I know, old joke. But I’m old. Almost as old as that joke!
I remember the first time my back actually went out.
It was Christmas day. I was living with my Grandma Harris, and she was not at home – she had gone over to Uncle Bob and Aunt Joyce’s house. Later, we would be going to my Mom and stepfather’s house. I was gathering the gifts from under the tree that we would be taking with us. I bent over to pick up a package – not a heavy package. Not heavy at all. I started to straighten up (quickly – because, you know, youth) and …
The pain dropped me to my knees (literally). I went to all fours, and I couldn’t move. At all. What the hell? This had never happened to me before. (I was such an innocent.) And it hurt so bad. And there was nothing I could do but wait for someone to come help me.
When Grandma came home, she found me in a fetal position on the floor. I was still in horrendous pain, but I was able to get to my feet with her help and bent over I made it to bed where I spent the rest of the day with a hot water bottle on my back.
I never wanted to go through that again.
After that, I would get quasi-regular back spasms, but never so bad that I couldn’t move or work out the muscle spasms to where I was mainly mobile.
I could handle this.
The next time I was immobilized was living in Los Angeles – well, really, the Valley.
You know how sometimes when you stand up after sitting on the side of your bed, and you push off with your hands? Well, my right hand missed the bed (yes, I know, wtf? I don’t know how I did it, I just did, I’m talented that way). And there I was again. On the floor. It felt like I had torn every muscle on the right side of my back. Okey-dokey. I’ve been here before, only now I lived by myself – so nobody was coming to help me. I got to my knees, and edged around until I faced the bed, and then leveraged myself up off the floor (slowest leverage ever). Called work and hobbled back to bed.
My boss had a brother-in-law who is a chiropractor and so I got in to see him immediately. I don’t know what he did, but he got me mobile. I went back for some repeat treatments – and that’s when I learned that chiropractors may do some initial good but after a while, poking at sore and injured muscles, only delays the healing. So I stopped seeing him and healed up. Mostly. One thing he told me that was true, when you damage a muscle like that, it never really heals up all the way – just mostly.
And then, married, living in San Jose, I’m at work. I bend over to turn a key in a cabinet door. TURNING A FUCKING KEY! COME ON. Yup, out it went again. At least this time, I didn’t end up on the floor. I simply couldn’t stand up straight – and walking around bent over is not a professional look you want for work. I got back to my chair and little by little was able to straighten my back. As it was the end of the day (of course, it was the end of the day – I couldn’t do this so I could leave work early), I went home, got into bed. Next morning, I called Kaiser for a referral to a chiropractor. Found one nearby and they were able to see me that afternoon. Again, got me mobile. And I stuck with it until the treatments seemed to be causing more harm than good.
And now, here I sit, all old and fat, and my back is pretty much bad every fucking day. Mostly, just the right side. No surprise, that seems to be the side I keep damaging or has an inherent weakness. My back no longer immobilizes me for long periods – at least, it hasn’t for a long time (knock on wood). Instead, I get spasms tearing through the muscles that make me gasp or scream (just a little) before going back to its usual mildly threatening pain.
And here’s the fun part, the worst spasms are when I am fucking lying in bed!
My orthopedist told me exactly what is wrong, but I can’t remember the name of the muscle for the life of me. What he also told me, and I do remember, is there is not one fucking thing you can do about it. You just have to wait for it to heal.
Well guess what Doc? It’s not healing. Not at all. It’s just getting worse and worse. And now, there’s a fucking pandemic and I don’t feel safe going to see the doctor to see what can be done – because surely, there must be something. And I would Google it myself, if I remembered which fucking muscle it is.
But sadly my fat old lady brain is in about as good of shape as my fat old lady boo-boo back.