The Ultimate Driving Machine

Just warning you: this post is a rant, mixed with a little bit of a whine.

On my way to work there is a nice stretch of straight road, maybe a mile long, that toddles along at 55 miles per hour, before it kludges up with traffic. It provides a nice counterbalance to the 25mph crawl I have through the suburbs before I get there, and it offers an opportunity to relax.

This morning as I drove along I let my left hand drop and it rested on my knee, the same one that I went in to get visco yesterday on. It felt damp so I looked down, and discovered that the injection site was seeping. Oh, joy. Back to the house to change bandages, change jeans, apply detergent to the stain, etc. Such are the joys of medical maintenance.

(Editor’s note: I asked for it. Now with an ultrasound machine and another six months of technique improvement, I was able to walk unassisted after the injection and by end of day my knee felt totally normal. So I didn’t exactly follow the instructions and went to the gym. I’m not a total idiot, all I did was upper body stuff, but clearly I had pissed something off.)

In the meantime, I’m struggling with a “decision” I need to make: my lower back. Arthritis isn’t uncommon in people over 40 (or, in my case, 39) and the PT should take care of the pain I have. Up until a week ago I would’ve said “what pain” because when I run, or indeed do pretty much anything else active, it’s not my back that hurts. My upper right leg hurts. Figuring that this was my body’s way of insisting I get a full set of x-rays, one body part at a time, I went back to the doc.

“So, my back is all better, but my upper leg is hurting, particularly when I run. The PT thinks it’s my psoas.”

“I think it’s your lower back.”

“No, no, my lower back feels great.”

“Yeah, I still think it’s referred pain from your lower back.”

“Well, okay”

Here she had me lay down on my stomach, flipped up my shirt, and started poking at my spine.

“Does this hurt?” (poke)


“Does this hurt?” (poke)


“Does this hurt?” (po-)“AAAAAAAAAARGH”.

“Yep, it’s your lower back.”

After brief consultation, here is the treatment plan: Go back to Physical Therapy (more time with my friend Dan, I see) and, if that doesn’t solve it in another month or so, start thinking about spinal injections.

Spinal. Injections.

I have no problem with needles (blood donation, tattoos, piercings, etc.) and I have no problem with my spine (apart from it being in pain) and one time in my life I didn’t mind having an injection into my spine (hello, Epidural!). But the idea of ongoing annual (or semi-annual) pokes into my trunk does not sound good, for a variety of reasons.

Being handed the ersatz ultimatum, such as it is, that if I do NOT get better with PT in about a month then we need to “look at this”, puts undue pressure (I feel) on the viability of the PT. This last two months’ worth have succeeded in radiating the pain OUT, in half that time we need to radiate the pain back in and start making it go away. It’s like being handed an assignment you’re likely to fail at. If I had that kind of control over my body I wouldn’t be IN this position.

This whole process feels a bit like my commute… slow crawling progression, nice coasting parts, followed almost immediately by infuriatingly gnarled systems.

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