May 16, 2003

Intimations of Mortality

image copyright Fred First
Edinburgh Castle, May 14, 2001

Two years ago today, we were on our way home from Ireland (and for too brief a time, Scotland) after visiting our son Nathan (who arrived here on Goose Creek just last night for a short visit). At the time, he was an exchange student from his little college at Maryville, Tennessee to Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Emerald Isle is everything we expected, and we had a wonderful trip. Except...

Before we left for the trip, I had managed to have a little 'episode' with my low back... a recurring aggravation that was more of a nuisance most of the time here around the place. But sitting was the position of least comfort, and we certainly were going to do more than our share of sitting in buses, cabs, trains and planes during the trip. Even so, I'd be okay; just had to stretch a lot, change positions often, avoid too much prolonged sitting.

I don't know. Guess it was the tight little front seat of the cab we took from the motel to the airport the day we left for home. My knees were almost in my face. Whatever the cause, the effect was one massively powerful cramping pain in my right thigh and calf unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life. I tried to carry on the conversation with the cabby while jamming my foot into the floorboard with every ounce of strength I could find to push the pain back. We reached the airport. I passed out from the pain. I could barely stand or walk. This was not good.

And for the next 20 hours, I was forced to sit, with an acute awareness of the exact distribution of my sciatic nerve. No pain meds, no ice. May 16, 2001 was without doubt the longest day of my life. For a week after we returned, I couldn't tolerate sitting behind the wheel to drive. Ann drove me to work (a brand new job, to boot) with me lying full back in the passenger's seat, feeling like a load of lumber in an ambulance. Tests showed nothing (no disc bulge etc). Save some calf weakness, I'm fully recovered now.

I apologize for dragging you along through my anniversary of miseries. But this is one of those Churchill kind of days that 'will live forevah in infamy' and thus is a part of the Fragmented Total Package of life that inhabits these pages. Today I am alive and very well, thank you, and will be rousting young Nate momentarily to press him into farming duties. The boy has a strong and healthy back, and the list is long!

Posted by fred1st at May 16, 2003 07:31 AM | TrackBack

Fred, I believe I took a photo from this same exact location when we were there several years ago. At the time there were loads of school kids playing in the yard far below. Thanks for the pleasant memory. (Sorry about the painful one.)

Posted by: sainteros at May 16, 2003 09:30 AM

Ouch, that hurt just reading about it!

Posted by: ronbailey at May 16, 2003 10:18 AM

Thanks for the photo, brought back loads of memories, thankfully, none of tyhem about back pain. How did you survive? Must be made of sterner stuff, Fred. Hope you have a great weekend.

Posted by: Alexandra at May 16, 2003 11:46 AM

I had also too a photo from that exact same spot, back in 1983. But a week later, I left my photo gear (and all my undeveloped film) on a train from London to Southhampton...

Posted by: Dave at May 16, 2003 12:42 PM


Posted by: Darren at May 17, 2003 07:22 AM

I have periodic bouts with my sciatic nerve; never so bad that I've passed out, but some bad enough that I wished I had. Not fun. BTW, wasn't that FDR who made the "infamy" speech?

Posted by: Debi at May 17, 2003 09:29 PM

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