Tuesday, January 16, 2007


In Which I Am Back (Again)...

They wheeled me into the cold, sterile environment of the operating theater. My feet made strange scuffing noises from the blue booties they'd forced me to wear. A dishy nurse patted the table for me to lie upon, face down, while another dishy nurse grabbed the waistband of my sweatpants and gently pulled them down. For a moment, it seemed as though I was in one of those Penthouse Forum letters.

And then a deep masculine voice said, "You're gonna feel something back here," and suddenly I went from Penthouse Forum to Turkish prison.

The needle went in about two inches to the right of the scar that I've worn on my low back for 5 years, the scar that denotes where I had my herniated disk operated on. I immediately tensed, forehead sweating.

"Better give me a minute," I said, trying to warn the doctor that local anesthetics don't work quickly--if at all--on me. But my face was stuffed into a pillow as I said this and before I could raise my head to enunciate, he inserted the catheter under the skin and then inserted the needle into the catheter.

"Might feel some pressure down your leg here," he said.

Pressure! It was as though someone was trying to insert another, slightly smaller leg in under the flesh and bone of my existing leg. I thought surely everything from my hip on down was going to explode, leaving the dishy nurses in a spatter of gore. The world before me swam, a wave of nausea swept up, and I fought it back by concentrating on something else.

All I could focus on, though, was my life, circa two weeks ago. There I was, minding my own business, throwing the Brownie into a beanbag when my whole back, from the base of my skull to my rectum, just locked up. With a gasp of pain, I collapsed to the floor and began writhing like I was doing a play about the trials of Job.

As you all know, I've had a bad back for some years, mostly the result of a contest between myself and a bush I wanted to uproot (the bush won). But it's been a long time since I had a lock-up of this magnitude. Every move was agony; even the simple act of getting out of bed became an exercise in severe muscle contraction and I found myself frozen in mid-pose, back twitching, sweating streaming off me, lips forming swear words I didn't have the oxygen to speak.

Which is why I ended up in bed, pillows propped up under my knees for a few days.

Happy 2007.

The dog knows when I'm ailing. He tries to graft himself to my left armpit, resting his chin on my chest and thumping his tail in an encouraging way any time I look at him. The only problem with his ministrations is that when the kids come home from school, I become--well, not chopped liver, because he likes to eat that, but something equally unappetizing to dogs. He leaves me to go greet his children, and does so in the most expedient way possible: by jumping over me. Occasionally, though, he misjudges and ends up stepping on my pancreas, or my testicles, or both, and I'm left convulsing in pain, first lurching forward in reaction to the sudden stimuli, then falling backwards in a spasm of back pain.

And so it had gone.

Until this morning. After days of suffering and lying around and lurching about the office and then lying around some more, I found myself in the ambulatory surgery office of my back doctor, prepared to get another epidural steroid injection, this one intended to target the nerve root causing so much pain down my right leg. Epidurals are never something you'd choose as a leisure activity, of course, but this one was particularly uncomfortable, in part because the doc was giving me two injections, and both were in a very narrow corridor in the twisted nerve paths of my back. The pressure I felt was actually a good sign--if feeling that your leg is about to burst could ever be considered a good sign--because it meant the doctor had hit the spot he was going for. Presumably the area that felt so uncomfortable this morning would feel the effects of the steroid injection in a few days and I would be back to my old, spry, accident-prone self.

But today, I'm strictly out of commission.

Her Lovely Self picked me up when I was done. "How was it?" she chirped. It was 8:30 in the morning, so she was bright and chipper. I'm not a morning person even when I'm not having needles stuck into sensitive spots in my back, so I just grunted and tried various ways to get in the car without sending a jolt of lightning down my leg. The local, if indeed it had ever taken effect, was wearing off fast.

By the time we got home, I was moaning with discomfort. My body had tensed up quite a bit when the doc stuck me with his needles, so now I was in the throes of a full-body charley horse such as I wouldn't wish on all but my bitterest enemies. I wouldn't say I'm a big baby when it comes to pain, but enough's enough, you know? The past two weeks have been as full of pain as I've felt since I first decided to get my back surgery and I just wanted to wave a magic wand and have it all over with.

