You Can’t Talk to My Back Right Now, It’s Out

I’ve never actually seen my back, but I know it’s there. I can feel its presence whenever it “goes out,” as they say, as if it has gotten dressed up and gone on a date—a date with pain.

My back is out right now, though I’m taking messages for it: Agony called and would like a session as soon as possible, and Torture phoned to say it admires my back’s work and feels outclassed.

I admit I was foolish, and deserve my pain for having done something reckless: I stood up. My back said “Whoa, what’s this crazy thing we’re doing, standing up for no reason? That’s it, I’m out.” This despite the fact that my doctor has prescribed me a whole series of back-strengthening exercises to avoid. (The avoiding part was my idea, based on the fact that if my back goes out for just standing up, imagine what it will do if I start twisting and stretching it.)

Being a functional, mentally healthy adult male, my first response to any injury is to Blame Someone Else. I went online to search for class-action lawsuits to which I might attach myself and thereby realize millions of dollars in compensation for attorneys. Under “Back Pain: Symptoms” I found this gem: “Symptom of back pain: pain in upper and/or lower back.”

That’s why I never went to law school: too many complicated legal concepts.

Unjustly cut off from a large legal settlement, I next decided to see whether I could find painkillers. Most doctors, I read, do not believe in prescribing narcotics for back pain, because they worry that their patients will become grateful. But I came across an interesting story about two college-aged men who dressed up as a rampaging rhino and ran around town trying to see whether they could panic people. Maybe if I did that, I reasoned, the cops would dart me and my pain would mercifully be abated, plus then when I woke up I could file a class-action lawsuit along with everyone else who had ever been wrongly shot with a tranquilizer while dressed as an escaped zoo animal.

Alas, the young men in question did not succeed in panicking people, because (a) no one knew they were supposed to be a rhino (in the picture, they look like more a gray canvas sack with a face) and (b) they had trouble rampaging because every time they ran they fell down.

I didn’t have the materials to make a more authentic-looking rhino outfit, and even if I did it wouldn’t be very realistic because I could only be the front end. I dismissed the otherwise brilliant rhino strategy because if the cops saw an animal that was missing the rear end of its body, they might shoot it with real guns just to put it out of its misery. I’d no doubt that this would end my back pain, as well as having the added benefit of giving me the opportunity to file a wrongful-death claim and really make some lawyer rich, but there were some downsides, too. Like, I doubted very much that my children would appreciate it if at my funeral everyone was laughing at what an idiot their father was.

Standard treatment for back pain includes taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory painkillers, and applying ice to the afflicted area. I elected to combine therapies by drinking blended margaritas. In fact, I’ll confess that the whole get-darted-as-a-rampaging-front-end-of-a-rhino idea came after I’d applied considerable ice to my affliction using the blended margarita method. Ironically, something similar was involved during the planning stages of the phony berserk-rhino episode, as the two men in question were ultimately charged with public intoxication. (Apparently there is no law against impersonating a pachyderm, which obviously there should be to obviate the otherwise irresistible temptation to which the young men succumbed.)

Alas, ice applied in the above fashion provides only temporary relief and can extract a greater toll in the end if your head reacts to tequila by calling some of the throbbing in your back to “come on up to the penthouse for a visit.”

In the end, it’s all a real pain in the butt.

~ Bruce Cameron ~
Copyright © 2011
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[ by W. Bruce Cameron Copyright © 2011 ( -- {used with permission} ]

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