Thursday, September 10, 2020

BACK to the Future

2020 seems in some ways to be the year of BACK. In our 6th month of the ‘Vid, we’re looking back at the Plague with a new sense of understanding (I predict plague-doctor masks will be popular this Halloween if Halloween isn’t canceled); we’re looking back with melancholy at life before the ‘Vid, when you could hug your BFF without plastic sheeting and a decontamination suit; we’re looking back longingly at the days before -45, to a president who spoke in complete sentences and tackled problems in the open instead of squirming in the dark to find some other rat to toss under the bus; we’re circling back to the systemic racism we’d been trying to ignore, ignited by a litany of recent deaths of Black victims at the hands of police; and we’re thinking back to an Earth in balance, before our meddling and disregard gave us one perpetual fire/hurricane/drought/flood/blizzard season.

Here at the Re-Row (reinventing Uncannery Row in peafowlless Little Town), we’ve taken BACK quite literally. In a move that can only be described as “clown ballet,” I rode my bike into Ray’s back tire. With post-stroke balance-challenged finesse, I flew off the bike and landed in a heap on the pavement, Ray in a tizzy standing over me. Okay, so brush it off, bandage the hand and knee, be grateful I didn’t hit my helmetless head (lesson learned), and move on.

SO worth it!

That was Saturday. On Sunday, we spent a little over an hour stooping, diving, and contorting in the garden, picking tomatoes. Near the end, as I reached for a beautiful Roma, my back spasmed. I stood slowly, walked a bit, and seemed to feel okay. So naturally, we went kayaking. When we got back home, after a bumpy hour-long drive in our little pickup Snowflake, I couldn’t straighten up. Thus began the saga.

Cruising on the Susan B.

Fast forward through the next week and four days of urgent chiropractic care. My right side was like the seeds of injuries from my clumsy crash, coming to glorious fruition—right shoulder I’d landed on, right hand and wrist I’d used to try and break my fall, right knee scraped clean to new pink skin, right hip torked into an exciting new angle. By Wednesday, my back was feeling better, though I’d developed what seemed to be sciatica—every step of my right foot sent a sudden, electric shockwave down my right leg, ending at my ankle.

But wait—there’s more. Wednesday afternoon, I hobbled out to the back yard with the dogs. Yogi, our 14-year-old Schnoodle, ran for the fence to bark at a passing dog, sat down, and wouldn’t get up. When I finally coaxed him to come to me, he pulled himself along slowly, DRAGGING his lifeless BACK legs. I carried him in the house, panic making me ignore my own back pain. I called Ray, who agreed to leave work and make the hour-drive home so we could get Yogi to the vet.

Yogi (L) and Pedro

In the meantime, I did what I always do in a crisis—research. I got online and looked for answers (I could sit at my computer, an ice pack wedged between my lower back and the chair, without crying).

In a panic, one gravitates toward the worst-case scenario, which, in my case, meant convincing myself that Yogi had DM (Degenerative Myelopathy). It’s progressive and fatal. The prognosis is 1-3 years of incontinence, pain, and possibly doggie wheelchairs. So now I was home in my kitchen, pre-grieving, in pain, and sobbing. I got Yogi settled, cold-packed my puffy face, then went to my next chiro appointment.

Finally, off to the vet. The eventual diagnosis was that Yogi had IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease), and probably had either a bulging or ruptured disc. By this time Yogi could stand and walk (with lots of wobbling), and he had enough response in his back feet to make the doc feel some optimism. Steroids + muscle relaxers + no activity.

The chiropractor finally told me that I may have a bulging disc, and that I should see a medical doc. In the meantime, ice + ibuprofen. I could hobble around the kitchen, using the counter as a crutch, thus avoiding the lightning bolts by not stepping down on my right foot.

I got in to see the doc, and 14 X-Rays later (I should start glowing in the dark soon), learned that I have great bones with almost no arthritis (the X-Ray tech said, “You take really pretty pictures!”). I was just really banged up good, which is a medical diagnosis, I guess. The upshot was prescription-strength Aleve + ice + PT for the hip/sciatica.

As I sit here this morning, addicted I’m sure to 500 mg Aleve, with PT scheduled and Yogi happily napping at my feet, I wonder about the synchronicity of two creatures with sudden BACK disruptions—was Yogi’s back injury sympathetic? Was mine? some weird prescient warning of Yogi’s to come? Did we crack the space/time continuum? Or, was it all just a painful manifestation of the disaster that is 2020? I’ll never know, but I can laugh about it now. And I’m being VERY careful, because 2021 can’t come soon enough, and I never, ever want to go BACK.