X’dmas

This way to the Egress.

Well, that’s that. Another holiday crossed off the calendar.

I threw out my back just in time for the festivities, so I was not the usual jolly old elf as I tottered around the kitchen assembling Emeril’s chicken cacciatore and Martha Rose Shulman’s stir-fried succotash while listening to my favorite traditional Christmas carols (“Christmas in Prison,” John Prine; “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Robert Earl Keen; “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis,” Tom Waits; “Christmas in Washington,” Steve Earle; and “St. Stephen’s Day Murders,” The Chieftains and Elvis Costello).

Having a bad back is like having a bad dog. You can feed it and scratch it and take it for walks but you never know when the sonofabitch is gonna bite you.

Nevertheless, I persisted, and with an assist from Herself (lemon bars with whipped cream) we took a bite of supper with Herself the Elder and then relaxed with some 22-year-old standup from Marc Maron, Dave Attell, and Mitch Hedberg on Comedy Central.

Eye see you.

This morning it seemed some portal to another dimension had opened while we slept off the grub and giggles. You can see it up there to the right of the backyard maple.

And unless I miss my guess this other shot at right is either of the Eye of Sauron or Cthulhu’s bunghole. Red eye or brown eye, it’s not something you want to see before coffee, especially with a dodgy back that hampers your ability to flee in terror.

The sun is peeking out now, and I may go for a short hobble, see if I can jar all my scattered bits back into their proper places.

But I tell you what: If a chiropractor had beckoned to me from that interdimensional gateway, I’da jumped through it like a bad dog hopping a fence, howling, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn?” (“By any chance do you take Medicare?”)

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22 Responses to “X’dmas”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    A heating pad and 36 hours of Aleve will untie the knots in those back muscles.

  2. Tony Geller Says:

    Speaking of traditional Christmas carols, I just learned of John Waters’s Christmas album from Fresh Air with Terry Gross. You might already know of it, but if not, it’s worth looking up.

  3. Michael Porter Says:

    Merry Christmas 🎄 Patrick

    You should add Paul Kelly’s “How To Make Gravy” to your classic list of Christmas Tunes.

    From the Porter family

  4. Herb from Michigan Says:

    POB is right. Skip the quack-o-practor. Methinks your quads and hammies are tight and shortening as they will with time. See if you can massage and stretch them out which seriously helps with low back pain. I got to try me that chicken recipe. As for the lemon bars, oh yeah!!

    • JD Says:

      Gentle rolling of them (quads/hammies), which can be somewhat “tense and exciting” the first few times will help. BUT, you’ve got to stick with it. And hope, at our ages, you can get up from that! 🙂

  5. Tony Geller Says:

    And how could we forget Fairytale of New York by The Pogues? I’d say tied with Christmas Card from a Hooker for first place.

  6. Dave Watts Says:

    You and me both. Mine still hurts like h – e – double hockey sticks from a few days ago when I’m quite sure (my wife is real sure) I shouldn’t have gone off to work with all the pain pills in me and on a real busy day. But I did, and the back responded in its usual way of reminding me that I was stupid to report to The Man, and it remains twitchy. A cough in the wrong direction is all it would take to put me in traction.

    Pretty sure I made things worse for the back when, for a couple decades, made nothing of lifting Schwinn Air Dynes in lots of 20 or more, right off the back of the trucks and into the store. I was invulnerable all those decades ago, I guess. Not.

    What helps me when these things go that way, besides the pain remedies and spirits, is to lay flat on the bad back on a real hard floor for a while, which relaxes all the muscles and tendons and such. And make sure you have a cane with you so you can get back upright.

    Get well, and have a happy new year!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve told this story before: I first blew up my back back around 1976 while in college, delivering appliances for beer money.

      One day the main man, Ed the Beard, was unavailable for some reason, and I and a roomie had to wrangle this giant refrigerator into an upstairs apartment. I was working the top of the hand truck and it ended badly. Next day I couldn’t get out of bed without help.

      Tried the docs and their drugs (plus a few from my own personal stash), but nix. After an extended period of noisy suffering someone recommended a backcracker. Dude was about a thousand years old and his workbench was even older, looked like something out of Nazi torture porn. He arranged me in the thing, made it move, and hey presto! I was fixed. ¡Que milagro!

      Every few years the injury revives itself, almost always when I can least afford to be crippled up. The right side of the pelvis comes up and forward; my right leg ends up shorter than the left, which loses strength; other muscles get drafted into the war effort, which extends into the left upper back as the torso twists; and the whole deal feels not unlike the tortures of the damned (or so I imagine).

      In Bibleburg my friend and chiropractor Lori Cohen was always able to put me back in working order, but she passed away the same year we moved down here to The Duck! City. I’ve never found another one like her, so I do without.

