It’s that magical time again! Once or twice a year the recurring lower back pain that strikes when I least expect it chooses the worst possible time to come at me, ruin a few days, and keep me some combination of humble and humiliated.
This chronic irritant has been a lousy supporting character in my life for eleven years and will likely keep at it for all the decades to come. Sometimes it hits me under valid circumstances (heavy or extended lifting, bending too far, sleeping in weird McFarlane Spider-Man positions); sometimes it lays me low at random moments that had nothing to do with back muscles. It was diagnosed years ago as being the result of poor posture — short version, my natural resting states kept making one set of muscles provide all my support while other muscle groups (shoulders, thighs, et al.) slacked off and weaseled out of their God-given tasks, which I suppose I was responsible for supervising. I might’ve known better years ago if public schools hadn’t discontinued formal posture education back in the 1960s. So in a way this is all the government’s fault and I should sue.
Whenever this happens, I have procedures to follow:
1. No heavy lifting, dancing, or action scenes.
2. Medicine NOW. Usually that means ibuprofen. If I could, I’d bake it into recipes.
3. No plush, extra-soft furniture. Firm surfaces only. Cloud-soft dream beds and pillowy chairs are the death of me. I have to enforce this year-round or suffer consequences. Bouncy restaurant booths, sunken hotel beds, couches that normal people think are dreamy — all of these have caused back incidents for me. One such moment nearly ruined one of our annual road trips. It’s sad how many times I’ve entered a room only to find my safest sitting spot was the floor.
4. Minimize position changes. Sitting is fine; standing can be okay; walking works once I’m up and going. But THE most painful time during my back flare-ups is going from sitting to standing, or from standing to walking, or any other combination of verb transitions.
5. Lots of big pillows around my legs so I can’t contort in my sleep. Nothing sets my healing more steps back than unconscious night shifting.
6. If it’s agonizing enough to miss work, it’s time for prescription meds.
Hence the photo above from today’s clinic visit. I know from experience that prednisone cures it guaranteed, but I refuse to go pay extra to the doctor every single time this happens. I’d happily buy OTC if I could and let the doc handle some real emergencies, but the government is afraid I’ll start sprinkling prednisone on my omelets and die a steroid breakfast junkie, so I have to undergo the rigmarole of biding my time in a waiting room, doing my part in clogging up the health care system, and patiently explaining to a new doctor (it’s never the same face twice) what’s happened every time and what works every time. Half the time, today included, they don’t bother with superfluous testing or prodding. They write out what works and send me to the pharmacy next door and later charge me for a full visit anyway. Your American medical system at work, kids.
So until Big Pharma is ready to approve and sell PredniGO! down at the nearest grocery, I guess this is all in The Game. Worst part, blog-wise: the office chair we use to do Internet stuff on our home PC becomes my mortal enemy. None of its curves match my curves, so it’s impossible to sit at it for more than ten minutes at a time. The chair begets more pain, which in turn inhibits imagination and topic choices. (No one wants to see seven variations on this same status-update entry and I don’t want to waste bandwidth on them.) Replacing the chair isn’t that easy or cheap, and the other movable chairs in our house yield mixed results. The least worst of the bunch is a lawn chair that’s a little too short for me to compute comfortably. I realize I may sound fickle, but that’s where I’m at just now.
Rather than skip two nights of posting in a row, that’s why I’m doing something slightly different: the second-ever MCC entry written entirely on my phone. I hate doing this because I have sausages for fingers and microscopic keyboard is very microscopic, but now that the pain is subsiding and painkillers aren’t putting me in a state of forced napping, the writing urge is returning and I had to do something. It was a great feeling to read through thirteen graphic novels over the last two days, but I’m dying to switch back from input to output mode again. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and take it one slow, slooooow step at a time, I guess.
If I weren’t running out of patience with this Lilliputian keyboard, I’d consider adding another 300-word digression about how the phone tried to auto-correct “MCC” into “McCain”. It’s not nice to tease a man in pain, STUPID PHONE.