In the way that slightly overweight dad’s who’ve let themselves go do, wearing ill fitting jeans and a t-shirt of their favorite sports team (an irony that only becomes apparent when standing near an actual athlete, with abs that look like they could be used to crash test Jeeps, and Pecs you could take shelter under), I’ve fucked my back up. The set up was quite an obvious one: I was wheeling my three year-old around our street on his Mickey Mouse bike, when we came to a slight incline of maybe two or three degrees. It was at this point my spine said “Fuck it, I quit” and I spent the next ten minutes on my hands and knees in front of all our neighbors, whimpering like a freshly neutered puppy. To be fair, the bike was about 18 inches off the ground, and I hadn’t bent over this far since my last medical. It also involved running, so in many ways I’m lucky to be alive.
I could try to explain the moment my back imploded, but all I remember is seeing white and falling on the ground. I also remember my son laughing at his goofy dad lying on the street making strange chimp-like noises. We were about 15 foot from my front door, but it might as well have been on the other side of the Mojave for all the fucking hope I had of making it home. I considered crawling back, but between me and you, I’ve left enough dignity on the sidewalk over the years to consider that. I managed to convince my son to wheel himself over to the garage, and then I began the long trek home. Think Bambi on ice, after downing a fifth of Whiskey.
The drive to the hospital was a whole new world of pain for me. I kid you not. Maybe that says more about my sheltered existence than my injury, but I spent the entire journey unsure whether to pass out or vomit: every bump and pothole treated me with a level of hatred hitherto reserved only by ex-girlfriends. Whenever my wife hit the brakes, my back spasmed like my spinal cord was connected to the power grid.
We finally reached the hospital, and then… Percocet. And everything felt better. Everything. My pain slipped away into the ether, along with all the other little day-to-day worries that turn an anxious depressive such as me, into a twitching, paranoid mess. It was like God himself was my personal assistant. All I could do was smile ’til drool spilt from my lips. I cuddled my kids so much even my three year old began to feel embarrassed. I told my wife I wanted to marry her. Trust me, you haven’t ever really experienced strong painkillers until you’ve told your mother in law that you love her. Repeatedly. I’ve taken a bunch of different, ahem… “recreational” drugs in my younger days, and with the possible exception of ecstasy (that shit is dope), nothing comes close.
As luck would have it, I was given a prescription for a bunch more of the dime-sized magical little discs. Plus a note for a week off work. All in all a very nice outcome for a man who may or may not have begged for death at one point.
Except… as a precaution, my primary care physician suggested maybe I should get an X-ray done, just to get to the bottom of the occasional back-aches I’ve suffered over the last few years. “Sure, why not,” I said, willing to acquiesce to any demand she made for that delicious prescription of sweet, sweet candy she’d promised me. I wasn’t concerned. I’d pulled muscles in my back before; usually at the gym, sometimes playing sports. I figured it was all a part life when you have a nice round belly like mine, and the flexibility of Venus de Milo.
But there are a number of things you don’t want to hear from the mouth of a medical professional, when you’re the subject. “That’s unusual” is high up on that list. “Eh… what’s unusual?” I replied, relying heavily on the drugs not to go into full-on panic mode. “Have you ever been diagnosed with scoliosis before?” she queried. “Eh no,” I offered in response, “No I have fucking not.” “Well it could be just a spasm, but your spine looks slightly bent. Let me show you.” And there it was, the X-ray of my back that looked like a game of Jenga… played by a bunch of four year olds. Usually when I look at things like Ultrasounds, and X-rays, I can’t make head or tail of it. To me they look like someone spilt their dinner on the floor then took a black and white photograph of it. But there was no mistaking this: my spinal column looked like someone had taken a hammer to it.
The nurse told me she’d seen worse, and that physical therapy would probably fix it, but that the doctor would assess it and contact me next week. But I see an MRI on the horizon, and if that’s bad news, then surgery. Of course, usually this would have me hyperventilating in a state of extreme panic. Not today though… now where did I put those damn Percocet?