I threw out my back last Thursday, odd since I’m still using it. I spent the next week or so walking hunched over, like I’m trying not to hit my head on an imaginary ceiling. I wish I knew how I did it, so I don’t ever do the same thing again. My history says otherwise, though. I blew out my knee once skiing, and as soon as it got better I went back to skiing. And I pulled a tendon playing tennis, and when that healed I went right back to playing tennis. It could be that I blew out my back not taking out the garbage, and when it heals I’ll probably go right back to not taking out the garbage. It would be easy if I blew out my back eating Brussels sprouts, because I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing that again.

Whoever designed the human back is an idiot. Did you ever hear anyone say they were having problems with their front? It’s as if there were too many teams working on the human body, and no one was talking to each other. At least there should have been a conference call so that all the different project managers could check in. “Why do we need two kidneys? I thought you said this thing was so great it will never fail.” “Look I believe in redundancy. What if that goofy gall bladder that Joel is working on affects my kidneys and screws them both up? We need a total of two so another guy can donate one and we’re good to go.” “Well then what if HIS leftover kidney goes haywire? He’s going to go crawling over there with his tail between his legs and ask for it back?” “Joel, are you on this call? I thought we weren’t going to go with a tail?” 

I haven’t been to the doctor because I’m afraid he’ll tell me that I have a compact disc, or a spinal farficature or something even worse that he made up on the spot. Then he’s going to tell me I need surgery to extract the remainder of my deductible from my wallet. And you can’t believe the number of things I use my back for that I won’t be able to do while I’m recovering from the surgery. I use my back for lifting things, for instance. I know you’re supposed to use your legs, but they’re in worse shape than my back. I use my back for walking, and I use it twice as much if I walk backwards. I also use my back for lying. Actually, that was a lie, so I apologize for that. 

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Everyone I know has a cure for a bad back. My friend Liz is a massage therapist, and she suggested massage. I tried that once, and NEVER again. I’m ridiculously ticklish, and as the guy is massaging me, he’s going on and on about his Mom, who’s in a nursing home and he just got back from visiting her, and I start bursting into hilarious peals of laughter. I had to tip him way more than I should have, plus send a card to his Mom.
Somebody said I should get an epidural- isn’t that the thing you get when you’re having a baby? Which I thought was very insulting. You shouldn’t just assume that I’m pregnant without asking first. It’s not my fault somebody brought a HUGE container of cookies to work and then didn’t eat any of them.

Rex suggested acupuncture, which is a component of health care in China that can be traced back 2,500 years. That’s the first time the doctor said to the patient, “Your lumbago hurts? Well I have no idea what a lumbago is, but you’ll hardly notice it once I pound this nail into your head with a ball peen hammer.” Since then the science has been refined considerably. But what if the guy who does it is more “puncture” than “acu?” Baseball players hit the ball one-third of the time, and then they get voted into the Hall of Fame.

My friend Lex thinks I should try his inversion table, which is a form of traction designed to decompress the spine, and I might just do that. An “inversion table” sounds to me like something an accountant would use to show me that my gross annual adjusted income divided by my net worth is equal to my accrued liabilities as a factor of inflation when modified by depreciation, and that’s why I owe him $500 bucks. By the way, my adjusted annual income really IS gross, you should see the nasty face I make when I catch a glimpse of it. I want to try lying on the inversion table face down, that way my bottom is at the top, my front is in the back, and my inner GPS is recalculating a new route to the doctor’s office, without tolls. I picture myself upside down, all the blood rushing to my head where it will do the least amount of good. 

The girls in my band think I should try yoga, they swear by it. I get the feeling that if I tried it I would swear AT it. It sounded great at first- a class of 15 moms wearing spandex, and they think it’s so CUTE that a guy as youthful-looking, smart and delightful as I am can’t lift both feet into the air. But then that fantasy turned into the reality of a six foot-two uncoordinated idiot slowing down the whole group while I try to explain how I got my watch caught in my hair. “Can you get your dog facing downward a little quicker? I have to pick up my kids at 11.” I put my foot in my mouth often enough right here without actually doing it in person trying to do yoga. 

I tried physical therapy a few years ago, and they gave me exercises and stretches to do, and I do them for two minutes every morning while my dog sits on my face. My dog went to his own physical therapist, who told him to sit on somebody’s face for two minutes each morning. It doesn’t cure anything but it does even up the food chain a little. After two minutes of stretching now I’m six foot-four, so my face isn’t where it was two minutes ago and my dog and I both rise to face the day.

Good news! While I was trying to figure out what I should do, I started to feel better. My back is back! The only downside is now that I’ve straightened back up, I keep hitting my head on an imaginary ceiling.

Note: I owe an apology to those at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio who thought that my article on the Annual Extravaganza was in any way disparaging. I think that my function here is to lift up the conversation and have a little fun, but I refuse to do that at the expense of anyone’s feelings. And if I do, I’ll apologize for it, and I am. I truly enjoyed the show, and I applaud everyone who accomplishes something that the rest of us, and maybe even they themselves didn’t think they could or would do!

Join Rick and the No Options band after the fireworks for some kick-butt rock & roll on Saturday evening, June 29, 9 p.m. at the Back Nine, 2050 East Main St. (Route 6) Cortlandt Manor

Say hello at: rlife8@hotmail.com