On The Third Day of Whitsmas… I Gave Up.

I’m twenty-three years old.

The first time I threw my back out, I was fourteen. I was never the athletic specimen in high school that I am now. Then I was a bit heavier and a lot more whiny. I didn’t like exercising because it was hard. But my alma mater requires two trimesters of sports every year, and I liked playing lacrosse, if not for the thrill of the game, then for the kilt I got to wear.

CUA Women's Lacrosse vs Susquehanna Crusaders
Know how I know I’m gay(ish)?

That day at lacrosse practice we were running suicides. Everyone knows what suicides are. The joke writes itself, really.

As I was “sprinting,” I bent down to touch the line. Suddenly, an incomprehensible pain shot through my back, leaving me hunched. I started crying almost immediately. I had never felt pain like that before? Was I dying? I was probably dying. Did I break my spine? Indubitably.  Holy shit, I was paralyzed, but only on the right side of my back!

“Whitney, keep running!” My coach yelled at me, aggravated that I was standing there crying like a little baby.

“My back hurts!” Even yelling hurt.

“Keep RUNNING!” She bellowed. So I did as I was told, but I ran like the hunchback of Notre Dame. I was perpetually reaching for my right foot, my left shoulder arched higher. I was barely jogging, and I was crying so hard I couldn’t see.

At the end of practice, I hobbled to the trainer. He told me I had a back spasm, and one of the worst he had ever seen. He iced my back, and for the next week or so, I was incapacitated.

From then on, every few months (or, honestly, whenever sports season started again), I would throw my back out. I quit lacrosse. In field hockey (know how I know I’m gay-ish?), I almost always threw out my back during pre-season.

Runing had always been excruciating. I thought everyone ran with back pain, and I was just too much of a whiny idiot to overcome the pain.

Turns out, I was wrong. The summer before my senior year in high school, I went to a physical therapist. There, after an amazing massage, I learned that my sacroiliac joint in my right hip locks up randomly, causing the muscles on the right side of my back to be underdeveloped. When it locks up, I throw my back out and suffer the spasms for a week or more until it relents.

English: The sacroiliac joint
Also known as, “Fucking Ouch.”

I was given a bunch of exercises to do, which I only did when I threw it out. Because I was lazy.

I threw my back out my freshman year of college, trying to raise my bed by myself. I was out for a week. I threw it out the summer after sophomore year of college when I, and this is especially embarrassing, sat down on a couch. I threw it out Junior year in college when… I don’t remember. I threw it out last January doing dead-lifts with 30 lbs in my house.

And I threw it out on my drive home.

I had Atreyu on leash. A backpack on my back. His kennel in one hand. His bag of everything else in my other hand. I thought I’d be fine, because I LOVE exercising now (because I’m a freak of nature) and it wasn’t more than a four hundred yard walk from my hotel room to the car. I set the bags down, opened the trunk, and reached down for the bag of Atreyu’s stuff.

And, holy shit, I thought I was going to die. I started moaning in the parking lot, and winced with each Quasimodo step I took. It took five minutes to load my car. It took five minutes to walk into the gas station and get Aleve.

Alexander Ostuzhev as Quasimodo, 1925.
Me, aged 23.

The attendant in the station asked if I threw my back out while pumping gas.

“Worse.” I said. “While loading my car.” He smiled sympathetically, and I limped away.

Who needs 12 Days of Whitsmas? Not this girl. This girl needs a back massage and a chauffeur.

Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer-
Say hello to my new drivers. (Know how I know I’m straight-ish?)

24 thoughts on “On The Third Day of Whitsmas… I Gave Up.

  1. A bad back – my sympathies. I hope you get your massage soon. A chauffeur will be a harder ask…
    Only 3 days of Whitsmas? As one of your most loyal followers I feel shortchanged – didn’t I pay you for the other days? Or at least I thought we agreed a price: NZ$20 per day and a back rub every second day wasn’t it?
    Never mind – I will litigate in the New Year. Until then, have a great Christmas!

  2. You crystallized decades of personalized undefined sexual identity politics via “gay-ish” and “straight-ish.” I’m growing to value your unknown yet oft-knowing brain…

  3. I have a similar deal with a herniated disk that flares up from time to time. That pain ain’t no joke! I also only do the stretches I was told to do when the pain starts to creep in because I’m also lazy. Shame on us. Hope all is well otherwise.

  4. I was in pain while reading this! OUCH is right! You are so young to be dealing with this kind of pain. Thank God you have Channing and the other guy to help you out! Hope 2014 brings more pain free days.

  5. One time, my husband threw out his back. We were remodeling and I had to roll him onto a blanket I draped on the floor and I pulled him into another bedroom! Now I know how hard it is to move dead weight! I’ll have to blog about it sometime.
    Keep up with those exercises. It sounds completely painful!! YOUCH!!!

  6. Agh. One of my older brothers (I mean, he just turned 30, he’s not OLD) has a horrible spine and keeps having all sorts of surgeries to fix it. It all seems so horrible– you have my sympathies and I’m totally with you on the mandatory exercises… that’s kind of like flossing. You’re only ever going to do it the day before you go to the dentist and then the day after.

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