7 Stages of Back Pain

Thanks for the notes inquiring about my back

  • My sciatica.
  • My spondilolythesis.
  • My herniated discs.
  • My fractured sacrum.
  • My psychosomatic illnesses with a dose of hypochondriacism.

If you have back problems or are considering manifesting your psychological pain via your back, here are the 7 stages of grieving you can expect. If you’re like me, you’ll want to rush through all of these in less than 6 months (my dad spread it out over 10 years but he likes pain because it keeps him humble and spiritual).

I’m not like other people. I don’t like pain. Most of my life is about avoiding pain and seeking pleasure, which I know isn’t healthy after devouring no fewer than 20 self-help books in the past few months. I’m in search for a lasting harmony, tranquility, mental/physical fitness, spirituality, happiness and positivity. Of course, changing one’s mind and daily habits turns out to be a lot more work than taking pills, eating cereal and living on YouTube.

So what can you expect if you’re experiencing back pain, or are scheduled to do so soon?

1. Denial. Back pains are for old people. Pretend not to notice. Oh- is your leg falling asleep while you walk? Strange pain dancing diagonally across your ass? Does your spine feel like a weathered locust shell? Hit snooze on the physical alarm clock and sleep as long as you can.

2. Acceptance: Make a video and mention the symptoms. Someone in the comments will tell you it’s sciatica. Your doctor will confirm it, and stick you into a battery of tests. Make a video celebrating the stupid things you did to your back to get you where you are today… Remember- humor is a coping mechanism.

3. Get Testy: Run through a series of tests including xrays, MRIs, and anal-cavity searches. Hey wait- Dr. Mason had both of his hands on my shoulders during that last test.

4. Bargain: Ignore the realities of the fractured bones, pinched nerves and herniated disks. Go to physical therapy twice a week for two months (get a frozen coffee on the way out instead of paying your co-pay). Then read Dr. Sarno’s book that says it’s all in your mind. Seems you’re repressing anger. Get more depressed now, because in addition to that shooting, stabbing, piercing back pain… you’re also discovering that you’re psychologically weak. Good news- the depression will lead to anxiety, which will in turn make your back feel worse.

5. Despair: Strangers start saying to you, “are you okay?” because your face apparently looks like an Emo dentist in Finland. Drive to work crying like a baby (try the breathy sob like you’re auditioning for Stealing Magnolia). Stop in a park and fall asleep by a lake. Wake up confused and sun burnt (good luck explaining that at work). Remember only the painful memories of life, and project them upon the future as a dark, perpetually pained existence. Picture yourself an old crabby man bitching at his grand kids and forgetting where he put his “oops I shit in my pants” diapers.

6. Epidural. Feel like a pregnant lady (and look like one too, considering the extra lbs you’ve put on) by getting an epidural. Float out feeling like it’s all behind you. Then the anesthesia wears off. Sore that night. But the next day…. ahhhhhhhh. Life returns? You may make a video again. Even the annoying guy at work is only irritating not chalk-board scratching torture. Woah- you can walk, bend over and sleep? Hey- you can even wiggle your hips. Where’d Doctor Mason go?

7. Haven’t Gotten There Yet. But here’s a disgusting picture for you! I took this photo after I ripped a chunk out of my back in a mad rage on Tuesday morning. But then my babysitter‘s dog (Rusty) ran home with it.

23 Replies to “7 Stages of Back Pain”

  1. You missed a stage. That’s when you start waking up every morning, only to have the pain return 2 seconds after you’re conscious, and to think to yourself “I cannot live the rest of my life with this pain,” then go pop a vicodin to get an hour’s relief. And spend 3 months in bed doing the same thing every morning, only getting up to go from doctor to doctor who cannot find anything wrong and physical therapists who refuse to treat you because they think you’re making up your pain, then move to california and get a better psychiatrist more willing to prescribe heavy duty pain meds usually reserved for cancer patients, who then finds yet another drug that might help that you take for 3 months and then realize one day that the pain has magically disappeared. And only comes back when you are under extraordinary stress but is manageable if you can relax and lie on a heating pad for a few hours.

    Of course, you may have skipped this stage because you’re only mildly insane, while I am way off the deep end of craziness.

  2. Chronic pain will do that to you, Sukatra. Of course, back pain can also occur to people who were already prone to insanity.

    Nalts, I went to Mayo Clinic. They gave me a battery of high-tech imaging tests and finally found a definitive answer to where my spinal dural AVF is located. The last guy operated without knowing, kind of a blindfolded dart throw (and was ready to re-operate in the same place, when I didn’t get better). It turns out the evil artery-vein connection is in my tailbone in a spot that the last guy never bothered to have imaged.

    Surgery September 3. I recommend Mayo Clinic, but I’ll talk to you again after I’ve had the surgery. The good news? I may walk again. I have visions of showing up in my hospital gown and the guy touches my forehead saying “HEAL!”

  3. Try Tai Chi and hanging upside down like a bat.

    Okay. Don’t believe me. But I cured my chronic back pain that way.

    Your spinal chord looks like a pepparoni pizza.

  4. Sukatra- I am on a very mild dose of Vicadin (1/2 of a pill whenever it hurts). I’m praying I don’t need it beyond the next week because it seems like such a waste to use good pain medication to fight pain. Anyway Percocet is so much more entertaining.

