'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
FINALLY A MEMBER OF THE BAD BACK CLUB
They say if you meet someone and want to make him feel like you are a couple of long lost friends, especially if he is over 40, just say, “How’s the ol’ back doing? Feeling any better?”
Approximately 99 out of 100 times (some say 100 out of 100 times) he will thank you for remembering, and then give you a medical update—oftentimes lasting longer than the entire Gerald Ford administration—about his back problems. This is sure to happen because approximately 99 out of 100 adults (some say 100 out of 100) have sore backs, everything from the occasional ache, all the way to debilitating ruptured discs and chronic pain.
The odds were against me, but I was hoping to reach age 50 before having back problems. Oh well, at least I got within a few months of my goal.
I’m fully aware that middle age is the time of life when various body parts begin either to wrinkle, shrivel, swell up, or just fall off. I’ve been very blessed that for almost five decades I have not had any serious back problems. That is, until a Saturday morning in mid-December.
My snowblower needed repairs. To get the machine from my driveway to the repair shop, I first had to get it into the back of a station wagon. I squatted down, got a firm grip on either side of the snowblower, and then slowly lifted it off the ground. To get it into the open hatchback door, I had to raise it a few more inches and in the same motion swing it sideways into the car.
With great effort I got it in. But as I did, there were three simultaneous sounds. I said, “Oooomff!” The snowblower, as it landed in the car, said, “Thump!” And at the same time, something deep in my lower back said, “Sproing!”
At first I didn’t feel anything except a warm glow at the base of my spine. Then an electric, tingling sensation radiated upward towards my ribs and downward into my legs. “Uh oh,” I said. “This can’t be good.”
After about 10 seconds the electric tingling transformed into a thousand razor blades slicing into every nerve ending in my torso. I clenched my teeth, and as tears welled up in my eyes, I realized that in an instant I had gone from age 49 to age 89.
If I had been able to bend over, I would have looked under the car to see if a couple of strategic body parts had fallen off and rolled away. It sure felt like they did.
I shuffled slowly back into the house, and for the rest of the day I tried to relax and find a comfortable position. Since my back hurt when I was either standing or sitting, moving or being still, lying down or not lying down, it was kind of difficult to find a comfortable position.
Later on, when I was changing my clothes, I realized why so many elderly folks wear Velcro sneakers. Tying my laces proved to be a bit of a challenge since I could only reach down as far as my knees.
Thankfully, a couple of weeks later I felt a little better—all the way down to about age 69. From now on if there’s any heavy equipment in need of lifting, I’ll let my wife, all 102 pounds of her, do it. In the meantime I’m going to get a flashlight and go outside—I need to locate a couple of missing strategic body parts. (Oh, you have a dirty mind. I mean two vertebrae.)
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