Sunday I was bending over to push a tee into the soft ground on number 5 North when it happened — a sudden pop of hot red pain in the small of my back. I staggered a bit and tried to stretch it out, but it was no use. I attempted a pathetic shot at the green, then realized my day on the links was over.
It got worse, and by Monday my condition was even more painful. I couldn’t bend over without surging flashes and my walk was an old man’s shuffle. When I tried to walk the dogs Monday morning any misstep led to spasms and herky-jerky reactions that must have made me look like a fitfully directed marionette. I’ve tried taking ibuprofen and applying heat, but the improvement has been marginal, so today I’m seeing a doctor.
In addition to feeling like a Visigoth is hacking at the base of my spine, I’m also just disappointed in my back. With a few, brief exceptions it’s been a pretty good back. Not an athlete’s back or a weightlifter’s back, but solid, reliable, and fully capable of lugging multiple bags through an airport, holding two kids in my arms, or controlling wayward, lunging dogs without ill effect. We’ve been through good years together. What’s happened, my bodily friend? What has brought us to this painful point in our journey? Will you now become greedy and needy, demanding constant attention and tender care as part of my daily routine?
As I have been moving gingerly about the house and at work over the past two days, I’ve realized that the phrase “bad back” could be read not only as a description of a back’s condition, but also as a scolding admonition of a back that has fallen short of expectations — much as you might scold a dog that has chewed up a new pair of shoes. Bad back! Bad, bad back! That’s how I feel.