Backs, they’re like second hand cars. Once they start to go you’re in real trouble.
As anyone who has ever slipped a disc, trapped a nerve or got a piece of cartilage loose between facet joints will tell you – the fear is almost worse than the pain.
Suddenly your world is very small.
Sitting up takes a superhuman effort, standing is brutal and walking around and enjoying your life is just something that happens to other people.
A successful trip to the bathroom is a cause for celebration. As was brought into sharp focus three weeks ago when yours truly woke up one morning in agony which soon turned to terror.
It took 10 minutes to sit up and another three to stand straight.
It must’ve looked and sounded like an Olympic powerlifter going for a personal best because that’s what it felt like.
Four years ago I was lucky enough to find a sports physiotherapist who twisted, turned and stretched me straight after initial training for the Great North Run proved a shock to the system of a man well into his 40s who is old enough to know better.
So I texted him, saw him the next day and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail he had diagnosed the injury.
Loose cartilage between the facet joints. If I could give anyone reading this a piece of advice it would be this, don’t get loose cartilage in your facet joints.
It hurts like you’ve been kicked in the back by a horse with a bad temper.
Unless it’s terminal, you always feel a little bit better when you’ve been given a very specific diagnosis by an expert.
Then the physio handed me a list of stretches to be done every day.
No pills, no potions, no drugs, no nothing. Oh, maybe paracetamol just to take the edge off.
The thing is, these stretches hurt – and they’re meant to.
The diagrams the physio showed me looked like crude eye witness drawings of tortures meted out to detainees by the US Army and the CIA at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They take 15 minutes and every second is deeply unpleasant.
But do you know what, they work.
Three weeks later, daughters are ferried to school, and our bouncy puppy is walked to exhaustion every day with only a little twinge first thing.