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Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Posted by Nancy N on 7/16/02 at 08:17 (089754)

Hello, everyone! I just got back from two weeks in Europe with my current choir. It sure was an interesting trip--seeing how we divided ourselves into groups during the free time we had, and how we got along even after 12 consecutive days around each other. It occurred to me part-way through the trip that we really didn't need any additional entertainment--if you looked around within the group, someone was already providing it free of charge!

Anyway, much as I adore Europe, it's good to be home and out of the group for a while (too much groupthink for me!). I need to rest up from the vacation! And to let my blisters heal--I have about four of them, each on a different toe. I decided to view them as badges of honor for all the walking I did, which was substantial. Most difficult was the walking tour we did in Prague, which has many hills and they're quite steep in some places. But I did it all, with nary a whimper from my feet (well, sometimes the occasional twinge, but nothing more), aside from the blisters themselves.

So here's my question--and it doesn't relate to feet, but since there is SO much knowledge on this board, I'm hoping someone can help me out. In January 2001, I went to the doc complaining that I had trouble sleeping because my back would start to ache after several hours. Usually less than 8. She took some x-rays and discovered that I do have some osteoarthritis in my lower back, and we figured that was the problem. I've been using a leg pillow to try to alleviate the problem since then--sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

In Europe, I didn't have a problem AT ALL. And I was sleeping on generic hotel beds! So obviously, my back is not itself the problem. Seems to point to the mattress somehow, though I have this problem on almost every mattress I sleep on stateside. My mattress hasn't been used for more than five years, so it's not that old. I do have another bed here that is in my guest room and has a very firm mattress on it, so as soon as I unpack my suitcase, I'm going to spend a few nights in there and see if it makes a difference. But I can't afford to buy a new mattress right now, and I'm hoping that something can be done to my existing one (may a board underneath it, or something?) to help solve the problem.

Because I don't know the exact nature of the difference between my mattress and the ones I slept on for the past two weeks, I may be leaving out vital info here--if that's the case and you think you may be able to help, please let me know!

Thanks so much, everybody!

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

wendyn on 7/16/02 at 08:27 (089756)

Nancy, I don't know abut your back - but I do know that when my feet were bad, they always seemed to be better while I was on vacation.

I attributed it to less stress! Who knows?

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Nancy N on 7/16/02 at 11:31 (089775)

Could be--though this was a choir tour, where personalities came out in ways you didn't necessarily expect, so it was hardly stress-free. We had a lot of children masquerading as adults on this trip, so there was a lot of aggravation--nobody went so far as to cause anyone grievous bodily harm, fortunately, but I suspect sometimes some folks were not too far from it!

I'm more inclined to blame it on the mattress I have--but like I said, I've had the same problem on most mattresses I've slept on in the US, so is there a difference in the way European mattresses are made? Or just in the firmness/softness? Beats me....

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Suzanne D on 7/16/02 at 20:02 (089813)

Hi, Nancy! I'm glad you were able to be a part of the choir tour and have such a nice trip.

Do you think that possibly since you were walking more while on your trip that the exercise could have helped alleviate some of your back pain?

I have no idea, but that thought occured to me when I read your post.

Glad you're home and that you had a nice trip!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

wendyn on 7/16/02 at 20:23 (089815)

You're probably right Nancy - but if you can't find a mattress cause, it could still be stress. Sometimes 'different' stress isn't so bad!

My feet are red and hot tonight again. Someone asked me the other day if they were sun burned (they are not).

It's the hot and red that drives me NUTS!

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Nancy N on 7/17/02 at 06:15 (089842)

It's possible that the walking had something to do with it, though I do ride six miles on my stationary bike every morning, so it's not like I don't get any exercise when I'm at home, either. I know walking uses different muscles. But I'm not able to spend 3-4 hours a day ambling about the neighborhood in hope of a decent night's sleep, so I am hoping that it's something simpler, like the mattress (not that I can afford one of those right now, either!). My roommate on the trip noticed the same thing--she slept much better on the European beds than she does at home. I find it all very interesting.

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Nancy N on 7/17/02 at 06:19 (089843)

Sorry to hear that your feet are so irritated, Wendy. Sadly, the back pain problem may be easier to solve than the hot-red-feet problem, even though I am not sure which direction to look in for my answer at this point. Hang in there....

