Before I go any farther, I must pause to say that I realize how very lucky I am to call this story an impossible one. I know that truly impossible situations exist all around us, far worse than mine. And so, with this in mind, I come to you to ask you to read another chapter. Come suspend your awareness of Real Struggle a bit longer, and indulge me by granting me your most heartfelt commiseration as I tell you what happened next.
I’ve been paralyzed about writing this chapter. The others poured out of me, but this one is harder to write. I suppose because it centers on an issue that I found less comical than the others. Granted, none of it seemed remotely funny at the time, but now in retrospect I see how bizarre and hilarious it all was. All but this chapter.
You see there’s been a silent character at work all throughout this story, and really throughout the last year of my life. A character I resent deeply. I hate that it is a part of this otherwise rip-roaringly good time we’ve been having here. But, to be true to the impossible story, I must tell it all. And so here we go…
Even as I began to put this down, lightning was cracking wickedly close to my window at the very moment that thunder was visibly rattling everything on my desktop. Black clouds were rolling in and wrapping themselves around the Empire State building, forging a premature nighttime on a summer afternoon. It’s like the weather was mad that I’d chosen to tell you about this dark part to the impossible story.
Starting about a year ago I began having intermittent lower back pain that roamed between my left hip and left sacroiliac joint.
What is this sacroiliac joint you ask? Well, until recently, I too knew very little about this joint of many consonants. I only knew this region affectionately as the “butt dimples”…
Yes, you know the region. These two little dimples, one on the left and one on the right of the base of one’s spine. These dimples are a hot bed off issues. There is an infinite number of problems one could have with one’s sacroiliac joints. And this one was afflicted in the worst way.
Standing hurt, lying down hurt. Sitting golum-like in a chair pretending to relax while watching TV hurt. Really, any kind of stillness hurt. The only thing that didn’t hurt was staying in motion. Mainly, doing yoga. But I had a sneaking suspicion that yoga also wasn’t helping. This my friends, was a conundrum. I am addicted to yoga. I like it – Love it – more than almost anything else. To give it up in the midst of all this wedding planning/apartment moving/extermination turmoil would be a bigger sacrifice than I could handle.
The pain started as an annoyance but developed to searing, exhausting, distracting, happiness-sucking distress. It would disappear after a few weeks of torture only to come back again just when I thought all was well, creeping up on me and blinding me to all the joy around me.
I had ignored it for the better part of the last year, afraid to find out that anything might be wrong right before I took the most important step in my life. But, three weeks until wedding bells, two weeks until moving day, and well into the trenches of living the impossible story, the pain became too consuming to ignore. I had to admit defeat. There was simply no way that given the level of pain I was facing, I could walk down the aisle with a real smile on my face. Something had to be done.
And so May 1st came with a trip to NYU Medical get an MRI which revealed a torn disc between the L4 and 5 vertebrae. I was practically vibrating with questions. Oh I was a wreck. I mean, at least now I knew I wasn’t crazy – i.e. suffering from localized anxiety about the wedding only in my butt dimple. But this news came at a price. It turned out that the only way to fix it, and fast, was with a double epidural injection into the spine to subdue the inflammation. Did I mention I HATE needles? Especially giant needles. Giant needles that I was not prepared to face any more than any other aspect of child birth. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Shouldn’t I get the pay off of an adorable newborn if I was going to face the giant needle? This was unjust!
As I continued to press with my exuberant list of questions, I discovered that much like the bedbug crisis, this issue is one fraught with mystery. Beyond the initial explanation – you have insects living in your furniture/you have a torn disc in your spine, the professionals couldn’t tell me much about how and why it had happened. Spinal problems, their onset and their trajectory, are as shrouded in the unknown as the habits and migratory patterns of the North American Bed Bug.
Typical impossible situation. Universe smiting me for no apparent reason.
One of my most vivid memories as I attempted to understand the diagnosis was the doctor telling me to imagine the problem disc between my vertebrae like a jelly donut —- Already a bad image, I hate nothing more than a jelly donut.
Honestly, is there anything worse?
And then to imagine, that due to a traumatic event or perhaps a series of traumatic events, or perhaps due to wear and tear and general life-living, the donut had torn or become squished.
I mean. Just imagine the irreversible and disgusting situation that is a squished jelly donut in conjunction with thinking about your own spinal health and try not to feel sick… Exactly.
So now that it has been squished, the vile, red viscous jelly was seeping out. And because the vile, viscous, red jelly is ripe with toxic chemicals, it was inflaming the surrounding nerve endings as it seeped into them, spreading evil red gooeyness where it did not belong. SHUDDER.
The doctor saw the terror mounting in my eyes and the color draining from my cheeks and asked if I would like to be “put under” for the procedure. “You know, we can use that stuff that Michael Jackson used to over dose” she offered.
So, like I said, you can’t make this stuff up. Impossibleness is real. One week before our wedding, I was in an Operating Room being given an IV of knock-you-out fluids so that I could have not one, but two giant shots into my spine.
I went under lying face down, only to wake up, mysteriously lying face up in a different room, clutching a bag of ritz crackers and overwhelmed with an inability to use my usually impressive vocabulary without slurring my words while trying to chat with the nurses. I was also very aware of a searing left butt pain. I would imagine it was what you might feel like after having your organs harvested after being sold into human trafficking in a Liam Neeson movie.
How can you be put to sleep with constant back pain to wake up 15 minutes later with no memory of what had transpired but with much worse, much more constant back pain and call that a solution? The doctor repeatedly told me it would start to feel better soon. I hobbled away skeptically, wondering who in Bolivia would be getting my kidney.
I was instructed to spend the next day resting. Not to lean forward, twist, or lift anything heavy. Instead, we spent the next day moving apartments.
Because well, what can I say, once you become an impossible person, you just can’t go back.