September 22, 2010
As some of you may already know from my pathetic tweet in the night, I’m laid up with some pretty intense lower back pain. According to the chiropractor, it’s not a disc (thank God), more likely a pinched nerve or swollen muscle. He pulled this and snapped that, the way chiropractors do, and I did feel better but two hours later I bend over to pick up a quarter and Pow! The invisible sniper shoots me in the back. Again.
He’s a dodgy one, my back assassin. Two weeks ago he got me while I was getting out of a car. WTF? I bike to work, run or workout every day, and yet I get walloped while getting out of a car? Yesterday, he struck again, hitting me while I was walking into my house. I wasn’t carrying anything heavy. I felt great. I. Was. Walking. Bastard grabs my lower back and squeezes, bringing me to my knees. I go a couple years without any major issues and now suddenly I’m crippled.
Funny thing (not so funny now) about my condition is how abstract the diagnosis and prognosis is. I see two specialists and while neither actually contradicts the other both have very different takes on the issue as well as its remedy. The only thing they agree about is putting ice on the pain. Whatever I do, they say, resist the temptation to use a heating pad. “No heat!” they both practically scream. So why the fuck did I install a Jacuzzi in my bathtub?
Alas, I’m also not allowed opiates for the pain. That’s another pain-filled story. Needless to say, the strongest pill I can pop is Alleve. Par-ty.
Look, I know this isn’t Web MD. You didn’t come here to read about lower back pain, mine or anyone else’s. But I’m stuck in bed, propped up by pillows with a brick of purple ice shoved down the back of my shorts. I’m kind of a one-subject man at this point. But guess what? For the first time ever my laptop is actually on my lap.
I remind myself of Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair-bound character in “Rear Window.” His obsessive nuttiness. Even without meds, I’m getting weird thoughts. Like, what if I’m stuck this way forever? What if I can never ride a bicycle again? Or how am I gonna use the goddamned toilet? It’s kind of scary actually. But then I think about all the people who really do live with pain; pain far worse than mine. How torturous it must be not being able to sit down and eat a bowl of Cheerios because bending the torso sends agonizing flares down your legs. Tonight I can relate.
One last indignity: while hobbling into my study to grab a book I notice a dog turd on the floor. It came from the tiny terrier (Elmo) belonging to my girls. I cannot bend over to pick it up and so I stand there, holding a bag of ice on my ass, staring at this piece of petrifying poop and think: this must be a lesson in humility. At least I haven’t lost my sense of humor. Yet.