I threw out my back again and this time it was a doozy. To put it in perspective, here is my revised Personal Scale of Pain (from 1-10):
1: 1977—While pressing peasant blouse, knocked over iron and in the height of moronity, grabbed it before it hit the shag carpet.
4: March 30, 1987—Shortly before epidural after 36 hours of labor.
4.5: June 2008—Threw out back.
10: April 27, 1989—Me, at the opening (as it were) of C-section: “THE ANESTHESIA ISN’T WORKING!”
I’m reluctant to call it a back “injury” because that sounds like it occurred at a construction site or basketball court. It happened picking up preschoolers, which, in retrospect, did involve building (blocks) and athleticism (dribbling). So back injury it is. The only time Advil took my mind off my back (injury) was when the pill got lodged in my throat. Throughout, however, I was able to work and do chores because moving around wasn’t a problem—it was the aftereffects of sitting or lying down that were a royal pain in the back.
It got so I parked my car a block from work so co-workers wouldn’t see (or hear) me get out of the car. Visualize a minivan door opening and a grown woman rolling out, in fetal position, and remaining in that pose while walking. My friend Linda called me DDE_LINK1Quasimodo DDE_LINK1, promising that someday I’d laugh. Note to Linda: still not laughing.
Before my 4.5 injury, I had planned a day trip with my family to the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg. My husband now urged me not to go. I’m not sure if he was concerned he’d get aggravated by my excruciatingly slow pace while hiking Little Round Top or because the hike would aggravate my Big Back Pain. Either way, I refused to let my spine make me spineless. So I packed some pills, strapped on a back pad, lay down in the back seat and (ineffectively) stifled screams after every pothole and speed bump.
After two hours of meditation and medication, I grew confident that all was well. Then I tried to get out of the car. My family formed a circle to protect my privacy, and their dignity, as I extracted myself doing the now-famous fetal-rollout.
A museum turned out to be a perfect place for me because moving slowly signified both interest and intelligence. Admittedly, I got strange looks when I stood frozen in front of the amputation exhibit for 20 minutes. One elderly gentleman grumbled, “Move along.” I’d have given him a piece of my mind if he and his walker weren’t so fast.
The museum is chronologically ordered, so somewhere around the spring of 1864, I heroically insisted that my family finish the war without me. Waiting in the hallway, I went down into a baseball catcher’s crouch. There was a group of young teenage boys nearby, so I tried to look nonchalant. Five seconds into the crouch, I tipped over. I was on my side, in the catcher’s crouch, for a good three minutes. I could hear the boys alternating between giggling and whispering, “Should we help that lady?” At least that’s what I think they were saying—it was hard to tell over my whimpers.
I eventually got on my hands and knees, slowly lifted myself up and, with an I-meant-to-do-that air, casually hobbled to the souvenir shop. Imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t find a T-shirt that read, “I Got Tipsy in Gettysburg.”
[July 9, 2008]
For more Odd Angles, go to the Loudoun Times website and search keyword “Odd Angles”
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