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Suzanne D on 7/17/02 at 07:49 (089848)

Yes, that is indeed interesting, Nancy! The Europeans must know something we don't know about making matresses!

And I do want to say that I didn't mean in any way to insinuate that you don't get enough exercise at home. I just read about your extra walking and wondered if there was a connection.

I noticed an odd thing about my own back: I have had minor back pain off and on for about 15 years. After the onset of PF and my wearing Birkenstock shoes, the back pain all but disappeared! Then after having to stop wearing the Birks so much, the back pain is back. It's still minimal, but I notice it.

Ever see one of those alligator games in a kid's game room? The kind where you take a mallet and hit one as it comes out, then 2 or 3 more come out from different directions? That's how I think it is with feet, knees, back, etc.!

Take care,
Suzanne :-)

Re: Well, at least it was on the same thread! LOL (nm)

Carole C in NOLA on 7/17/02 at 10:17 (089866)

.

Re: I'll try again here since my last post turned into Carole's! :-)

Nancy N on 7/17/02 at 12:14 (089876)

Suzanne--

No worries, I didn't take your exercise comment in any way other than what you intended. Anything's possible. I agree that everything in the body is connected--so that might be another reason for the problem. I don't know, and I'm not sure how to start, but I think it is worth investigating--just a matter of finding the time to figure it out! :)

Re: Backs ...

Pamela S on 7/18/02 at 18:36 (090004)

For backs, extensive walking makes a HUGE difference. It exercises muscles that really calms things down, and it's about the best type of exercise you can do for a lower back. Avoiding sitting is also good for a lower back problem. Bicyling does not do the same thing at all.

I am speaking from extensive experience - I had a lumbar discectomy in May 1990, and finally an artificial lumbar disk in June 2001. I used walking alot to deal with the ongoing pain, etc. My best vacation after the discectomy in May 1990 was hiking on the Long Trail in Vermont in August. My back felt quite good for 2 months after the vacation. So, it probably wasn't the European beds - it was the walking!

Re: Backs ...

Nancy N on 7/19/02 at 12:19 (090117)

Pam--

Thanks for the info. I'm still not completely convinced that it was the walking and not the mattresses, though it certainly could have been a combination of the two. The reason I say this is that I don't recall any pain the first night we were there, when we had been sitting for two plane flights (one about 8 hours long) and a bus ride, and did nothing for the rest of the night except eat dinner and crash early. Certainly no walking to speak of that day, and an awful lot of sitting.

I think the mattresses there may have been softer, and mine just might be too firm for me. The arthritis might be aggravating things, too, if the mattress is too firm. I don't know, it'll take a little research, but that's the way I'm leaning. Doesn't mean I won't try to start walking more--I did that in the spring and could tell I was using more muscles in my back, and would like to walk more often. But I'm just not doing it when it's 95 degrees in the shade :)

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

john h on 7/19/02 at 19:10 (090159)

Wendy: Like the song goes 'When you are hot your are hot'! Would it be appropriate to call you a 'hottie'?

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

wendyn on 7/19/02 at 19:32 (090164)

John, you can call me anything you want. A hottie would be just fine!!!

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

wendyn on 7/16/02 at 08:27 (089756)

Nancy, I don't know abut your back - but I do know that when my feet were bad, they always seemed to be better while I was on vacation.

I attributed it to less stress! Who knows?

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Nancy N on 7/16/02 at 11:31 (089775)

Could be--though this was a choir tour, where personalities came out in ways you didn't necessarily expect, so it was hardly stress-free. We had a lot of children masquerading as adults on this trip, so there was a lot of aggravation--nobody went so far as to cause anyone grievous bodily harm, fortunately, but I suspect sometimes some folks were not too far from it!

I'm more inclined to blame it on the mattress I have--but like I said, I've had the same problem on most mattresses I've slept on in the US, so is there a difference in the way European mattresses are made? Or just in the firmness/softness? Beats me....

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Suzanne D on 7/16/02 at 20:02 (089813)

Hi, Nancy! I'm glad you were able to be a part of the choir tour and have such a nice trip.

Do you think that possibly since you were walking more while on your trip that the exercise could have helped alleviate some of your back pain?

I have no idea, but that thought occured to me when I read your post.

Glad you're home and that you had a nice trip!

