My Stupid, Helpful Back

I have been a cranky bastard lately.

Two weeks ago I threw my back out. I shudder even typing the words “threw my back out.” It itself is a statement that implies something altogether different than that sum of words suggests. While you might assume that it would mean a problem with my back specifically, what that phrase actually communicates about me is that I startle easily at loud noises, frequently send soup back in restaurants and probably need an afghan for my legs when I go to the theatre. You can catch your death in there, you know.

Not to say that folks with chilly legs are necessarily feeble. After all, who am I to judge? Drill sergeants can have poor circulation, too, I’m sure.

But “throwing my back out” feels pretty feeble. I didn’t even get to do anything cool like lift a rolled over ice cream truck off the neighborhood kids or pull several unconscious workers out through a hole in the roof of a burning fireworks factory. No, when asked how I did it, all I could say was “I was sitting in a chair and turned funny to reach something”. The sad part is I’m not even sure I was reaching for something, I may have just “turned funny.”

Saying that I was reaching for something was actually an attempt to butch it up, it seems. Good lord.

That’s where I’ve been. For two weeks I have walked gingerly, sat uncomfortably and tried desperately to find a peaceful position in which to sleep. I haven’t been able to lift my kids up. I have carried groceries into the house one bag at a time. I have pet my dog only when she finds her way to my hand when I manage to get into one of my half dozen awkward seated positions.

I’ve generally been pretty pathetic. And it has made me a cranky bastard.

But I’m trying.

I’m trying to get the lesson out of this. While I have done my best to learn the lessons in humility and appreciation that parenthood has to teach, this whole back thing is taking that to another level. The universe must feel I have some more learning to do on the subjects.

I am accustomed to being the Bearer of Heavy Stuff around here. I scoop up my kids in each hand and I lift furniture. I don’t tire and I don’t become over burdened. I ask no quarter for I am the Dad.

Except for now, kids, because if you jump on daddy he might make that wretched little sound like a lonely seal pup who was separated from his mama.

It’ll get better, I’m sure. Until then I’m going to keep trying (and failing and trying again) to appreciate what I have and what I can do. It’s hard being so limited when you are used to having so much. I am blessed with abundance and the sense of entitlement that I clearly have attached to that abundance is pretty disgusting.

I mean, what exactly do I have to be whining about?

I can still walk, albeit slowly at times. I can choose to lay on either a couch or a bed in a house with a roof and air conditioning. I have a hot water bottle that I can fill up with piping hot water that comes straight out of a tap every single time I turn it on. I am surrounded by endlessly caring and selfless people who help me do whatever I can’t and remind me that I am loved. I have an in-house doctor, whom I call my wife, who takes better care of me than I probably deserve lately.

And I have children who tell me it’s okay when I apologize to them for being a cranky bastard.

It’s not really so bad being feeble, I guess. All of this gawky stooping and reactive bellowing and shuffling about has been good for the old perspective. But I still can’t friggin wait for my back to get better.

image credit


About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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3 Responses to My Stupid, Helpful Back

  1. Carla Peak says:

    So sorry to hear about your back Mitch. I know you’re not looking for advice, but I have to share, just in case it helps in the future. When I first met my husband, he was always “throwing his back out.” I took him to the chiropractor so many times, but it wasn’t until someone suggested that he take his wallet out of his back pocket and move it to his front, that he found any relief at all. Since he did that, he has had very very few back problems. Just thought I’d mention it, you never know what might help. Hope you’re feeling better soon. One good thing about pain, you always appreciate health much more when it returns.

  2. Wolf Pascoe says:

    I am glad to listen to your complaints. A bad back is a wretched thing. My neck is a quagmire these days. I feel very sorry for both of us. Ah, to be young and 50 again.

  3. Meka says:

    You are still superman and super Dad but maybe the lesson was meant for the the wee ones in the house. Dad after all is human too! I get frustrated when the Dad in my house gets tired. I mean really I am the only one who is allowed to be tired AND complain about it! Sometimes the little people and I loose sight of the fact that he is only human and is allowed to get tired or sick every so often. It’s a gentle reminder that the Dad needs some love too in order to keep going. So don’t pull out the afghan just yet!

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