It all started about a month ago when I woke up around 2:30 in the morning with a terrible pain in my hip and thigh. I had given myself a pretty good hematoma the week before in court of all places when I ran into the corner of counsel table when coming back from a recess. I am graceful like that.
Anyway, I wore a thigh wrap to play with the Miracle League kids the Saturday after Court and didn't think that it was anything more than a charleyhorse. A couple of days later at 2:30 I knew that whatever it was, it wasn't a charleyhorse.
The first trip to the orthopedist was inconclusive. X-rays revealed "the hip of a young man" with no arthritic changes noted. Which surprised both Dr. Peeples and I. He diagnosed the buzz in my leg as a hip strain, gave me an anti-inflammatory medication and told me to lay low and come back in a week. I came back in a week. The pain was worse. Unbearable really. He brought out the rubber mallet. He hit my right foot. No reflexes.
He looked up at me over his glasses. "Not good," he said.
He ordered an MRI. He gave me Vicodin for the pain so I could sleep. Told me to reeeeeaaaallllly lay low and this time he meant it.
Between the time of that visit and the MRI, the pain got better. In fact, I started walking pretty freely. The problem was I started falling. The first time was when I was out walking ( Doc said I could walk) and United States District Judge Leon Holmes (of all people) slowed his truck down to let me cross Kavanaugh. When I started to jog across the leg went out from under me. I somehow stayed upright. I was not so lucky the night of the 4th of July. I fell twice out on my deck. The leg just crumpled out of the blue both times. It was scary.
Peeples had suggested that I get a cane until I got better. Guess that was why.
I suppose that, all in all, I have led something of a charmed life when it comes to major health issues. Granted, I have worked hard at staying in shape over the years. But apart from my allergies and asthma I really don't have any chronic condition. I do not take my generally healthy life for granted. I have lost friends to cancer, AIDS and automobile accidents. I watched Parkinson's take my mother and a stroke hobble her brother.
I cough and sneeze. Poor me.
Not being able to stand upright gets your attention though. That's a marker. And I'm too young for this.
Once again, I got lucky. Though the MRI revealed degenerative disk disease in the lumbar spine, there are no blown disks. Dr. Peeples said a disk fragment had pinched a nerve. He said "had" because my pain is better and the strength in my leg is returning. The reflexes are back. So he suspects that the fragment has been reabsorbed in my body. Treatment plan? Do nothing.
Here is what I can do: I can play golf as long as I don't carry a bag. I can walk and I can ride a bike. I can start working with a trainer again in 2 weeks.
Here is what I can't do: Run, play soccer or rugby. Soccer or rugby? Ok. I can give those up.
In other words, I am officially at a stage in life where I am officially no longer a kid and my activities are to be governed by the concept of "using good sense" instead of "pretending I'm still 30." The doctor said my motto from here on out will be "Don't push it."
I can do that. Falling down is scary. Chronic pain is miserable. And I was just visited briefly by both. I cannot imagine trying to live with severe back trouble as so many people do. Cannot imagine.
I am a lucky, lucky man. And I do not take it for granted.
I have a bad back. I can't push it anymore. But I gotta tell ya, giving up rugby is gonna be tough.