Hi kids, Slelmo here, I’ve got a new word for you today. Can you say muscle relaxants? Good, I knew you could. Actually I met them on last Thursday. It started on Easter Sunday after I posted. I felt a slight twinge in my lower back. I’d felt it before. I got it in 1973 when I picked up a shop box. I was a production clerk at Fafnir Bearing Co. My job was basically to do paperwork and ride a desk. I had a trucker whose job it was to move work from machine to machine. He was five three and maybe one twenty soaking wet. I helped him lift boxes because I’d go batcrap crazy sitting in the office. We were making the rounds and I picked up a box of bearing outers. I bent my knees, lifted slowly and as the box began to clear the ground I heard a loud pop in my back and a pain shot up my spine into my brain. The machine operator was known for ignoring the rules about the weight of shop boxes. They weren’t to exceed fifty pounds. This one weighed in at one fifteen. I was assisted to the nurse’s office. She gave me the panacea that the factory used, aspirin. I finished the day, not because I’m brave and don’t feel pain but there was no one else to do the job. I left a note saying I would see a doctor the next day.

I got a back specialist and an appointment. X-rays and a lot of prodding showed I’d pulled a muscle. A trip to the pharmacy got me pain killers, a call to my boss got me a day off. I was back and as long as I was careful it wouldn’t hurt. The back doctor gave me a follow-up and a caveat: Fix it or it’ll bother you forever. I ignored him. Over the next thirty years by back has hurt. It’s like a relative that you know is going to visit but you don’t know when. Along the way I self-medicated, alcohol, pot and an plethora of OTC pain-killers. I could have got pain killers from “pharmacists” I knew but quality and legality played a large part in whether or not I would purchase them. (Excuse me, but I’m sort of watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 and the Bride is about to have a showdown with Lucy Liu. My favorite part) Okay, I’ve moved through the years with occasional back pain. Sunday it hurt like a mother when I went to bed. Getting up got me into Ibuprofen, six a day at first, twelve a day by Thursday. I got a phone call from my clinician Deb after lunch on Monday. She canceled my appointment for the next day. I was a bit miffed (read really pissed). She called me again on Tuesday, as I was heading for acupuncture and Muna would deal with my back. She talked about how brave and honest I was telling the hospital about the former bug problem. I mentioned my heart was bothering me. She said call my Primary Care Physician (PCP). I said okay, and after hanging up called the VA Medical Center. I was given an appointment with my PCP in June. I asked if I could see him/her sooner. I got in at 1:30 that day, for thirty minutes. I wrote out a to-do list. On top was my heart, followed by my back and in decreasing order psychotherapy, a tenuous grip on reality, a new clinician, and Viagra.

I got to my appointment Kindle in hand. Waited for twenty minutes and got weighed, The nurse asked if I was in pain. I said yes. He asked “On a scale of 1 to 10, what is it?” I said thirteen. Back to waiting room. This time a new voice calls me. A young, black woman who has the look a lot of the doctors have when they first start out. We sit and talk. She reads the list. EKG on Thursday, Echo on Friday, Physical Therapy appointment to be made, CAT scan because I was a smoker, a visit to Patient Advocate and last but not least a colonoscopy. I’m okay with that. We’re going to work well together.

Cardo the next day. I get my EKG and instead of them sending results to my PCP the cardio nurse calls me into her office. She’d got a message from the PCP. She discusses my heart. It’s not a bad valve as my prior PCP had told me but something in the electrics of my heart, more visits. The nurse suggests that I get the Echo that day. I’ve had a few and know that getting an Echo after lunch is not a good idea. I haven’t eaten since 7a.m. but the tech has a habit of having garlicky sandwiches. And there is a backdraft. IFYKWIM. The Echo is neat. I can watch. It looks like my heart in a fireplace, reddish yellow around a silhouette of the beating sucker. I’m done at 3:15 and nurses and techs guide me to the walk-in clinic. I get in, play solitaire and wait. The doctor asks questions, prods and has me twist my torso. His initial diagnosis (guess) is arthritis. The solution; muscle relaxants. Get home take one, no result. In the a.m. half a pill and an ibuprofen, blessed relief.

Since then I’ve avoided vertical movement and spent time lounging on a couch that I bought on-line. You can imagine how comfortable that is. It still hurts a tad but the gym looks better for next week.

THE ODD BIT: My IP decided that I needed wireless connection for my computer. A router/modem came in the mail with instructions. I hooked it up. Going wireless lost me my HBO package, but so far I don’t miss it and my bill is down fifty or so bucks.

Be good to one another. If you go to see your doctor, bring a list of things bothering you. go over it. Lost three pounds on Weight Watchers. Having someone tell you that you’ve done well is really nice.