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I’ve been diagnosed with Acute Mechanical Back Syndrome.

Yeah, I hurt my back.

Chronic pain is different from acute pain, which isn’t cute at all. Years ago I spent several hours at a business fire, most of it with a steel breathing air tank on my back because I was a dumb rookie. You know those big external fuel tanks on the space shuttle? Like that, only on your back. The newer air tanks are lighter, but—too late.

Now my back hurts all the time more or less, but you get used to it. More or less. Chronic back pain is like members of Congress who just keep getting elected, and never quite go away.

Then there’s acute pain. One time at an accident scene I pulled a back muscle while helping to carry a body up an embankment. (Yeah.) I managed to crab-walk into the rescue truck, got home without whimpering too much, and died. This was back in the days when firefighters didn’t admit to pain, or to being without insurance.

That’s acute pain, which I don’t usually get in exciting ways. At fires I’ve had ceilings fall on me, faced venting propane tanks, been on burning roofs, and once I missed a step in a smoke-filled building and fell down a flight of stairs.  (I’ve also done that in buildings that weren’t burning, but I’d rather not talk about it.) Generally I’m a pretty dull person, but every now and then I get into a situation.

But when I really get hurt? Never an interesting story, unless I embellish. This time, for instance, I’ve been laid up for days with intense lower back pain. What did I do? Rescue a kitten from a bear? Put out a flaming cocktail bar? Yank on Chuck Norris’ cowboy hat?


I jumped over a puddle.

Yep. Just did an extra-big scissor step over some water, and felt a “twang!” like an overstretched guitar string. Then came the acute pain.
“I’ll be better tomorrow,” I told my wife. I wasn’t. I hurt so bad I couldn’t even write. Luckily for me she’s an excellent nurse, although she did overdo it a bit on al the stuff she made me do. Heat, cold, pills, rest—sheesh. On Monday I crawled into the doctor’s office, and he prescribed some stuff that had me counting the little rainbows spinning around on the ceiling. Then he gave me possibly the best advise any man who wants to heal could possibly get:

“Do whatever your wife tells you to.”

Yeah, those breathing air tanks. I had more air and more hair.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 22nd, 2015 11:34 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry about you hurting your back. I hope you can get some good pain mangement going so you can feel better.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 04:25 am (UTC)
Well, I'm on a super-heavy duty pain reliever and an excellent muscle relaxer ... but I don't actually know if they manage the pain, because I'm sleeping.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 01:02 am (UTC)
Back pain is the WORST. Following your wife's orders is some of the best advice I've heard a doctor give. (Although in my mom's case, the doctor should have told her to follow my or my dad's orders.)
Jun. 23rd, 2015 04:26 am (UTC)
Well, in my life so far kidney stones have been worst! But this is a definite second.
Jun. 23rd, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC)
Oh you poor thing! Get better soon
Jun. 23rd, 2015 07:01 pm (UTC)
Soon couldn't come soon enough!
Jun. 23rd, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC)
Ouch - always nasty when you do something like that to your back. It's so irritating when you pull something doing an action that seems so minor I've put my back out pulling up the bedclothes when making the bed before now *eyeroll*.
Jun. 24th, 2015 03:55 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's always something minor, isn't it?
Jun. 24th, 2015 04:08 pm (UTC)
Ow. Hope you feel better soon. (And listen to your wife! :-) )
Jun. 24th, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
I asked the doc how fast this would heal, and the reply was "you're not 18 anymore". I suspect that means it'll take awhile.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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