When my stomach or back retaliate, I have to take notice

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

A friend recently posted that he threw his lower back out and could barely move for days. I feel your pain - been there, done that.

It feels like someone is sticking me in the back with an ice pick each time I try to move. Bending down is risky and getting back up is even riskier.

After a few days, the back starts behaving itself, and activities like picking up dog poop in the backyard don’t have to be diagrammed beforehand. Then it’s back to normal life until the next episode.

The lower back is often taken for granted until something like this happens, much like the stomach. When either retaliates, it’s time to raise the white flag of surrender until whatever is causing it runs its course.

And I found out in my 30s, while umpiring a Little League game behind home plate, that this is not an old man’s problem. I called a strike (which was probably questionable because I could hardly see through that mask) and my lower back was gone - just like that.

There was no warning. I kept kneeling behind the plate, Luckily, a big 10-year-old came up to bat next and helped me back to my feet.

Another time, I was picking up a sand-filled bucket where people put out their cigarettes, and just as I grabbed it, and bang - I was down on my back. This time my older son was with me and pulled me back up. A few years later, I tried to jump in my RV, bypassing the steps, and it happened again. The wife was there to help me into the driver’s seat, but not before she took a iconic shot of me holding a laptop as the waves rolled in. The pain does not show on my face, but it was there.

Each time I made it back to home, where I remained until the back got back to normal. And, I found ways to move around without activating that ice-pick stabbing feeling.

I have since made provisions to reduce the chances that this real pain in the back could return. Other pains in the back return and sometimes stay around a while, but I’m talking about the physical pain.

I have found some remedies for the back problem. The stomach is a little more complex. Once it retaliates due to illness or bad food, it replicates the feeling of dying, with the exception that I have to get up a lot and stay close to the bathroom.

In my younger days, when I was a driven reporter without whom the world could not be for a few days, I tried to work through one of these episodes, but finally surrendered and isolated myself from civilization.

I sent word to my editor that I was sick to my stomach and jokingly added that this was real. I was not out there job-searching and faking being sick. I didn’t need to job- search. I had a great low-paying job as a reporter and could do just about anything I wanted. I eventually did job-search, but not that time.

Three days later I showed up in the newsroom. The managing editor looked at me and started laughing. “I know you weren’t faking it or going on job interviews,” he said. “You look horrible. Nobody would hire you looking like that.”

It was a rough ride, but come on. Have some sympathy. I didn’t look that bad. Then I looked in the mirror and decided that I probably would not have hired myself, either.

I’m not the type of person who runs to the doctor for everything. I couldn’t really run. I could barely sit up.

In the old country, my parents believed in home remedies like sweating out fevers and using tea bags for just about every ailment. (They were cheap and available. Antibiotics, not so much.)

“I can sit up again,” my friend said when I ran into him a few days after his post. I hope he made a full recovery and that the ice picks are gone for a while. You never know when they will return - or when the stomach retaliates again.

Respect the lower back and stomach, dear reader. Treat them right, because when they revolt, it is not a pretty sight.

(I look forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send me a note at john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.}