I strained my lower back muscle recently. I wish I could say I was doing something really athletic, like perfecting a balance beam routine, or doing cartwheels, or putting on a pair of socks. But I wasn’t.

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I told my doctor I was picking up something from the floor, but that’s a lie too. I was actually washing my hair in our kitchen sink. Yep. I confess. I was running late and didn’t have time to shower, so that’s what I did.

As I reached for my conditioner, zzzzzipppp, I felt the pull in my lower back. And then flames of pain shot down my legs and all across my back. I finished my hair and when I straightened up to wrap my head in a towel, I knew I was in trouble.

First off, I let out a scream that had both dogs skidding down the hall and my husband George yelling, “What’s the matter?” I couldn’t even answer him. He came running into the kitchen and saw me bent over from the waist, my towel on the floor, my hair dripping all over the place.

Somehow, I got dressed, letting out little muffled screams the whole time. I shuffled to my desk, and slowly lowered myself into my chair, still emitting odd squeaks of pain. I may have used a few swear words, too. I can’t remember.

Try to get in and out of a wheeled desk chair on a tiled floor when one’s back is sore. To do it, I had to grasp my desk with one hand and position the chair just so. Then I lowered myself into it, grunting loudly.

Getting out was a bigger deal. I planted my feet on the ground, grabbed onto the armrests, and raised myself up slowly. The chair started to roll across the floor away from me. So I’m bent over, holding onto the armrests and trying to stop the chair’s forward momentum. I was also providing a soundtrack that goes a little like this: “HOLY crap, ouch, $#%&, kill me now.” I finally got the chair to stop rolling and was able to pry my hands from the armrests.

Another monumental task when one’s lower back is in flames is trying to use the facilities. Getting on is not too terrible but getting off? Not so good. By the time I accomplished that feat, I was drenched in sweat and my legs were shaking. The dogs were hiding. I guess I must have been screaming again.

I had a lot of suggestions to ease the pain. One person said for me to lie face down on the floor and have George massage my back. My question to that was, “And how do we plan on getting me OFF the floor?” Someone else said chiropractor. That would be great, except I couldn’t even get into a car to get to the chiropractor office. Ice, heat, Advil, a shot of whiskey, a hot bath were some more suggestions.

My back pain continued for several days. I began to add random shrieks to my repertoire of swearing anytime I moved. Even turning my head was painful. I looked it up. There are 40 muscles in the back. They control, like, almost every part of one’s body. During this period of back pain, I swear I sprouted 40 additional muscles, all on fire. Therefore, when I reached for something, or turned a certain way, I soon developed the habit of screeching. I also did a lot of heavy breathing and not the good kind, if you get my drift.

Some good things did come out of my having a sore back and walking bent over like I was looking for spare change on the ground. I noticed that our hardwood floors were looking a bit dull. I also noticed that I needed a pedicure.

The doctor sent out a muscle relaxer. The first time I took it, within an hour, I could not have spelled my name correctly. It relaxed my muscles, all right.

So here’s my advice for anyone with the bad luck to throw one’s back out. It’s simple and easy to remember. Here it is: Don’t. Do. It.

Ilene Black has been a resident of Ewing for most of her life and lives across the street from her childhood home. She and her husband, George, have two sons, Georgie and Donnie.

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