Oh My Aching Back!

Published 8:09 am Monday, October 26, 2015

When considering a DIY project, nothing gets me going like a shiny new tool. One look at that sharp shooter and I knew I had to use it. And it wasn’t just the hardware that sucked me into my recent endeavor. I was also quite taken with the pretty white stack of limestone pavers. Never mind that I was physically not up to the task, I couldn’t resist. Have you ever heard the loud voice of reason and flat out ignored it?

I should have known better. My back was trying to tell me to quit swinging the shovel well before I set my final stone. In fact, it started growling at me shortly after I picked up my new toy and the noise quickly became deafening. The mind wants what the mind wants, to heck with the body. Surrounded by temptation, I was a mountain climber who could see the peak and couldn’t stop till I got there.

“Why don’t you call Jose?” said my husband as he walked by. He didn’t linger for fear I would press him into service. To be fair, he had already made his feelings clear. “We are not in shape for labor,” he told me. What he didn’t know was that I had already conspired with Jose about it. It was his shiny new sharp shooter that attracted me, after all. “If you need help, I’ll be back next week,” said our trusty yard man as he loaded up his lawnmower and drove away. Asking me to wait for his return was like putting Halloween candy in front of a child and telling him not to touch it.

Working in the fresh air and sunshine has always lifted my spirit. My husband knows I feel this way so he leaves me to my little jobs: raking, shoveling, sweeping. He also knows how nice it will be to have a stone pathway in our yard instead of a messy mud pit.

Back injuries happen more often to people over 40. Who didn’t know that? My friend Meredith, a flight attendant, incurred one while performing her duties on the plane. She knew the moment it happened. Mine sneaked up on me. On Sunday, I was shoveling like a teenager. By Monday morning, I was frozen like an arthritic old woman who was barely able to get out of bed. It felt like my spine was in a vice. Bending was a definite problem. Not understanding the complexity of the situation, I went to a meeting. Nothing evokes sympathy like needing help to stand up. The lady across from me recommended her chiropractor.

The next day, I drove to Dr. Wright’s office. “What happened?” he asked, leading me toward his hydraulic table. Long and lean, he reminded me of a young Jimmy Stewart. With his slow talk and easy smile, I felt better even before he started pressing the bones of my lower back into place. This man was a healer.

The best part of his treatment happened after I left his amazing table to recline for 30 minutes in the next room. I strained to hear other patients’ tales of woe without causing myself pain or dislodging my ice pack. One lady was spreading bags of gravel in the backyard for her beloved cats when she hurt herself. Another woman’s injury occurred during her weekly exercise class. The third guy, older than the rest of us by a significant number of years, didn’t have much of an answer when the doctor asked how it had happened. He shrugged. “Maybe when I tied my shoe?

It’s good to know I’m not the only one taking foolish risks. It’s comforting to know that time heals all things. It’s been about a month now. I thought I’d be back in the garden, but while tying my shoe is not how I got into this mess, dressing myself still poses a challenge.

In the meantime, I returned the sharp shooter to Jose and asked him to hide it in the back of his truck the next time he came to mow our lawn. He chuckled. I didn’t. Back problems are no laughing matter.

Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Want more?  Donia’s  Stories of Hope and Humor can be ordered at dccrouch17@att.net.