Column: The Bad Back

This column first appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post.

It is Thursday and I have had a bad back all week.

I felt it pop on Saturday while I was power washing the patio. I don’t need the accolades or the acclaim and I certainly don’t need sympathy. It’s just the sacrifices we make for a clean garden path.

The doctor told me to rest. ‘Do stay moving,’ she said, ‘but nothing to strenuous.’

I have absorbed the doctor’s advice as it was intended – and taken it as licence to do absolutely nothing at all.

‘You can’t mess around with these things,’ I said to Michaela as she cooked and did the washing up on Sunday, ‘I just have to take it seriously.’

‘It’s doctor’s orders,’ I said as she hung out the washing on Monday evening.

‘I wouldn’t want to do any long-term damage,’ I said on Tuesday, as she left to take out the recycling.

‘You just can’t rush these things,’ I said on Wednesday, while I watched her build the new garden furniture. ‘Still, you could eat your dinner off that patio.’

Thursday, and I’m feeling much better. The pain has subsided and I climb out of bed with ease. 

The cat’s litter tray needs cleaning out,’ she says as I arrive downstairs.

I could. I should. But then, do I want to risk it? I mean, you never know, my back could still be weak. It could go again any moment. And I power washed the patio at the weekend, don’t I deserve a few days off? I don’t think it would be totally outrageous to squeeze another day or two out of this. It’s what Michaela would want, deep down. And I could swear she was actually enjoying doing the jobs around the house. It’ll be fine. Everything evens itself out. Just a few more days.

I squint and point to my back. ‘I would, but, you know…’

She dutifully takes the litter scoop and starts shovelling.

Ping. My phone. A text. My friend Joe.

Hi mate. We’re a player down for 5-a-side tonight. How is the back? You up for it?

I am, Joe. I am up for it. I could… could I… make this work?

‘You know,’ I say with my most convincing stroke of the chin, ‘I think I should start exercising again. Movement is really important for a bad back.’

‘Oh, really?’ says Michaela, willing me on to continue but knowing exactly where this was going.

‘I don’t want to seize up entirely.’

‘No, you don’t.’ she says, almost sarcastically.

‘The guys are a player down for the football tonight and…’

‘And that would be a terrible place to start, wouldn’t it?’ she asks, without really asking at all.

I pause and look to the floor. ‘Well…’

‘Because that’s too much movement, isn’t it?’ she interrupts.

I take a deep breath. ‘Yes.’

‘But you’re right, you need to start small movements again. The doctor did say that, didn’t she?’

I pause. ‘Yes. Yes, she did.’

‘And this litter tray needs cleaning out, doesn’t it?’

‘Yes. Yes, it does,’ I say with a sigh, head down to the ground, caught out with nowhere to hide. She hands me the litter scoop and I start shovelling.

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By Darryl Morris

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