October 20, 2003

By Michael Strickland


Last Saturday, I had what should have been a perfect day. With some friends, I traveled south of the border for a classic day as a tourist in Mexico. After a couple of hours spent shopping for trinkets in Rosarito Beach's open-air market, we moved down to Puerto Nuevo for some fresh, cheap lobster. I felt like I was ten years younger, as it had been at least that long since I'd whiled away an afternoon washing down lobster tails with pitchers of margaritas on the Baja coastline.

But something else happened that made me feel thirty years older. Sitting in the back seat of my friend's truck as we rolled down a bumpy dirt road, I innocuously leaned forward and reached into the front seat. Suddenly, I felt a white-hot explosion of pain erupt in my lower back. Though I had done nothing to provoke it, my back had violently seized up. I'd endured the occasional back spasm in the past, but nothing like this. It was like getting clobbered with a left hook from Mike Tyson when you're used to mosquito bites.

I did my best to enjoy the rest of our Baja excursion, but the pain was formidable. It kept me in bed most of the following day, hobbling me like a knife blade to the kidney. Today, it was all I could do to limp downtown to jury duty. I'm days away from being out of the woods, but I've already had plenty of time to reflect on the power of pain. And I can't help but think of the friends I've had and the people I've known who have dealt with—or still deal with—chronic pain for much of their lives. It humbles me to deal with pain that makes every step difficult, that turns every action into a spark that could fall on the fuel of agony. Everything becomes ten times harder when you have to consciously consider every move before you take it to avoid a burst of pain.

I felt much better after a visit to the chiropractor, though I'll have to pay several more visits before I feel up to strapping a belt full of lead weights on my waist again. In the meantime, I'll take it easy and continue to gain more and more respect for the people for whom pain is an everyday reality.

[Those who read this column on a daily basis now know why nothing was posted here over the weekend.]


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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October Columns:

10/31: Halloween's History
10/30: Good GDP, Still No Jobs
10/29: Disaster
10/27: Ash Monday
10/26: En Fuego
10/25: Diving in the Desert
10/24: Dead Car Canyon
10/23: Reflections
10/21: Le Métro
10/20: Pain
10/17: Jury Duty
10/15: Labor Pains
10/14: The Business of Losing
10/13: Owls and Jobs
10/12: Hooked
10/11: The "S" in SUV
10/9: Flee the City
10/8: Sore Losers
10/5: Turkeys
10/4: It's Not the Economy, Stupid
10/2: Focus
10/1: Twenty Years
Previous months in The Archive

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