    You know even smelly unwiped butts are manageable with the right chemicals.

    How is it that we all had back pain? Coincidence, common ailment, or is there something about this blog that appeals to back-pain sufferers?

  5. I am lucky in the sense that I can usually get my out of wack back back into place with mild manipulation. It’s getting more difficult as I get older and lose flexibility. Funny. I do a lot of heavy lifting every day, I play golf and am overweight. But my back only goes out when I reach to pick up a pencil. Vertabrae clicks to the left and corrosponding muscle knots and **pain**. The pain only releases when the vertabrae clicks back into place.

    My primary care is an Osteopath and has chiropractic ‘Skills’. I highly recommend Osteopaths.

  6. Oh man I can relate. I hurt my back in a gym class in college (I thought I was supposed to be indestructible until after college?!?) and life ever since has been a cycle of reinjury, recovery, brief period of reprieve, reinjury, etc. etc..

    Stupid back. Why did we ever have to learn to walk upright?

  7. You mentioned Dr. Mason twice! You really liked that test, huh? LOL

    I feel for you Nalts…I was where you are when I was 25. I had a herneated disc with sciatica pain. I would limp at work cause I was in so much pain. I went through depression cause I felt I was too young to go through those types of problems, but through physical therapy and drugs I recovered about 85%. I still cannot stand for long period at a time in one spot and I have the butt “muscle” (sciatica) pain you speak of. I’ve just learned to live with it.

    My favorite therapy was one of those huge, blow up balls…I would lay on top arching my back and lay there for a long time. Go get those big balls (soccer, basketball) you had and lay on it! :o) LOL, I said “big balls!”

  8. @9

    It is, if you are in the hospital and have a prostate. Talk to babysitterofnalts about massaging prostates.

  9. Grow a backbone, Kevin. Suck it up. If you think things are bad now, just wait til you hit your fifties, especially being as sedentary as you are. All hell breaks loose then, my brother. All hell. Especially if you’ve spent a decade or so in a comfortable chair.

    One of my job perks at the corporation was bi-weekly shiatsu massage combined with a bi-annual deep tissue (rolf) overhaul. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I smiled a lot in the early 90s. My aura was off the charts. I could bend light. Men cringed. Women swooned. Then I turned 40.

    What were we talking about?

  10. ^I think his backbone is shrinking which means he will getting smaller. I wish I could remember, too many videos today… who told me about deep tissue massage,? anyway, they said after they walked out they were all bruised and would never do it again and I once saw someone get rolfed in a parking lot – yes, the guy pulled out his table and rolfed another guy right there – The guy laying down flew three feet or more feet up in the air while his head remained in the other guys hands, there were loud cracks.
    Sorry, no way.

    As far as your aura et al mdj are you sure that wasn’t LDS or LSD?
    FYI I don’t plan on feeling the effects of age until I hit 65 or 70 so quit attacking my mind’s mojo with you’re tales of woe.
    [finger’s in ear] lalalalalala

  11. I guess Kevin’s bad back killed him (click). Shame. He should’ve tried the bat thing.

    P.S. On The Link:
    I get the video. I just don’t get the post.

    The weekend with the Rosecrucians perhaps.

  12. ^[click]

    It’s not for everyone. It has it’s effect and some people swear by it saying that it has given them much better results than any conventional methods they’ve tired.

    There are a lot of different approaches, some very general; aligning the structure of the body, while others seem to incorporate new age type healing with the actual rolfing; using the power of their higher body energy to heal. Those folks say that is the real power of rolfing.

    The demonstration I witnessed just freaked me out, so I can’t say first hand if it works or not. In theory it might, but it looked so violent that one wrong move gives the impression that it could kill.

    Though, If you find a professional and are into the rack, this might be worth looking into.

  13. Man was not designed to walk upright. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

    I have had back pain since an accident 2-1/2 years ago when I got broad-sided by someone on the Thruway. I’ll take the pain, since I thought I was going to die.

    BTW, have you checked out my poison ivy pic? {click}

    I got it at my in-laws 2 weeks ago and it’s driving me crazy!!!!!!!!!

  14. Tried the rubbing alcohol, but not the cornstarch. Never heard of that remedy before. Don’t know what jewelweed is. I know you said on my blog (yes, some people do go there once in a while), that you’ve had poison ivy before. Did those remedies make it go away faster? I am going crazy here!!

  15. Just be sure you are not re-attacking yourself. Hot soapy water will remove the toxin from most anything (including your skin) … is it on your shoelaces? Then every time you tie your shoes, the substance gets on your hands, and when you scratch your nose, well, you get the picture. If your dog has been walking through poison ivy and you pet your dog… same deal.

    Wash everything, cover yourself in calamine lotion (also keeps men from hitting on you) and in another week or so, you should have nothing left but secondary infections caused by your own undisciplined scratching of the rash.

  16. @21
    DahliaK has a real good point there. Better do what she says if you want to avoid the hydrocortisone shot expense. You should’ve been done with your rash by this time. Google ‘jewelweed’. Should be some pictures on the web and it’s a common weed you probably have in your yard or public park. Worked great for me.

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