Hell can be many things to many people. We all have our fears and our pain, but I recently learned that all my years laughing at back pain has come back, as if it was capable of vengeance.
I'm certain I slipped a disc at the base of my spine. It hurt with an intensity I was unprepared for. Simple tasks, like getting in and out of a car or putting on socks became physical and spiritual challenges, as the pain settled not only in my lower spine, but in my right leg. I could tell you that for the first 38 years of my life, my right leg was about one quarter inch shorter than my left leg, but with each step, the jabbing pain reminded me how large that difference was. But I went to the doctor, took some ibuprofen, stretched my spine and kept walking and moving, which for the most part led to decent healing and a return to full life activities. My back made a small clicking sound, or more correctly, the sensation of a clicking sound that I couldn't hear, but could easily feel. But it felt like everything moved back into place and I was set to build some core strength and make sure nothing happened like that again.
Of course, as the snow and ice storm descended on New York City, the possibilities of re-injury were high, but I carefully navigated the poorly dug out cliffs and icy patches which dominated my commute and made it to work safe and sound. Unfortunately, I needed lunch.
So, full of confidence, I walked to La Esquina, with safe cutouts and only a slightly slippery path. Picking up some delicious lamb, I began walking back to the office, nary a care in the world, other than the safety of the lamb torta in my left hand. At this point, it all went bad.
Just walking along, minding my own business, it happened A woman weighing about 120 pounds was running on the ice and snow, losing control of her limbs, sending her careening into me. Not just anywhere, like above or below where my spine hurt, but a dead center hit, like Luke blowing up the Death Star. She went to the ground like a ton of bricks, but I still stood...which was good, because there was no way on Earth I was standing up again if I went down.
Shooting pain went through my spine as I lamented that I was safely walking to lunch when a lunatic running in Creepers on the ice launched into me. Seriously, what kind of monster still wears Creepers, let alone on a wintery day, since we all know Creepers have some incredibly slick soles, which offer no grip on sidewalks alternating between wet and icy. And who still wears Creepers. I mean, that's a very specific shoe statement.
Being gentlemanly, I ask if she is OK. She was perfectly fine, because as a trained skater, she knows how to fall by making herself into a ball. In fact, she bounded up and sprinted along as if she was capable of maintaining safe speed and upright stature in the weather and didn't go sprawling seconds beforehand. She also lacked the compassion to say sorry or ask if she injured me while trying to plow me over. But I expect no less in New York City life.
So, once again, I am reduced to standing in stages, the first wear you insist your body will work as designed, until you spine locks and the stage where you use your arms to convince your body that everything will be OK as you slowly lock your spine once again. So, I sit here, as gingerly as possible, wondering how long will it take to fix my back this time...to which the answer is never.