LS: Bruce Cameron Column January 25, 2009

A whole lotta nerve

I’ve decided to donate my body to science, as long as they’ll come pick it up this afternoon.
A couple of weeks ago, I experienced what medical experts commonly refer to as The Most Awful Pain a Human Being Has Ever Suffered in the History of Earth. Starting at the base of my spine, my legs suddenly became shooting fireballs of agony — it was as if all the pain I’d ever had in my life decided to come back for a high-school reunion. My thighs spasmed so severely I was pretty sure they were both giving birth to triplets. Elephant triplets.

Now, most people would agree that I’m the strong, silent type, the type who never lets anyone know he’s suffering.

The only people who would not agree are those who were within earshot of me when the pain hit, and I’m sorry it was in such a quiet place — but I’m sure the bride will agree that my symptoms were more important than her wedding.

When I got home, I discovered that the only position that gave me any comfort at all was lying on the couch holding a glass of wine. The pains were still strong and consistent, and my throat was getting sore from all the screaming.

I looked online to determine the cause of my agony and was able to determine that, according to the Internet, I must have stepped into a bear trap. Recommended treatments included morphine and gnawing off my own leg.

I called my doctor, Dr. Ennui, who told me it sounded as if I had a condition known as sciatica.

He observed that it normally went away on its own after a few days, but that if it didn’t get better, I should call him back, but without all the weeping.

Sciatica, I learned, is a symptom where the big nerves in your body turn into deadly snakes and start biting you.

At least, this is what I concluded from the hopelessly technical documents I read on the subject, which seemed to imply that the best treatments are diet and exercise.

Exercise? How do they expect me to exercise when I can barely crawl to the kitchen for more wine?

Dr. Ennui asked me if I would consider non-traditional treatments. “Hey,” I told him, “if I thought it would help, I’d suckle a baby weasel.”

That one was maybe a little too non-traditional, but the one he did suggest — acupuncture — struck me as being reasonable because I didn’t know some lady was going to stick needles in my body.

I’ve never really been interested in Eastern medicine, so the fact that I even made the appointment should be proof to you that I was running out of wine.

My father is a surgeon, so I was more or less raised with the belief that if you had a pain, somebody should go in with a scalpel and cut it out. Western medicine, however, was really letting me down with this whole diet-and-exercise thing, which in my opinion is ludicrously overrated.

I crawled onto the acupuncture bench and lay there while a woman starting pushing pins into my body, idly wondering if out there somewhere a voodoo doll that looked like me was starting to have pains where she was sticking me. She asked me whether I did yoga, and I told her I did once, but that it didn’t take. She suggested that perhaps my internal organs were unhappy and gave me some herbs to drink in a tea that tasted like it was made from the seats of a 1956 Chrysler station wagon.

After an hour of literally being on pins and needles, I did feel somewhat better. The pain in my legs went from shark attack to something closer to piranha. Dr. Ennui seemed pleased that I had done something to make myself feel better besides call him every five minutes, and then he, like my acupuncturist, brought up this yoga idea.

I said I’d do yoga when it came out in pill form. Meanwhile, I’m scheduled for an MRI to see whether there’s anything in my body that can be removed.

I’ll let you know what happens.



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