      I don’t like taking drugs anymore, so I try to be patient and stretch my way out of it. Avoid sitting for long periods. Take a hot shower before bedtime. That sort of thing.

      The good news is I can’t overdo in this miserable state because I can’t do much of anything. Today I walked for an hour and that felt OK.

      Lying on a hard floor is good, though getting down and back up again can be challenging. And this time I discovered entirely by accident that standing next to the kitchen counter and laying my torso flat on top of it seems to help realign me (plus it’s easier to get up again).

      Funny thing is, it’s never some extravagant thing that breaks my back: city-limit sprint, hill repeats, picking up weighty objects, bungie jumping, etc. It’s always something trivial like bending down to pick up a quarter or stretching up to grab some item from a tall shelf. Naturally, I blame Sleepy Joe.

  7. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Sore back can come from too much sitting which is why we should get up, or off when riding, and stretch every now and then. Some docs call lower back soft tissue pain the sitting disease. You are sitting when you are riding a bike.

  8. Shawn Says:

    Here’s to wishing your back well today. Have you been able to train (aka: convince) the cat to step up on you and knead your lower back with her claws, all the while purring away?

    Your sky images had me thinking about the James Webb. Perhaps the colorful effects are the cosmic rays zapping down to us from the the Webb because it is not really a telescope to capture distant images from the past, but a surveillance device funded by the Amazon-Google-Facebook-SpaceX-etc, etc. syndicate to insure that we perform as they wish. You know, like mind control and all that stuff. That’s what I read on the internet from that guaranteed to be authentic truth bullTrump website. I’m sure glad I have some foil left over from my Christmas ham. I needed a new hat.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      That launch of the Webb observatory was really something to watch. When the springs kicked it off the rocket stage and then the solar panel unfurled, I was amazed. Space springs?

      • Shawn Says:

        I suppose I should be sorry to say that I don’t feel too disappointed about the $10B put into Webb’s development, manufacture (crafting), and launch. I was very, very happy to see it get up to separation altitude. There’s been mention that if something went wrong with the unfurling of the telescope or it’s shield, that we wouldn’t be able to service it. I suspect that if that does occur, there might already be a hush-hush plan developed to send a repair mission to it. I sure would have dedicated a small team of scientists to the task.

        Investing money into global cooperative science seems like a good thing to me. We don’t all agree on how we should live, but we sure need to learn to work together to make sure that we have someplace to live.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I’m all in for good science, but only if we can feed and clothe the hungry too. First thing I thought of reading this thread was this old one (and those of you who follow my ranting know what’s next):

  9. DownhillBill Says:

    Had my share of the back problems (mostly a ruptured L2 disc) to the point that I worked on designing an electric rack device based on a Harbor Freight truck winch. Never implemented due to a lack of confidence in my designs for the safety/fail safe mechanisms.

    I do find that not going to work is the next best thing. 8)

  10. khal spencer Says:

    How are you doing, Patrick? Just catching up on my Innertubes musing. Back any better? Have you ever had it MRI’ed or X-rayed to see what the damage was, specifically?

    I herniated a disk back in the spring of 2005 and it was all sorts of fun for months. Not sure what caused the injury as in the space of a day, I missed a step in the Chemistry and Mettalurgy Building and did a jarring landing, did an ass over handlebars on the mountain bike, and then was vacuuming the house that night. Reached down to pick up the vacuum cleaner and next thing I knew I was flat on my back in unbelievable pain. Dragged (literally) myself to a chair and crawled onto it to rest.

    Hobbled to the ER the next morning. Doc asked me if I peed my pants. I said no, and asked him why he asked me that. He said it was probably a disk herniation and since I didn’t lose bladder control, was probably not a bad one. He gave me a steroid shot in the ass and it slowly got better.

    My own doc said to try to keep the back muscles strong in order to keep the spine aligned. It bothers me from time to time but that herniation put The Fear in me (as well as resulted in putting a riser stem on the Cannondale, so I try to keep the back strong.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Coming along, Bubba, coming along. Light stretching, some walking, no running or cycling, as little sitting as I can manage. All it takes is time, and as a retiree I have plenty of that.

      I had no medical insurance when I collected the initial injury in 1976, and that situation did not improve over the years (newspapers, freelancing, etc.). More than once we did without as we made the switch from newspaperman and retailer to contractor and librarian. And in my experience doctors are largely useless when it comes to chronic pain. (“Yeah, that’s fucked up. Lemme write you a ’scrip.'”)

      Lori Cohen advised regular stretching and yoga, but I waved it off because the view never changes when you’re tying yourself into knots on the mat. I like being outdoors. I should probably take her advice before she comes back to haunt me.

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