Off-Topic: Agony (or my journey with back pain)

I was 16 years old and working the plumbing desk at Chase-Pitkin, the now-defunct Wegmans-owned home improvement chain that would fire me a year later.

(Tangent: Nothing good happens during your teenage years. As a matter of fact, the entire time between 12 and 16 1/2 years old is a vastly overrated period of one’s life. You know what else is overrated? The first amendment. One lousy 400-word article dripping with sarcasm and I lose my job. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fine, but they don’t pay the bills, if you know what I’m saying.)

I laughed in shear delight the day they closed Chase-Pitkin. Bastards.

My boss, a foul-mouthed womanizer named Chuck, asked me to help him load a bathtub into someone’s truck. Thinking that Chuck was hungover (Not a stretch. It was also not beneath him to drink at work and try making out with the paint department manager. On the sales floor.), I obliged. Fiberglass bathtubs are pretty light and easily lifted by one person.

We got outside and the three of us (Chuck, me, and the customer) lift the tub. At this point, I felt what I could only describe as a guitar string breaking.


Neither Chuck nor any of the other managers offered me a back support belt or told me about the “lifting with your legs” phenomenon. No, I bent over and attempted to dead lift a 400-pound cast iron bathtub (Tangent: The managers were kind enough to show me how to run the trash compactor, cardboard crusher, bandsaw, key machine, forklift and floor scrubber, all of which I was too young to operate by law.).

I finished my shift and went home. The next morning, I was incapable of moving. Stiff as a plank of wood and in a wretched amount of pain. My pediatrician sent me for X-rays and diagnosed me with a severe muscle strain. Her advice? Take a pillow to school and sit on that. Great! Thanks Dr. Hellems, I already don’t have a girlfriend, so maybe I should take a pillow with me. That won’t make my social awkwardness any worse! Maybe you could give me a walker or order me to wear a moo moo? Could I at least get a note for gym class? (Tangent: Doctors are fucking useless. I should use a pillow AND participate in gym. Why not just bash me in the face with a rock too? Oh, and there was no way in hell my mother was going to let me go to school with a pillow. It’s by the grace of God that we didn’t have plastic on the furniture like our neighbors. Fucking Italians.)

I lived with the here and there flareups through my 20s. I started having muscle spasms on a regular basis during my late 20s, which I fixed by buying an ergonomically-correct chair for work. In 2008 I fell down the stairs in my house, slamming my tailbone on each step as I went down. That was fun. (Tangent: This was the first time I ever took heavy doses of pain meds. I had never been stoned before that day, but I can tell you that Tom & Jerry is nuts when you are smacked up on pills.)

My back muscle pain was excruciating before I lost the weight. The pressure of the 330+ pounds on those muscles was one of the catalysts for seeing the doctor.

Today, I sit at my desk in agony. When I go to the chiropractor today, I will describe the pain as an 8 out of 10. My sciatic nerve is like a fireball running from my kidneys to my knee. I asked him recently if I could have my sciatic nerve surgically removed. He said yes, but that I would live with the phantom pains felt by amputees. So, that’s no good.

(Tangent: How did this happen? I blame The Baby. By the end of my trip to North Carolina, her ear infection and refusal to sleep pushed me to a blinders-on, consequences-be-damned 10-hour marathon drive home. You know what that means? It means that you sit in the same position for hours on end. And you don’t think that I sit like a normal person, do you? Nooooo. Why would I do that? I lean. I shift. I contort. I put all of my weight on my right side, crushing my sciatic nerve and hamstring. Stinking babies. They eat, sleep, shit and cause me back pain.)

The end result is that I’m not doing a lot of anything lately, including cooking. A lot of takeout and simple stuff (I could right about last night’s grilled chicken breasts, but if you can’t marinate and cook chicken, there’s nothing I can do for you.). I work, go home, eat, play with The Baby, convalesce on the couch and drag my fat ass to bed.

So, that’s why the blog is empty. I had grand plans of cooking a pork tenderloin on a plank and doing some other stuff this week. Instead, tonight’s dinner might be Panera. Or Boom Boom. Or Wegmans. There’s also a very good chance that it will be from a little red prescription bottle marked HYDROCODONE/APP.


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