I'm no slouch about pain, but this brought tears to my eyes. The only way to ease the pressure was to lay on my side with ny left knee slung as far forward as possible and my left shoulder slung as far back as possible, and to stretch vertically a little. Fifteen years later and I still remember it well: I did this on the tabletop so I could grab the table edges and sufficiently extend the stretch. In two days, I was starting a new job that I desperately needed. I got there, and for the next two weeks I spent eight hours a day at a cramped, ergonomically unfortunate temporary desk.
In the 15 years of driveway-shoveling and general life since, I've had no back problems of any note. So, that's good at least. This is a lesson I won't un-learn.
But it left its mark. The lower part of my left leg no longer responded to some commands. I spent some time dragging the foot around Igor-style. That improved, at least in part just because I learned to compensate. My left calf developed an obvious divot where a muscle just...wasn't anymore. I am incapable of pushing myself on tiptoe on that foot. There are downstream effects of such an injury: the body is no longer balanced, and everything becomes a bit...twisted...to compensate. That said, I functioned fine: hiking, multiple summers of sword camp...there were just certain actions I couldn't trust my body to do,at least not in any traditional way.
Then earlier this year, I had a bout of what felt like sciatic pain. Except...everything in my back was lined up just fine. And...it wasn't sciatic pain: I could function just fine. When you have pain due to a sciatic nerve issue, there are certain things your body just won't allow you to do, but in this case I could pick up groceries and everything. The pain went on for...geez, at least 6 weeks. Then it began to ease.
And I began to be able to do things with that leg that I hadn't been able to do in over a decade. Before, when trying to stand on tiptoe, the leg just didn't seem to receive the signal at all. Now, it's just exceedingly weak - but it's trying. I am doing exercises to help it along as best I can. The calf muscle is no longer quite as divoted as it was. And the body feels like it is slowly, slightly, starting to un-twist itself.
Best guess: whatever nerve damage I had, it's at least partially repaired itself. I think that bout of not-sciatic pain was part of the reconnection/reboot. This is I think plausible: nerve damage can repair itself, but the repairs are measured in millimeters and years. I am cautiously optimistic. I had always been very keen on having a balanced, even body, and it was extremely frustrating for me when that went away.
Also, bodies are cool.