A not-so-excellent adventure

(Photo from Camp Jeep in Nelson County, VA, in 2004)
(Photo from Camp Jeep in Nelson County, VA, in 2004)

The drive to see my mother is 33 miles from our driveway to the parking lot of her assisted living facility. It’s one that I’ve made dozens of times over the past few months, both in my Wrangler or on my motorcycle.

Wednesday’s drive, however, was my first since a back flareup put me down five days ago. It was also my first venture outside the house.

Getting into my Wrangler is tricky even without a back problem. You don’t get into a Wrangler. You climb in, and up, to an upright seat.  Lifting one leg over the high sill aggravated one of the nerves pinched by the bad disk in my back and sent sharp stabs of pain through that leg. I grabbed the hand strap at the bottom of the roll bar and into swung myself, cussing all the way, into the seat.

Mission half accomplished. Getting my right leg into position required lifting the calf with both hands and pulling it into place, accompanied by stabs of pain and an few choice words from my ever-growing library of profanity.

Once in place, I found the usually simple act of putting my seat belt on was now a careful exercise of pulling the belt and straps into place without too much pain from the still sensitive back.

Then came the hard part: Pushing in the clutch to start the car. The Wrangler has a safety switch that prevent starting the vehicle without depressing the clutch pedal. Halfway down, the muscles in my left leg spasmed and my foot slipped off the pedal.


Tried again, more carefully this time, and managed to hold the clutch in place long enough to start the engine.

Next obstacle: Looking behind me as I backed the Wrangler into the narrow area between our tractor and our motorcycle trailer at the top of the driveway. Turning my head to look sent more spasms of pain down my back and legs but I managed to back up without hitting anything, slipped the transmission into first and starred down the steep driveway. A few new ruts left by Tuesday’s rain deluge rattled my spine enough to send pain to every extremity.

Finally made it to the intersection of Harvestwood Road and U.S. 221 and discovered that the normally simple act of turning my head to the right to see if any traffic was coming around the semi-blind bend.  My head did not want to turn without a lot of effort and pain. Gritted my teeth, made sure the road was clear and let the clutch out (more agony) for the left-hand turn onto 221.

Now a Wrangler is not the smoothest-riding car in the world and my back’s sensitivity to movement made the 4.1 mile trip into Floyd a study in masochism. Made it though Floyd for the longer drive to mom’s facility while discovering that a comfortable driving position could not be found.

I arrived to find my mother had had a bad morning with a lot of pain and she did not recognize me through the fog of medication needed to keep her aches and pains under control.

Managed to get back to Floyd without incident, started u the driveway before hitting one of the new ruts at about five miles an hour. The jolt sent pain radiating from my lower back to the end of hands and feet.  She sudden onslaught left tears in my eyes before I turned left at the top of the driveway and drove to garage.

Turned the engine off and sat in the car for nearly 15 minutes, waiting for the pain to subside before I could begin the slow, methodical and painful process of getting from the out of the car and up the flight of steps that leads from the garage floor to the back door of the house.

Once inside, I took a muscle relaxer along with two glasses of water and collapsed (gently) onto the couch. Amy said I was out cold in under five minutes.

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4 thoughts on “A not-so-excellent adventure”

  1. My “other” has been struggling with back pain for years – this year went from bad to unbearable. You need to find a doctor to diagnose and treat. Back pain is serious stuff and only sissies don’t go to the doctor! You could be paralyzed if you’re not careful!

  2. This is astonishing. I posed the question in an earlier story about how you will get around. Last time it was drugged up, and physically impaired in a non predictable way. Pain can cause involuntary movements that not only endanger you, but everyone else on the road.

    Just about everyone I know has some back pain story. I have my own. It was 1985 and a 32 year old male is still bullet proof in his own mind. It started one day for no obvious reason or cause. I’ll call it sciatica since it was a cramping sensation in my left buttock. Sometimes not working is not an option and I’m a tradesman that moves heavy things, works in awkward positions, and on my feet all day. I can remember being a little concerned about crossing the street because the pain would sometimes buckle my knee. I managed my activity as best I could while still trying to make a living.

    Now comes the part that makes me think your choices are reckless.I was home alone one night as my ex wife was working that night as a waitress at the Pine Tavern. I was cooking dinner, gas fired up on the range top, me standing at a counter chopping stuff on a cutting board. Without warning I started to feel nauseous, it wasn’t going away. I had enough presence of mind to turn off the gas stove and was planning to get to the bathroom and puke. Instead, I found myself flat on the floor, not knowing how I got there or how long I had been there. It was too painful to move so I just lay there until I could manage to roll over and get to a hands and knees crawling position.

    So, that was inspirational to get a professional medical opinion. Even that was not possible for several days. I had a phone consultation with a doc that gave me script for high dose ibuprofen, nothing else. I had x-ray, CT scan, no diagnosis or treatment. I was back to where I was, moving around with some pain. I tried a chiropractor that cost too much and I felt worse after every visit than before I took a massage treatment. The only happy ending is this self resolved over a number of years and I haven’t had a recurrence in over 15 years.

    So, forgive me my attitude while you endanger others. You are a crusader against impaired drivers if it’s one item of your agenda.

    Just a thought. Surely you have some friends that will haul you around if you insist on going. Make one of those trips ASAP to your favorite healthcare provider.

  3. Based on Doug’s description of his “Wrangler” rides; I don’t know whether to take it as a hint for empathy/sympathy concerning his chronic ‘back problem’ or what…?!

    Myself and “rio semione” have offered ideas for the remediation of his pain, but instead we get these continuing accounts of his “kampf” concerning his daily struggles. / : |

    It seems he has a herniated disk or maybe several and continues to bite the “brass casing” sans a slug of whiskey to abate his mind-boggling pain.

    It would be refreshing to hear the results of the various MRI and Catscan tests you’ve undergone to date, along with the results Doug rather than accounts of your very painful “Wrangler” rides…?

    Carl Nemo **==

    p.s. Percoset gets the job done concerning pain, but it doesn’t do anything concerning a patient’s mindset in regard to facing up to the necessary therapy and possible surgery they will need in order to correct the situation. You might get lucky Doug and this current outbreak will go away, but then again maybe not !

  4. I feel for you. Try delivering the mail like that. Been there done that. You really need to go see Dr. Collins. Pills are just a band aid, sure they might stop or reduce the pain but you need treatment. Dr. Collins is a wonderful doctor and help me alot. The number one thing I miss about living in Floyd is Dr. C

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