Inheritance

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve been having issues with my back.  On the morning of April 11, I woke up with a terrible back ache.  Figuring I had just slept wrong, I popped some extra strength Ibuprofen and went to work.  It was agony to sit in the chair, though, so I went home early.  I ended up being (for all practical purposes) bedridden for a week.  It got to the point where my husband had to help me stand.  Plans for a Holy Saturday dinner were canceled and I was just grateful I was able to go to church for Easter.

Pain is not unusual in my family.  My mother had severe carpal tunnel from her days as a waitress, as well as pain from her lower back, which I later learned was caused by a deformed L5 vertebrae, a condition that runs in her family.  My father broke his back and had to have five surgeries.  The surgeries were stopped when, after the fifth, he almost didn’t wake up from the anesthesia.  He was in pain for the majority of his life.

I still remember how he moved around.  He always stood slowly, with arms back like wings, as if he were a bird about to take flight.  His walk was a shuffle-shuffle-stepshuffle-shuffle-step.  I can still hear him leaving the bedroom he shared with my mother and going to sleep in another room, so that he wouldn’t disturb her with his tossing and turning.  He made little pants and gasps of pain, sometimes muttering “ow, ow” or some other expletive.

I find myself doing the exact same thing, except for going to sleep in another room.  (The husband could sleep through fire fight, which I’m sure will come in handy if he’s ever deployed to a war zone.)

My father injured his back while in the Army.  He lifted some heavy machinery by himself and then compounded the error by not going to see a doctor.  Like my fictional Desdemona, he came from the school of “if you can walk, you’re fine”.  I don’t know if such pigheadedness comes from a strong streak of stubborn independence or a general distrust of doctors, but it’s something I’ve observed a lot in my little corner of the South.  Either way, by the time he finally went, his back was so bad off that surgery was the only recourse.

I hope that my problem can be solved with physical therapy.  I had X-rays taken on Monday, so I hope to hear from the doctor soon.  But it feels strange, having this problem.  I feel as if I’ve inherited something from my family.  In a way, it makes me feel closer to them (mostly closer to my father) because now I have a better idea of what sort of pain they had to deal with in their daily lives.  By having this idea, so many of their actions make sense, because when you’re constantly in this much pain, you’ll do almost anything to make it stop.

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