Picture This: An Excruciating Pain Report
by douglas imbrogno | westvirginiavile.com
So, there I was, getting out of my car.
In the local Kroger parking lot. A few nights ago.
My back had been hurt for days, somehow, some way.
Maybe it was that ‘Prayer Pose,’
a new yoga move I’d learned on this retreat
that really twists the spine. Or maybe my already twisted spine
was just not ready for it. Or is it age-related for somehow
I seem to have turned middle aged and 54, WTF?
I take off Monday from work, it hurt so bad.
Was back by Tuesday at the Paragraph Factory where I
make paragraphs (widgets of video, too). Walking to
the canteen to get some Junior Mints or Fritos,
to distract from a paragraph that’s just not working,
a twinge of lower-back-right-quadrant pain stopped
me in my hallway tracks. Hand against the wall like
I were pressing wallpaper on so it would stick, I once more
hear Jagger singing in my head: ‘What a drag it is growing old…’
Alert Wife text-suggests chiropractic. I make the call.
Meanwhile, day is done, I drive home and at a stoplight
read the text from teen-age daughter: ‘Pick up some bread
for my school sandwich. We are out.’ Which is why
I’m strolling, slowly, cross the Kroger blacktop on this
cold and rainy night. I get within ten feet of the door and
at that moment am struck by lightning.
Later, I imagine Zeus, bored in his heavenly retreat,
spots a human insect down there on Earth. Idly heaves
a jagged lightning bolt of electricity at it, nailing my
lower-back-right-quadrant. It’s like I were knifed,
when the pain hits. “Aaaaaggghhhhh!!!” I cry out.
Perhaps the security cam which scans the lot
picks up my arched-back pose and exclaim. I don’t know.
But I can no longer walk.
I lean myself against a brick post beneath the Kroger’s opening.
Oh look, there’s someone I know coming out the door. “Hi!” she says,
bubbly as Perrier. “Hi,” I say, figuring I should explain why am holding
up a pillar. “I hurt my back.” Oh, she says, “I’m sorry.” We have a
nice chat. Talk about Greg’s post-Thanksgiving fest, how
she’s been asked to belly dance. “Maybe I will see you there!” I say,
cheerful-like, although my back feels like just-surfaced lava.
“Hope you feel better,” she says and into the night carries off
her little sack of Kroger goods.
I hobble, 90-year-old-man-like, to a shopping cart.
Leaning on it, I wheel slowly back to car. If there were a
portrait for ‘pathetic,’ I am it. No sandwich tomorrow for the girl,
she’ll have to pack more Doritos. Call the spouse, then an
unpleasant drive to driveway. Wife arrives with canes.
(Note to Self: Such a good wife) I use two canes, one each hand,
to get inside the house. Much pain, much ‘Woe-is-me!’
behind closed doors. Gnashing of teeth, water from the eyes.
The usual human lament. I can’t take off my shoes, untie or tie them.
Good Wife does this. I can barely get into bed. Or out of it.
My Life is Over. I’m Ruined! cries the Frantic One inside my head,
(who is always crying frantic things). “No need to awfulize,”
says Good Wife, “until we know what’s up.” Indeed. I suck it up.
Try to meditate, longitudinally, there in my bed.
Try not to imagine wheelchairs, adaptive equipment for
my Remaining Days on Earth. Next day, the chiropractor, big guy,
chewing gum (chewing gum?!), seems a little young to me,
X-rays, shows the angled spine inside my whacked-up body.
Says 6 or 8 visits should do it, likely a bulging disc
agitating a nearby nerve. CRACK! He adjusts me on my right side.
CRACK! On my left. Is it legal to crack a human being like that?
Next room, a very cute assistant in blue shirt, black slacks, ponytail,
applies electro-pad to lower-back-right-quadrant for 20 minutes,
like leprechauns dancing on your back. The high cuteness factor
of assistants helps with the pain and the chewing
cow’s cud gum. See my X-ray
— wow, my spine is really wandering off there!
Shows me a fiberglass vertebrae. I think I see. We shall see.
Gives me exercises, a sheet of paper. See you soon.
I can walk again. Later, I can reach, tie my shoes. Life is good. No,
life is just great. Note to Self: When was last time you were overjoyed,
ecstatic, just to tie your shoes? To stand and walk into the bracing
brisk Fall sunshine without two canes in either hand? Ah! Ah yes.
We don’t heed the absences. But the absence of excruciating pain is
one half of a coin. The other half — should I notice it — is joy.
Joy of this healthy, upright body. When Zeus misses you with his bolt
and you walk into the Krogers for some bread
for the day to come.
~ An After-dark Walking tour of Huntington, WV
~ Insomnia Album: Pictures for the Pre-Wee Hours
~ Poems Without a Book
~ Six Variations on a Curve in the Road
~ Some Days, Nothing Will Do
~ Still Life with Lines, Leaf and Water
~ Excruciating Pain Report
~ I Got Nuts, Beef, Candy
~ Blue Rooms