My long-suffering wife simply made soothing noises at me ("Come on! It doesn't hurt that bad, does it? Put some pants on, for pete's sake!") and helped me into the house. A neighbor passed this scene and wondered aloud who was in trouble--the moaning guy or the pregnant lady. Determining it was me, he simply moved on (WTF? Didn't he think the pregnant lady might need some help carrying me into the house?).

We made it upstairs and HLS dutifully pulled off my shoes and jacket and was about to go down and bring me some fruit cocktail--which I enjoy having brought to me when I'm not feeling well--but as she turned to go, I let out a great cry of agony and fell sideways across the bed.

"What's wrong?" she cried as I flopped this way and that, swearing and pawing at my back. Even the dog came in to have a sniff.

"My back!" I cried. "Something's really--agh!--wrong!"

"Where?" she asked.

"I dunno!" I gasped. "Right at the injection site. Hurts!" I thrashed a bit more, trying to find a comfortable position, but every movement was agony.

I tried to think of all the things that could go wrong with an epidural injection--leaking spinal fluid, staph infection, paralysis, impotence, severe headache and vomiting. I tried to decide which setback I could live with the most, but given the list, it was hard to pick a number-one choice, you know?

"What does it feel like?" HLS asked, trying to grab my shirt.

"I dunno! It's--ow!--it's a sharp pain. Almost feels like something's pulling on me. Gawd! It feels like my skin is being torn off. What are you doing?!?"

"I'm trying to take a look. Hold still!" she said.

"Can't!" I cried. "Maybe I should call the doctor and see--"

Just then my wife did something to my back that made the pain increase sharply, then vanish instantly.

"Oh thank God!" I cried, panting. "What did you do?"

HLS gave me a well-worn look of mingled pity and disgust. "It was the Band-Aid the doctor put over the injection site," she said, waggling the adhesive strip in my face.

"Oh. Thanks."

She left without a word.

That was an hour ago. I'm still waiting for her to bring up the fruit cocktail.

Meanwhile, I've kept myself busy, noodling about online. Hope you're pleased with the results. Like that logo? It's from Evan, his good deed after winning an animated movie about dog poop during my Giveaway of CRAP. Only took me a year to post it, huh?

Speaking of being overdue, I guess I need to get the next Giveaway up and running soon, too, huh?

Well, I will. I promise.

Just as soon as I'M up and running.

From Somewhere on the Masthead


Godspeed Magazine Man, here's hoping for a fast recovery. Poor guy, I hope Blaze pounces on your soft and squishy bits less often (ignore my giggling, I came up with a completely unrelated amusing thought).

Nice job on the new layout, it's easy on the eyes and easy to settle right into. Here's looking forward to the big CRAP dispersal.
I'm so sorry you aren't feeling well but I will say a prayer for you to get well soon. I'm always amazed how you can still tell a story with such gusto even while suffering. If only you could teach me how to write half as well. Did you ever get your fruit cocktail?

I like the new layout, except for one thing: I can no longer print out the entry and the comments as a whole. Is that something that you can adjust with this template? Better question would be, do you WANT to adjust that, but I always assume that what I want is worthy :-)
nifty logo.

i'm sorry your back hurts. your description made my back hurt in sympathy. ouchie!

hope you recover quickly!
Well, as usual when you don't post for awhile- I was wondering what was wrong. Glad you are improving and that the healing continues. Sending you healing thoughts. Lizardmom
You poor thing. I know my husband has had 3 or 4 of those horrible shots in his back. I hope you are feeling better very soon.

My goodness, another medical problem?! Sure you're not cursed? Or maybe someone has a voodoo doll of you and is torturing it?

I hope you feel better soon.
Yowch. I hope you're feeling well soon, MM.

