I thought I was in the clear. About 15 weeks into my first pregnancy and the nausea that had been just bad enough to be truly annoying, lingering at the edges of every moment, had finally begun to ebb. "Awesome," I thought to myself. "I'm in my second trimester now, the honeymoon trimester! This is when I get to be a glowing and majestic Mother Earth goddess." That's when the pregnancy gods looked down and said, "Nausea is gone? OK, time to hit her with the sciatica." OMG you guys, the list of things I'd rather experience than sciatica pain is expansive and ridiculous, because sciatica blows.
Sciatica describes pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness of the sciatic nerve as the result of pressure. So sciatica isn't a primary diagnosis, really, but the result of a bigger issue. Common causes of sciatica include a slipped disc, arthritis, or spinal stenosis. Sciatica in pregnancy is mercifully rare, and can be the result of weight gain, expanding uterus, altered posture, and your baby's position. I couldn't tell you what exactly caused my sciatica, but I can tell you this: I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. OK, maybe my worst enemy. He's a real bastard and would totally deserve it.
This is all pretty technical, though. What does sciatica really feel like? What would I rather go through than months of this devilish affliction? Sit back and allow me to tell you, my friend.
Getting Spanked By Captain Hook
When I first got sciatica it would hit me at random points during the day. Like, I'd be totally fine when all of a sudden, BAM! It would strike. So this one time, I was walking down the hall at work when I froze in my tracks and sharply inhaled. An intern stopped, concerned, and asked if I was OK. "I feel like I just got spanked on my right ass-cheek by Captain Hook." I breathed through clenched teeth.
It was not my most professional moment, but it was literally all I could think through the searing pain. I think that served as that intern's birth control for the next couple years.
The Business End of Indiana Jones' Whip
On the one hand, I can't imagine that getting hit by a narrow strap of leather in the hands of a semi-professional would be pleasant. Then again, neither is sciatica. The plus side of the whole whip situation is that it's being wielded by Indiana f*cking Jones. That's some peak era Harrison Ford and the dude still looks pretty goddamn amazing. There is no silver lining with sciatica. So, all things considered, between the two I'm going to have to go for the kinky stuff with Dr. Jones.
A Shark Biting My Butt
Look, it's not that I want to be bitten on the butt by a shark, but it's always sort of funny in cartoons (and in the various Sharknado movies). Also, while sciatica is rare, shark attacks are even rarer. Do you know how ridiculously unlikely you are to be attacked by a shark? Let me put it to you this way: since 1580 there have been fewer than 500 recorded shark attacks. (As a means of comparison, humans kill approximately 100,000,000 per year.) So, hey, not fun, but at least you'd have a cool story from it and you'd probably be featured on Shark Week somehow.
Sitting On A Tack
It's painful, yes, but it's over and done with pretty quickly. Sciatica just goes on and on and on and then when you think it's gone, POW! It comes back and you're just there, at the mercy of its whims, waddling around like a chump.
A Tiny, Evil Elf Physically Tying My Butt Muscles Into Knots
Like, yeah, blah blah bah, valid scientific reasons for the existence of sciatica blah blah blah. Lies, I say! Secrets and lies! Something this irritating and painful can only be the result of supernatural forces. I'm going with wicked elves who put invisible knots in the various muscles, sinews, and nerves of your ass. When they're done they laugh maniacally at the misfortune of us poor mortals.
Being Charged By A Unicorn
Because it's a unicorn, you guys. Getting poked with a unicorn horn probably feels like the gentle caress of a particularly cuddly kitten. Besides, if letting a unicorn take a stab at my butt meant that I got to see a unicorn — and maybe braid its tail and pet it and go for a ride in a meadow on it — then #worthit.
Sitting Through An Entire Soul Cycle Class
Actually, no, I changed my mind. Even sciatica couldn't be worse than that sweaty, dimly lit nonsense.
Losing A Sparring Match With Arya Stark
Stick them with the pointy end, indeed.
There's no shame in being beaten by the best, people, and make no mistake: Arya Stark is the best. I mean, like, let's just talk about how her being the best is an undeniable fact: a few of the famous contenders for the position include Loras Tyrell (he's dead), Baristan Selmy (he's dead), Jaime Lannister (he's not dead, but his right hand is and he's not so great without it), and the Hound. Brienne of Tarth has beaten both of the living people on the list (and one of the dead ones) and Arya beat Brienne of Tarth.
Also you guys, seriously how cool was that fight? SERIOUSLY.
Failing At The Running Of The Bulls
Because you may be gored by an angry young bull, but at least you can write about it in your Moleskin notebook from your hospital bed in spare but beautiful language. You will be an insufferable and pretentious hipster, but you will be hailed as a literary genius.
(That's a Hemmingway joke, people: I figure after all this talk about getting spanked by a cartoon character and Game of Thrones I should probably go highbrow.)
Remaining In Pigeon Pose For An Hour
This pose is torture for some people, to be sure, but I found it was basically the only thing that made my sciatica feel better, so here's a "how to" video. You're welcome and good luck.
Being Under A Sea Witch's Curse
In the original The Little Mermaid, the sea witch who bestowed legs on the titular sea princess made it so that whenever the newly made human took a step, it felt as though she "were were treading upon sharp knives, and that the blood must flow." (This passed for a children's story back in the day. And people say Millennials are screwed up.)
But, ya know what? There's an end in sight there. She can just turn into sea foam, and I can't imagine it hurts to be sea foam, right? Seems like it would be sort of zen, actually, just bobbing on the top of the water with the tide. I'd much rather be sea foam than deal with sciatic nerve pain.
Getting An Epidural
OMG can you imagine if there were an epidural for sciatica? That would be so amazing. The fact that you wouldn't be able to walk for however many weeks before you gave birth is a small price to pay. Speaking of which, you know what else I would rather do?
Because it's painful AF, but then it's done. Besides, then you finally get to meet the beloved little monster who's inadvertently been putting you through all this anguish. (Spoilers: it's usually worth it.)