It’s about 7.30 in the morning and I’m finishing tidying up in the kitchen after breakfast. I’ve loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the benches and emptied the rubbish bin. I bend over to replace the bin liner, and as I stand up I feel a strange and uncomfortable sensation in my lower back. The best I can describe it as is if something in my back had ‘let go’. I try to dismiss it as just another case of my joints ‘popping’, but I don’t fool myself – my back is sore already. Stretching only makes it more painful so I decide to sit down and rest for a minute. However, as I start walking…ZAP! A bolt of lightning (intensely sharp pain) shoots down my right leg, causing my knee to give way. I lurch to the right although miraculously avoid falling over. I pause for a few seconds while I recover. I bend my back slightly just to…ZAP! The pain hits me again, hard. I reflexively cry out in pain and jolt my back upright. This time it’s only in my lower back although it is still razor sharp. By now I’m panicking and I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. What the heck is happening to me!? I think of the times I’ve hurt my back previously. I’ve had a few ‘twinges’ at work and in the garden. Oh and then there was that time when I was nursing Dylan. Even so I’ve rarely had any lasting back aches or pains. Surely then it isn’t possible that I’ve hurt my back now, simply from bending over…? Is it? And while I grapple with this question I also know that I have never experienced pain this excruciating before, and I can’t shake a horrible feeling that somehow, I’ve caused real damage to my back this time. Perhaps these previous injuries, as minor as they may have seemed, have caught up with me at last.
So here I am, standing in my kitchen while I brace my back, praying this is only temporary. Seconds feel like minutes. I tell myself ‘I’m too busy to be standing here motionless all day’ so I brave another step. No lightning, just that intense dull ache. I take another. So far so good. I feel a glimmer of hope that maybe I ‘fixed it’ when I jolted my back last time. But as I take a third step the electricity shoots through my spine, knocking the wind out of my lungs. Now to be fair I don’t know what lightning feels like (not many people do!), but if I had to guess, this would be it. Each time I feel that pain it takes all of my strength not to pass out. Perhaps scariest of all is that it seems like just about any back movement can trigger it.
Eventually I make it to the table, where my mobile phone lies. All of sudden I feel completely exhausted, but I can’t sit down, so I just lean against the table instead. I do this for what must be minutes, carefully controlling my breathing and trying not to move any more than necessary. [Inhale] I can get through this. [Exhale] This pain will pass soon. My thoughts shift back to the pressing issues at hand. I pick up the phone from the table (bracing myself the whole way). Is it worth calling the doctor’s clinic or should I go straight to hospital? How do I get there? Ambulance? Mum can surely look after Dylan in the meantime…but what about work? We’ve had a stack of bills recently so I really can’t afford to miss any. I dial my parents’ number… “Dad! I’m in trouble – I’ve hurt my back…”
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