Suzanne :-)

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

wendyn on 7/16/02 at 20:23 (089815)

You're probably right Nancy - but if you can't find a mattress cause, it could still be stress. Sometimes 'different' stress isn't so bad!

My feet are red and hot tonight again. Someone asked me the other day if they were sun burned (they are not).

It's the hot and red that drives me NUTS!

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Nancy N on 7/17/02 at 06:15 (089842)

It's possible that the walking had something to do with it, though I do ride six miles on my stationary bike every morning, so it's not like I don't get any exercise when I'm at home, either. I know walking uses different muscles. But I'm not able to spend 3-4 hours a day ambling about the neighborhood in hope of a decent night's sleep, so I am hoping that it's something simpler, like the mattress (not that I can afford one of those right now, either!). My roommate on the trip noticed the same thing--she slept much better on the European beds than she does at home. I find it all very interesting.

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Nancy N on 7/17/02 at 06:19 (089843)

Sorry to hear that your feet are so irritated, Wendy. Sadly, the back pain problem may be easier to solve than the hot-red-feet problem, even though I am not sure which direction to look in for my answer at this point. Hang in there....

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

Suzanne D on 7/17/02 at 07:49 (089848)

Yes, that is indeed interesting, Nancy! The Europeans must know something we don't know about making matresses!

And I do want to say that I didn't mean in any way to insinuate that you don't get enough exercise at home. I just read about your extra walking and wondered if there was a connection.

I noticed an odd thing about my own back: I have had minor back pain off and on for about 15 years. After the onset of PF and my wearing Birkenstock shoes, the back pain all but disappeared! Then after having to stop wearing the Birks so much, the back pain is back. It's still minimal, but I notice it.

Ever see one of those alligator games in a kid's game room? The kind where you take a mallet and hit one as it comes out, then 2 or 3 more come out from different directions? That's how I think it is with feet, knees, back, etc.!

Take care,
Suzanne :-)

Re: Well, at least it was on the same thread! LOL (nm)

Carole C in NOLA on 7/17/02 at 10:17 (089866)

.

Re: I'll try again here since my last post turned into Carole's! :-)

Nancy N on 7/17/02 at 12:14 (089876)

Suzanne--

No worries, I didn't take your exercise comment in any way other than what you intended. Anything's possible. I agree that everything in the body is connected--so that might be another reason for the problem. I don't know, and I'm not sure how to start, but I think it is worth investigating--just a matter of finding the time to figure it out! :)

Re: Backs ...

Pamela S on 7/18/02 at 18:36 (090004)

For backs, extensive walking makes a HUGE difference. It exercises muscles that really calms things down, and it's about the best type of exercise you can do for a lower back. Avoiding sitting is also good for a lower back problem. Bicyling does not do the same thing at all.

I am speaking from extensive experience - I had a lumbar discectomy in May 1990, and finally an artificial lumbar disk in June 2001. I used walking alot to deal with the ongoing pain, etc. My best vacation after the discectomy in May 1990 was hiking on the Long Trail in Vermont in August. My back felt quite good for 2 months after the vacation. So, it probably wasn't the European beds - it was the walking!

Re: Backs ...

Nancy N on 7/19/02 at 12:19 (090117)

Pam--

Thanks for the info. I'm still not completely convinced that it was the walking and not the mattresses, though it certainly could have been a combination of the two. The reason I say this is that I don't recall any pain the first night we were there, when we had been sitting for two plane flights (one about 8 hours long) and a bus ride, and did nothing for the rest of the night except eat dinner and crash early. Certainly no walking to speak of that day, and an awful lot of sitting.

I think the mattresses there may have been softer, and mine just might be too firm for me. The arthritis might be aggravating things, too, if the mattress is too firm. I don't know, it'll take a little research, but that's the way I'm leaning. Doesn't mean I won't try to start walking more--I did that in the spring and could tell I was using more muscles in my back, and would like to walk more often. But I'm just not doing it when it's 95 degrees in the shade :)

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

john h on 7/19/02 at 19:10 (090159)

Wendy: Like the song goes 'When you are hot your are hot'! Would it be appropriate to call you a 'hottie'?

Re: Back from Europe, with blisters and a question!

wendyn on 7/19/02 at 19:32 (090164)

John, you can call me anything you want. A hottie would be just fine!!!