My best guess based on thinking 'back' (and the X-Rays) is that i've been ignoring and compensating for a minor high jumping injury from 2006. The bummer is that i wasn't even really jumping that high! But the day after i took that leap was the first day i experienced the spasms and shooting pain up the left side of my lower back in the nerves.
The problem has come and gone over the years and I've sought treatment (a couple sporadic visits to the chiropractor or a massage) when it has gotten particularly bad. It's always been worse with stress.
The first week of February was one of the most stressful I've had-I was planning my first race of the year (the iceman triathlon) and two days after the event had to be packed for a four day adventure race--in which i was participating--in Belize. The Week before the Iceman the pain showed up out of no where. I mucked through - spending lots of time stretching my back and complaining about it. I still managed to get my training in. Exercise has always seemed to loosen up the muscles and keep the nerves from being impinged upon. I even went to a chiropractor twice but it didn't seem to help much.
The Iceman was a success as was packing and the race in Belize. Four days of physical activity kept me from thinking about my spine at all and I harbored a deep seated optimism that i was once again in the clear.
But then came the aftermath of four days of physical activity. The pain got progressively worse during the full travel day back to North Dakota. In the days following it got unbearable. With a straight, stationary spine i had almost no pain. But slight and sudden movements that i couldn't really predict or prevent (unless of course i didn't move at all) were debilitating. Glancing over my shoulder to check my blind spot while driving nearly caused me to pass out. This was the worst things had ever been.
So i went back to the Chiropractor and this time got X-rays. My hope that the issue was tight muscles causing a temporary misalignment was, obviously, dashed.
Today I go for my fourth visit of a 20 visit plan and am gradually starting to get some relief. When things were at their lowest I became unexpectedly depressed--spending hours thinking about all the simple things I feared I'd never be able to do again: somersaults, climbing, child's pose. Hopefully my ruminations about a future I really don't want will help me look at recovery and maintenance more seriously and take the proper steps.
I'm now confident I'll heal and be able to get back to all my normal activities. Training wise, I'm still unable to run or row - but haven't really missed much as the week after Belize was 100% recovery and the following week was slated for 'rebuilding' - normal workouts at slightly less than baseline level to gauge my return to full fitness. I managed the biking one this week but to be honest it was a bit hard to admit that I wasn't going to be able to do the rowing without potentially hindering my spinal healing.
Apparently it takes a long time to clean up a train wreck.