Monday, April 08, 2013

"Back" Again, So Soon?

Today I'm going to write about something very personal, that I've been hoping would eventually go away. It hasn't. What I'm writing about is my failing health. I know there's other folks out there with similar situations, and I hope this is helpful to you too.

I have to go back in time, around 35 years, to give you the full scope of how my health problems began. When I was 19 years old, I was in a bad car accident. A carload of friends, including myself, had a head on accident with an extremely large tree. I was in the back seat and smashed head first into the seat in front of me. I broke my nose, and my upper front teeth came all the way through my bottom lip. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I also messed up my neck. Some of the other kids in the car were hurt much worse than me. One girl was in a coma for around 2 months, so who was I to complain?

10 years later, I began my career working with people having developmental disabilities. I was in pretty good shape, so transferring folks from wheelchair to various tables, toilets, and chairs was no big deal (so I thought). I was always one of the stronger people in my different jobs, so I'd inevitably be counted on to lift more than my co-workers. It was what it was. Sometimes, when you lift dead weight, like another human being, they will tend to slip out of your hands, and I'm extremely proud that I never let one person fall. I had no idea at the time, the price my back was paying. That's the type of work I did for the next 25 years.

Eventually, I began having less lifting, as part of my work day, but it was too late. My back began bothering me. It's hard to point at exactly when it started, but I would say it was 7 or 8 years ago. At the time I was involved in installing portable (yeah, right) air conditioners in the homes of people with disabilities. One day, as I was installing my third air conditioner of the day, I felt something tingling then hurting in my lower back. When I tried to get out of bed the following morning, I realized I was truly injured. I stayed in bed for 3 days, before I was able to get up and move.

Slowly my back began to feel better, so I didn't go to the doctor. Big mistake! Within a few weeks the pain was back, and I was forced to go. They recommended some stretches and exercises, but they didn't do much to help, so I stopped after a month or so. I began hoping that with rest, and being careful, my back would get better on its' own. No such luck. Now I'm at the point where in order to do the dishes, sweep the floors, cut grass, or go up and down the stairs to do laundry must be done in 10 minute shifts. It's frustrating, but there's shit I gotta do!

Will my back ever get better? Highly doubtful at this stage of the game. I'm getting older, and doing the simplest of tasks has become a burden. If only... If only I'd taken better care of my body, instead of using it as a work tool. If only I'd started with some serious rehab. sooner. If only I'd paid better attention to the signals my body was trying to send me... I'm pretty sure it's not. My looming question? What do you do at 57 for work when you can't do what you've done for the past 27 years??


Parfil said...

Getting older is a fact of life. Buck up. Hang in, start the revolution. Watch Dr. Phil. Write your congressman. Make the world a better place. Advocate as you do. Take time to look for the beauty. Smile more because it stretches out the wrinkles. A lot of people love you.

David McDonald said...

I'll do everything you suggest except watch Dr. Phil.