Nice new header and layout. I just did some tweaking on mine too... seems like the season for it.
Oh Thank God! Well not that you are on the DL, but that in the larger scheme of things it was just your back. That HLS is clearly Okey dokey & hopefully looking for that fruit cocktail. I have the ocasional back freeze myself ... not in the same league as you seem to be, but no fun in any form. I think I speak for many regular readers when I say extended "radio silence" with no warning makes us worry, what with your history & all. Perhaps next time (not that I'm wishing you any ill will, but come on it's you we are talking about) so next time why not have BB pop in, even if it's just in comments, to give us the odd update. That way you don't have to turn the keys over to him so he can lock you out again. (sorry for rehashing that BB) In any case glad you are back even if it is, hopefully, in a drug induced euphoria. On the bright side you can't be expected to clean the basement any time soon. By the by, the new look is quite spiffy, it may take a little gettin' usta what with everything caddy wampus over there on the left! Get well soon. PJ
Hope ya feel better soon, MM! I always get worried when you don't post anything for a while. At least this was a semi-planned hospital visit. I had a bit of back pain myself last week...but it's behaving again (for now.) Oh, and nice new look for the blog.
I have to say -- "well-worn look of mingled pity and disgust"?


My back clenched up just reading your descriptive tale of agony- I feel you. Hope you get better and soon.
Oh that sucks. I'm sorry to hear that you're still in such pain, hope the epidural kicks in soon.

But the layout is lookin' good, though it is going to take a little getting used to everything being on the left.

Can't wait for the CRAP giveaway, I'm so glad to have made it to the site in time for it ;)

Hope you ended up getting the fruit cocktail.
Good lord, MM! I'm in pain just reading what you are going through! Here's to hoping you are feeling top notch soon.
That's one snazzy logo you have their! I have to say, it was my favorite of the ones he sent to you!

Hope you feel better soon!
That's one snazzy logo you have there! I have to say, it was my favorite of the ones he sent to you!

Hope you feel better soon!
Dear lord.

I had a horrible, horrible Charley horse in my left calf last week. They occur occasionally--I'm not sure why, but it seems to have something to do with me stretching in my sleep. The pain is almost unbearable.

I can't imagine that sort of pain throughout the entire body.

Understatement of the Year: Ow.

Here's hoping you feel better soon!
Hope you're on the mend soon and don't need more surgery. I'm also saying a prayer for HLS since I remember what it was like having a husband down for the count with back problems!
Jeez, bubba. What insane Mayan monkey god did you anger in a former life? Of course, I can't say anything, considering my magnetism for injury and ailment. Over Christmas, visiting my sister in Illinois, I managed to burn my back with the simple application of an arthritis pain spray. As in, had-to-go-to-the-hospital burn.

Living the dream, living the dream...

Like the new layout - and thanks for the promotion to "writerly type." Made me blush. :)
Ehem, you really go to extremes for some alone time, eh? It is a master plan though - whine and cry like a baby so loudly that she can't wait to leave you alone. I jest.

Maybe a shot or two of Absinthe would help with the pain? There's got to be some drug out there to make you a smidge more comfy.

Love the new look.

Take it easy MM, very, very easy and feel better soon.
Was anyone else disappointed that this wasn't a hemorrhoid update? It started out so juicy, too!

JK MM, but it sounds like you're going to have to recover without TLC from HLS :(

Hope you're on the mend and the shot does its trick! Glad you took the time to post.

Great new layout!

Hope you're feeling better soon - and I too am glad this story didn't involved the H-word.

Get better soon MM. Hope the back feels better quickly.

I think I got a bit of your "luck" to start off 2007 myself. Missed a step going downstairs last week and sprained the left ankle.

Tore two ligaments. But I didn't drop my daughter. The Orthopedic doc said that Mom's never drop the kids, no matter what pain it might cause them.

I will hoist up a cruch in your general direction, sir, and hope you feel better soon.
Was afraid something was amiss with the long absence. Sorry to hear about your back--I know from experience that when your back acts up it makes life miserable. Hope you're on the mend soon!
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