Backs. We sort of take them for granted, being that we hardly ever see them. They are sort of just there, barely distinguishable from others, propping us up, joining top to bottom. But when they do go wrong…
And pain, like time, is supposed to be relative. Relative to your tolerance, to what you’ve experienced before, even, apparently, dependant on your attitude. Not that any of this was on my mind when, on Thursday, I injured mine, triggering a wave of spasms lasting two days, and with them pain I’d not really known the likes of before.
So as I lay there, begging for anything to take the pain away, my girlfriend set about making some calls. NHS Direct said maybe kidney stones, but to put some ice on it, take some painkillers (obviously, I’d stuffed everything I could find down my throat by this point), see how it goes. The GP, on hearing me groaning in the background, said he’d pop around, which 13 minutes later, he did. By the time he left I was on paracetamol, ibuprofen, diazepam (as a muscle relaxant) and some morphine-like opiate. An hour later, the edge just dropping away from the pain, it turned out I’m allergic to opiates, and so spent the next 12 hours being violently sick – not the ideal movement when you’re trying to remain perfectly still. Finally, after 36 hours without sleep, food and an absence of acute pain, the concoction of chemicals rendered me into a most welcome near-coma. And this morning, apart from feeling like a zombie whose been beaten by sticks, all is not bad.
Anyway, this has given me a newfound respect for people who put up with pain long-term. When the minutes become hours become days, it grinds you down, and you start to wonder if this is how you’ll always feel. The next time somebody tells me they are in a lot of pain, I’ll regard them with renewed empathy.