The Chronicles of Back Surgery - Part I: A Perineum is not a type of flower...

“Sunday, December 7th, a day that shall live in infamy.” The words of Franklin D. Roosevelt will forever be etched into my memory, but for a different reason than most. Sixty-seven years to the day that the Nips pulled their sneak attack on battleship row, a bolt of lightening came down from the clouds and struck me square in the ass.

While bending over to zip up a bag of luggage I’d packed for a trip to Houston the next morning, something akin to a pit bull reached up and bit me on the left butt-cheek. The pain was hot, sharp and very, very intense. A shot of boiling acid must have been injected into my ass, because the back of my leg was obviously on fire. I immediately sat down and tried get into a comfortable position to alleviate the pain. I tried to sit, stand, lay flat on my back, my stomach, anything to ease the flow of flaming napalm running down my leg. But much to my dismay, nothing worked. It was getting late, so I decided to self-medicate by taking a couple of Vicodin and drinking three fingers of bourbon, then went straight to my room and got into bed.

When I awoke on Monday morning, there were hot coals in my ass and my leg was still smoldering. There was absolutely no way I was going out of town in that condition, so I cancelled my trip and called my primary care doctor for an appointment. After an examination, my doctor’s 12 years of medical training and 20 some-odd years of experience as a physician lead him to the sage prognosis that I had pinched a nerve in my lower back. He prescribed more Vicodin, a muscle relaxant and told me to lay flat for a few days. He said I should be better within about a week, but to call him back if my condition didn’t change or got significantly worse. I laid out a $25 co-pay, spent $50 at Walgreen’s for prescriptions, then headed back home where I retreated to my bed.

Over the next three days I lived like Elvis. I would stay awake only long enough to take more drugs, eat and piss. The drugs helped and the pain was getting better, but I noticed that my feet were beginning to get numb. At first, it felt like my toes were going to sleep or were really cold, but by nightfall, both feet were entirely numb. The feeling reminded my of being in the training room after football practice to soak my ankles in 5 gallon buckets full of ice, rock salt and water; cold, numbing and painful.

Over the next three days the numbness slowly spread from my feet, to my calves, to my hamstrings and to my ass. I began to have a hard time walking to and from the bathroom, but I wasn’t sure if it was the numbness in my legs or the fact that I was popping Vicodin and muscle relaxers like they were Tic Tacs. It still hurt like hell to stand up and move around, but because of the copious amounts of narcotics in my system, I just didn’t care.

When I awoke on Thursday morning I got scared that something was seriously wrong. In addition to my legs and ass-cheeks, my taint and nuts were now numb. The mere thought of a paralyzed dingus would strike fear into the hearts of the most courageous of men, and I was no different. I frantically called Dr. Feelgood and reported the change in my condition. After explaining what a “taint” is to a 60-year old doctor, then being informed that the proper term for it is “perineum”, I was told to immediately go to the emergency room for an MRI.

The wife and kids were already gone to school, so rather than call for assistance I decided to cowboy-up and take myself on in. I downed a handful of Vicodin to quell the pain, waited a half-hour for it to take affect, and then got myself dressed. I literally couldn’t keep my balance to walk, plus the burning pain was getting worse. I grabbed a chair and used it like a walker to help stabilize myself and began to hobble out to my truck. With every step the pain grew worse and it took me about 45 minutes to traverse the 30 feet of sidewalk that separate my house from the carport. The pain was becoming more and more unbearable and I began to realize that the decision to drive myself to the hospital might be a big mistake.

As I finally got to the door of the truck, I could no longer hold myself up with my legs and was using the chair to support the full weight of my body. I got the door opened and tried to climb in the truck, but the pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. It literally took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine that being set on fire would be any worse than what I was enduring. I stood there feeling like I was waist-deep in a pool of acid, unable to get in my own truck or make it back to the house. At that point, I admitted to myself that I was in real trouble and needed help. I managed to get the phone out of my pocket without falling over, called 911 and begged for an ambulance come pick me up.

It seemed like forever, but the paramedics actually arrived within about 10 minutes of the call. After listening to my list of symptoms and my apology for being such a pussy that I had to call them for a “hurt back”, they tried to figure out how they were going to get my big ass on the stretcher. We all debated for a while, but couldn’t come up with an easy plan. With no forklift or hydraulic crane at my disposal, we came to the consensus that the only way to get on the stretcher was for me to nut-up and climb my ass up there. They lowered the stretcher to a little below waist high, set a backboard on top of the pad and pushed it right up against me. All I had to do was sit down, lay back and swing my legs up. The paramedics even helped me by holding my shoulders and trying to lift my legs up as gently as possible, but the pain was indescribable.

I screamed in a high-pitched voice like an 8-year-old girl who just got a pony for Christmas. A horrific symphony of falsetto obscenities spewed from my lungs and I begged God to make the pain stop, but he wasn’t listening. Tears were streaming down my face and I had to force myself to inhale. I was in such pain that I think it even scared the paramedics a little bit. Mercifully, they slid the backboard over a bit, centering my body on the stretcher. As one paramedic began to strap me down, another radioed the hospital to let them know we were coming. They took my vital signs and talked to the hospital a little more before wheeling me around to the back of the ambulance and loading me inside.

I’d been meaning to have a few truckloads of caliche brought in to re-surface my road, but just hadn’t got around to it. The ambulance ride sure made me wish I had, because every pothole we hit in that sumbitch made me scream. The ride to the hospital took about 15 minutes and the guy in the back with me was monitoring my vital signs and talking to the hospital. He hooked up an IV in my arm and gave me a shot for the pain, but it didn’t do any good. I asked him for a rig of heroin or if I could smoke some opium or some shit, but my request was denied. I’d have to wait until I got to the hospital to get anything stronger.

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