Back Pain

Last Saturday, we drove down to Six Flags Enchanted Village (update: no longer owned by Six Flags as of 2007) for their Halloween Fright Fest. We were meeting some friends and their daughter Fiona, who is Henry’s age and has a similar level of scary-ride tolerance. We arrived just before the 5 p.m. opening and took our time getting Charlie out of his car seat and into the sling. As we walked over to the entrance, I felt a little twinge of pain in my lower back, but didn’t think much of it at first. I’d been sitting in the car for almost an hour and figured I was just a little stiff. Then the real fun began.

By the time we had walked the 50 feet or so over to the ticket booths, I was in excruciating pain. Nothing kidney stone bad, but bad nonetheless. I couldn’t stand up straight and walking made it worse. I just wanted to lie down on the sidewalk and whimper. Just then we spotted our friends and I decided to try to make the best of things. Play through the pain, right? Ha! My back only got worse as we waited to go through the turnstiles. Inside the park, I couldn’t find anywhere to sit down, which my body said I had to do immediately. After some heroic efforts to obtain a chair for me by the rest of our party, it didn’t really help anyway.

So, as everyone else headed off into the park, I s-l-o-w-l-y made my way back out to the car. In an act of sheer optimism, I got my hand stamped on the way out so I could go back in later. I took some Advil (pale shadow of a pain killer that it is) reclined the seat as far as it would go and listened to NPR for a couple hours, struggling all the while to find a reasonably comfortable position. Meanwhile, Henry and Fiona were having a lot of fun, which after all was the whole point of the trip. I guess the trip was a success!

I’m no stranger to back pain, so I knew what I had to do. As little as possible. When we got home, I took some real pain killers and rested flat on my back. I could barely get out of bed Sunday morning, but I managed to make it downstairs to the living room floor, where I stayed most of the day. Charlie and I got along great down there. He had his dangly toys and play mat and I had my PowerBook and wireless network. And of course we had each other. Monday was pretty much the same as Sunday, but by Tuesday I was feeling better, walking circuits around the house and doing all the usual stretches and exercises that are supposed to help the back. Wednesday was a little better still and Thursday was a pretty normal day (though working my shift at Henry’s preschool in the morning probably set my back back a bit) Today the sharp stabbing pains are completely gone at last, replaced by a general ache all over. One week. One week from sudden stabbing vision-blurring pain to a dull ache. Not bad.

I go through this every few years, though never quite as bad as this time. The last really bad one was in 2001 and before that 2000. The frequency isn’t increasing, but the severity sure is. I know the cure, but I haven’t quite gotten up the gumption to do it yet. It’s actually the cure to a lot of other things, too. Lose weight and exercise. Strengthen those core muscles and give them less to lug around. But doesn’t my back know that Top Pot just opened down the street? Maybe it does and this was a warning shot. Okay, then, I’ll start tomorrow. Tomorrow!

Or maybe the next day…