Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let's Get (a) Physical


With my dental nightmare seemingly behind me, I've been feeling awfully good lately. (You really don't appreciate NOT being in pain until you are. Go figure!) Consequently, it seemed like the perfect time to finally go have my blood drawn, something my doctor has been after me to do since the spring for my annual physical. A week later I'm walking down 8th Avenue to meet Michael for lunch on Sunday when suddenly and inexplicably -- oh, and most importantly, EXCRUCIATINGLY -- my back suddenly went out on me in front of the Thai restaurant Room Service near the corner of 18th Street. Everyone warned me that "everything begins to go at 40," but I was ill-prepared to feel like I was literally DYING in the middle of the sidewalk in broad daylight at age 42. There happens to be a bench right there now (a gift from god, perhaps. I'd never seen it before) and I fell on it not even really sure what was happening. At first, I thought one of my lungs had collapsed as I was no longer getting enough oxygen to function. But when I didn't drop dead on the spot I began to realize there was actually something wrong with my back -- like a knife in my right shoulder blade, more specifically -- something so excruciating that it was simply too painful to inhale all the way. 

Fortunately, Michael then came along and after contemplating what we "should do" (the ER seemed like an idea, but getting there would have been nearly impossible and the idea of waiting five hours to be seen by a doctor made me even more tense), he headed home to see if he had any pain killers as he called a doctor friend of ours. (Dr. Sergei suggested two Motrins and two extra strength Tylenols, saying it was "as strong" as a Vicodin.) After struggling to swallow them (by now I was bent over like a human question mark and lifting pills and/or a water bottle to my mouth was nearly impossible), we just sat and waited. Waited as all the hot boys of Chelsea strolled by on a glorious afternoon as I suddenly felt like Tim Conway's "old man" character on "The Carol Burnett Show" -- only without the Andy Warhol wig and with unspeakable pain. (If you saw me there I commend you for not pointing and laughing. It HAD to have looked hilarious!) About an hour or more later, I finally could breathe a little more comfortably, so I called in sick to work and headed home, where I stayed in bed for the next 14 hours. I felt measurably better on Monday -- although god forbid I need to sneeze! -- but my friend "who knows about these things" is certain there's a slipped disk involved. Early in the evening I checked my voicemail and my doctor's office called to say my blood work was back and "everything looks great." What a relief to know I'm in perfect health, on paper if nothing else.


Christopher said...

Currently, I'm dealing with a jacked up back as well. (I've got a pinched nerve between my left shoulder blade and spine). You described the pain (that I experienced) perfectly. The pain woke me up at 5 am (ungodly hour), and I thought that I was dying (at 41!!)

Hope you feel better soon amigo!

Anonymous said...

As a survivor of a herniated disk in my lower back (at the young age of 29), I can relate to your pain. After a few years of rehabilitation I jumped on the get-fit bandwagon and the last two years I've completed a full marathon (at age 39 and 40).

No worries Kenneth. Just don't procrastinate and go see a medical doctor.

My thoughts and prayers are with you for a quick recovery. And from the Midwest, a big thank you for the wonderful blog. I'm living life in the big city vicariously through you! :)