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I Haven't Got Time for the Pain

2005-01-21 - 12:20 p.m.

There are many signs of getting old. You can't stay up as late as you used to. You can't drink as much as you used to, and tend to get hungover more. You start looking at people younger than you as slightly insane. And you throw your back out bending over to throw away an empty can of diced tomatoes.

Remember, that's an empty can. Not even full.

That was me Tuesday night. What made it really awful was that I had been feeling fantastic since I had returned from Texas. People were noticing. One person said I looked sexier, another said that I looked as though I had just had sex. Other people just thought there was something different that they couldn't put their fingers on. The truth was that I felt relaxed, confident, and strangely happy to be 25, not to mention thrilled that it showed.

Well, it turns out that I had a window of less than a week to feel fabulous before old age hit me, missing my ass by a few inches and kicking me in the lower back instead. To make matters worse, this happened the evening before my first day of class. There I was, able to make it from my kitchen to my bed only by slithering from side to side on my back on the floor, praying to every deity there was that I would be healed in time to head to my class on the Romantics at 10am the next day, much less make myself breakfast beforehand.

Worse yet, having no idea what I had just done to my back, I had no idea how to sleep. I remembered that people with bad backs are supposed to sleep on hard mattresses, so at first I tried to position myself over a board on my futon frame. This proved remarkably uncomfortable, so I then decided to sleep on the floor with my legs on the futon, thereby elevating my feet as I had heard somewhere was good for your back. This lasted for a little less than an hour before I found myself shivering from cold. I managed to get back onto the futon and onto a board, where I managed to pass out from exhaustion.

Over the course of the night, I would wake up and try to stand up. I couldn't. That's a scary feeling, not being able to stand. It was made worse when I had to go to the bathroom. I managed to crawl on my hands and knees and then pull myself up with my arms once I got to the bathroom. I even managed to wash my hands before I used them to drag me across my dirty carpet.

Then my imagination started up. I had an office mate back when I was working who had a skipped disc, whose doctor told her that she might have to have surgery which, were things to go wrong, could result in her never walking again. While she managed to improve solely through physical therapy, thereby negating the need for surgery, I still decided in my head that it was entirely possible that I could be paralyzed from the waist down for life, meaning that I would just shoot myself as a life without dancing or fucking is not worth living.

I did manage to laugh at myself for having those thoughts. I'm not completely mental.

The next day, I was able to stand, and even to make breakfast. I was motivated to do this by a little bottle I found in my medicine cabinet, one that I had left over from a couple of summer's ago when I had pulled a chest muscle and couldn't even breath without experiencing a world of pain. Precious, precious hydrocodone, that needed to be taken with food, I never could have made it to class without you. I'm glad I did, because I realized quickly that I had no desire to stay in the Romantics class. By the end of the day, I had decided on a course on Milton, one on Faulkner, and one on censorship (dropping the Bolllywood class--it was a hard choice). I had also become convinced that my back problems would go away.

That was the hydrocodone talking. It was just as bad, if not worse, the next morning, so I decided I needed to bite the bullet and go to student health. When I arrived, I was told by the woman at the front desk that if I wasn't running a huge fever or had a limb hanging off, I should make an appointment. So I waited a good half hour to make an appointment with a woman who told me that, as I had been injured within 72 hours, I could go to Urgent Care. I thumbed my nose at the front desk woman a little on my way there, but was surprised when I found out I had to fill in a card and leave it in a tray at the Urgent Care window. Leave a card in a tray? I didn't even get to initially tell a nurse what was wrong? At least with student health in Philly, I got to speak with someone and get my chest listened to immediately. What if I had the same problems here? And you know it took them nearly a half hour to even check the tray.

Once checkd, however, I was the first person to get sent inside, and didn't even have to wait too long for a doctor. She was a very nice woman who checked my reflexes and my flexibility, and she told me everything I needed to hear: it wasn't a slipped disc. As it turns out, I had pulled the muscles that connected my hips to my spine. She gave it two weeks, some muscle relaxers, and some vicodin, making me a very happy patient.

At the end, she gave me a sheet with some back exercises to do. She said there was one I should absolutely avoid, and when I saw it I recognized it as a yoga move that I had been particularly proud of executing perfectly. Turns out it wasn't old age, after all. It was the grueling struggle towards atheletic perfection that felled me. Damn you Olympic spirit! Damn you to Hell!

The back still hurts, but she gave me permission to walk around in order to get blood flowing. Unfortunately, I will not be going out dancing this weekend as I had previously hoped. Instead, I will be reading Faulkner and articles on censorship, not to mention popping plenty of pills.

Although rather than Vicodin, I'll be sticking to Aleve, mostly. To quote Julia Sweeney, I think I'll grin and bear it and enjoy the pills later on with a margarita.

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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