The other day, I got a pain near my mid-lower back like some awful thing was trying to grab and pull off a handful of flesh, for what nefarious purpose I fear to speculate even within the realm of this simile.
The lay-diagnosis (from acquaintances and coworkers) was something like a back spasm or pinched nerve, and I still have no idea what it was, clinically, except that every few minutes I was struck with what I can happily say was the worst pain I remember in my life.
I say, “happily” because if it’s true, that means till recently I’ve either had things pretty good or forgotten something much worse, so it’s as if it never happened, anyway. And at some moment in the future, I’ll stop and gasp, “This is even worse than the back spasms!”, and I’m not at all looking forward to that.
But yes, this was remarkably unpleasant. Every few minutes, it would hit, and more regularly if I moved in the wrong way, but only some of the time.
That was the true horror, really. Not being able to prepare for the arrival of the shock. So bracing myself and being unrewarded with agony for some movement, the next time that I had to make the same one, some small part of my brain held out hope that it wouldn’t come this time either, and of course that’s when it felt twice as bad.
I went in to the office still experiencing it because, well, I am an idiot, but mainly because this situation had come upon me quite suddenly, growing out of a typical soreness, and — all at once, it seemed — turned into this effectively sadistic invisible monster, trailing just behind with a sharp-clawed hand. Surely it would grow bored and stop jabbing at me and wander off again. (Surely.)
And indeed, that’s what appears to have happened, just not that day.
So for the remainder of the time I was able to function, as my coworkers shook their heads watching me grit my teeth, moan and occasionally whimper, I got to experience the onset of age prematurely, and it was a frightening thing.
For a man whose primarily attractiveness as a person is rakish, boyish charm, that sort of knocked out everything I do and am capable of doing.
When you’re 24 and have to ask a 23-year-old to help you plug something in under a desk, because you’re really less afraid of the pain of getting out of the chair than you are of weeping openly in front of all the reporters after you do it, it cuts deep. And while I accept that eventually and know I’ll one day have to talk in neutral tones about how the cold weather causes a certain soreness to act up, now is too soon.
My hairline recedes and could turn noticeably gray by 30, and if that happens, so be it. Let my teeth rot out and crumble. But I’m not quite ready to be hobbled by mysterious ailments yet, and I wish time and age and the universe would consult with me first before doing these things to me, siccing these monsters on me.
The sharp-nailed fellow did wander off on its own. If what they say is true and agony is just the removal of ecstasy, I think it’s fair to point out the opposite holds true, or can. I’m filled with a remarkable sense of well-being now, by virtue only of feeling no irregular anguish.
No, I know. Eventually it will return or something like it, but hopefully I’ll have 20 years till then. Or at least some very good pills.