Friday, July 31, 2015

The Agony and the Idiocy

Remember how I told you about how much I hate being embarrassed and how I do pretty much everything I can to avoid it?

And yet, I still manage to make an ass of myself at every given opportunity. This time, I did it to myself. I walked right into it. Well, I hobbled into it.

I threw out my back (this is not the embarrassing part - that's coming, don't worry). My back problems started about seven years ago when I injured it while dead-lifting at the gym. I had never dead-lifted in my life and had zero weightlifting experience, so when my then-boyfriend asked me if I wanted to give it a shot, the logical answer was "sure!" An hour later while recovering in my hospital bed, it occurred to me perhaps I should have given my response more thought.

Since then, I've thrown my back out at least once a year doing the most mundane tasks: running the vacuum, putting a gallon of milk in the fridge. Any awkward movement can trigger it, and I end up with debilitating spasms of sheer agony shooting through my body. This time, I was sitting on the floor with Libby. I lifted her up and turned at the waist to put her on the couch. The movement was off just enough to send that first spark of pain up my spine. It wasn't so terrible, just enough to make me take note and realize a full-fledged spasm wasn't far behind. But, in my experience, that warning shot can mean days of general discomfort before the Big One comes. I had to work at the library that afternoon, and I really didn't want to call off so close to the start of my shift, so I decided to ignore it and proceed as normal.

Later, looking up at the ceiling of the library office as I lay rigid on the floor,  it occurred to me perhaps I should have given this more thought.

While lying on the floor while willing myself not to scream at my place of employment was embarrassing enough, this still wasn't the worst of it.

The worst of it happened en route to the library. The drive there had been fine - sitting upright in the car actually felt pretty good so I figured the pain was subsiding. I parked on the street behind the building as usual and started the short walk up the hill to the library entrance. By halfway up, I was clinging to each brick as spasm after spasm attacked my back. I couldn't breathe. Sweat poured down my face. I was cold and hot at the same time and so, so nauseated. I started to shake. I knew I just had to get to the top of the hill, round the corner and make it 50 feet or so past a few other storefronts to the library door. I cried out with each step, but being able to use the side of the building to steady myself helped. Until there was no more building left, and I had to let go.

I mustered what meager strength I had left and stepped around the corner. This landed me directly in front of a taco stand a few doors down from the library entrance. I buy those tacos at least once a week, so I'm on a nod-hello basis with the guy who runs it. Today, he had a group of about six patrons enjoying an early dinner at his stand. The instant I saw them, my back froze. I was simultaneously paralyzed and writhing in pain. Taco Guy caught my eye and assumed, justifiably so as I was now lingering in front of his stand, that I was there to buy tacos.

"Hola! Tacos?" he addressed me as the pain started to make me jerk like a person having a seizure.

Every eye turned toward me. I couldn't respond. All I could do was stand there and will myself not to pass out.

Taco Guy furrowed his brow, shot a confused look to his patrons, then looked back to me.

"Tacos?" he asked.

"My....b-b-back!" I managed to scream whisper.

He pulled another perplexed expression, but my answer seemed to satisfy him. I was now also dying of embarrassment, but I couldn't worry about it. I could see the library entrance. I had to make it. I sucked in what little breath I could, and forced myself to move. In my mind, I just kept saying, "Baby steps to the library. Baby steps to the library," channeling Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"

It took forever, but I finally made it. I managed to avoid knocking over the displays of best sellers in the front of the library and made it all the way to the circulation desk, where I flung myself while my concerned coworkers ran to get me a chair and cold compress. I eventually made it to the floor, where I stayed until the worst of it passed. I called Justin, who came and picked me up and got me home and in bed with a heating pad, where I stayed for the next 12 hours.

X-rays the next day showed it was just another bad sprain. A couple doses of steroids and muscle relaxers later, and my back was somewhat back to normal.

However, thanks to my continued state of mortification, my taco consumption has decreased dramatically.

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