Gold Finch

It seemed like a good day when the day began. The weather was good and I felt ten years younger than I had felt for a while. After a long bike ride, I came home and suggested to my wife we kick the summer off with a small hike up at Grover’s Hot Springs. After the hike, unwilling to call it a day just quite yet, we proceeded to go up Ebbett’s pass following the road along the East Fork of the Carson River avoiding cyclist and motorcyclist alike as the road narrowed. We stopped at several lakes on the way up and hiked around a little bit.

We finally made it to Lake Alpine and had a late lunch. Because the temperatures were a little colder than we were dressed for, the staff let us eat our jalapeno poppers and drink our ginger ales by the fire inside the lodge and entertain ourselves with the whimsical collection of bear art on the wall interspersed with a John Wayne picture here and there. Enjoying our music and mesmerized by the surrounding beauty of the Sierra’s, we headed back and made it home around dinner time still feeling good about ourselves, so good that I decided I would go walk our dogs, even though, they are very difficult dogs to walk. We went further than I usually take them enjoying the light breeze as the day went from light to dusk. Meanwhile, my wife had gone out grocery shopping for dinner. When the dogs and I got back, I plopped myself into the easy chair and fiddled on the computer until my wife came home. As the door opened and she had her hands full with groceries, I offered to help. And, that is when it happened. I could not straighten up my back and any effort to do so seemed like I was going to break in half.

I had seen this many times on TV and had heard about backs locking up before, but never did I think this would happen to me, especially on a day like this when I had felt so good and there seemed to be no hint of the impending injury, even when I had rested myself in the easy chair. Bent in half, I made it to the couch and lied down thinking that would relax my back and make it possible for me to straighten out and be normal like other people with straight backs. After several failed attempts at straightening out, I foolishly decided to lie on the floor thinking a hard surface might help. But, being on the floor actually put me in a worse position I discovered because I could not even get to me knees without experiencing terrible pain. So I spent for the next two hours in the fetal position, watching reruns of High Chapparal and the Big Valley, intermittently attempting to get up without crying in front of me wife. All the time craving a quesadilla. Finally, out of a need to use the bathroom before going to bed, I propped myself up using a pair of walking poles while simultaneously shouting and whispering to myself.

A picture of the lake when it was still a good day
A picture of the lake when it was still a good day

Having not improved at all in the morning on Sunday and not knowing what was happening to me, my wife and I made our way to the emergency room. My wife was a saint the whole time showing me some rare sympathy. Allowing me to be a big baby for once, unlike she does when I have a man cold. Nevertheless, after three hours of mostly waiting and doing some x-rays, I was told I had just over done it and that I had some arthritis in my lower back and hips. More importantly though, they gave me some prescriptions for pain medication and told me to go see my doctor within the week. That was a rough week, because as it would happen to be I had scheduled a much needed appointment with my dentist for the removal of a wisdom tooth. For which, I also received more pain medication. The next day, I was able to get in with my doctor. Although, somewhat impatient and irritated that I had been squeezed into his already busy day, he too prescribed more pain medication. At this point, I gained some insight into how it is possible for people to get addicted to pain medication. It seems at the very least having a back injury opens doors to getting addicted.

Don’t worry though, of all the things, I’ve been addicted to, painkillers is not one of them. Food and sports seem to be my main kryptonite. And after a week of being on different painkillers, I stopped taking them realizing that I’d much rather deal with the remaining pain than feel like I did when on painkillers. I’d much rather gain back whatever reasoning skill I have still remaining rather than walk around loopy on drugs. Being aware there is a level of pain I should be able and willing to endure to avoid becoming caught up in an age that is gluttonous for drugs. An age that has an insatiable appetite for lighting up and burning up “all things bright and beautiful”.

As William F. May once stated:

“Only in so far as a man remains fully sensitive, open, receptive, and, indeed, vulnerable to his environment does he reckon with it in its full diversity and splendor.”

And from what I’ve seen in my lifetime for myself and those close to me, drugs, not matter how much in fashion or medicinal they are advertised to be, over time have a way of closing people down and shutting down their sensibilities and their capacity to love anyone but themselves. Why anyone would encourage drug use on any level given its devastating consequences on people’s lives all around us is beyond my simple logic. It seems like fool’s gold. And I already have plenty of people pointing out that I have problems with caring anyways so why make it worse and become an absolute brute, be more selfish than I am inclined to be, and add even more drama to my loves one’s lives than I have already clumsily done.