Aged 41 years, my body is beginning to pick up rpm’s on it’s inexorable hurtle toward a state of uselessness. Happens to all of us, of course, but it’s never more demoralizing than when you realize in the moment, achieving total consciousness, that your once-vigorous and highly functional musculoskeletal system is now nearer to its end state: briny goo contained in a brittle, disposable vessel. Think Spam in a Solo cup.
Last week I threw out my back playing basketball. I’d love to write that it happened when I took a hard foul on a two-handed dunk, but I’ll assume you’re not on peyote as you read this, so … no. Just an old clod vaguely contesting a shot and discovering, for the first time, the black-magic evil of his sciatic nerve.
I’ve been relatively lucky over the years. I broke a collarbone as a teenager. Pretty sure I partially tore an Achilles a few years back. But most of my injuries have been the sort that a little ice and rest more or less mend.
This was different. The pain was excruciating. Walking hurt. Standing hurt. When I tried sitting down for the first time, I’m quite certain I peed a little. It took 10 minutes to crumple into the car, another 20 to heave myself out after arriving home. Nearly every conceivable movement resulted in a 12-inch icepick of hot magma stabbing into my lower back.
It got me thinking of all the things I’d rather be subjected to than this dystopian hellscape of pain just north of my right ass cheek. A small sample:
1) My Fourth of July sunburn scraped away from my back, neck and forehead using paint stripper and a 5-in-1 tool.
2) My teeth ground into a vampire grin with a belt sander by Dee Snider. (Sans novacaine, obviously.)
3) Comprehensive lower-body reconstruction using Rory McIlroy’s left Achilles, Robbie Knievel’s pelvis and Rik Smits’ feet.
4) Three minutes of random Disney XD programming.
5) A “Game of Death” battle with this little dude.
6) Getting a tablespoon of Chia seeds lodged under my fingernail cuticles, with only Vince Vaughn and a pair of pliers to offer relief.
7) Conquering Matt Stonie in an eating contest by ingesting a dozen cartons of Kools inside 10 minutes.
8) Re-enacting the “Shawshank” escape scene, but doubling the yardage on the shit-smelling foulness to an even 1,000.
9) Children singing. Anything.
Pain? Yeah, pain is the pig-tailed baby cousin of whatever demon-spawned beast of torture this sensation is. Now, pass the muscle relaxers and Captain Morgan, will ya?