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Apr 22, 2022

Let’s see … how should I describe my back issues? Um …. If there was a further sublevel of hell past anything Dante came up with where the devil himself would say, “Nope, nope, nope!”, then you pushed into a dank corner of the sewer system of that hell where stagnant, rotting remnants of the bowels of the worst demons that have ever existed have gotten caught in a gooey, churning cesspool, it might - and I say might - come close. Because, my friend, your humble host recently slipped a disc in my back, and the subsequent agony was the worst thing I’ve ever endured. It’s part of the reason for another lengthy delay in episodes of this podcast, and I’m about to tell you alllll about it, including the lessons I’ve learned, both spiritually, and in the area of my own stupidity.

From Atomic Red studios, I’m Michael Blackston, and if you thought a whiny man with a cold can be bad, wait till you hear about this latest test of my endurance straight out of my Funny Messy Life.


I sit and prepare this episode of the show feeling rather comfortable and relatively pain-free. The name of the restaurant I chose rhymes with Hizza Put, and I’m enjoying a simple order of breadsticks with extra seasoning, and a cup of alfredo sauce, instead of marinara to dip them in. (Yes, you can ask for that.) I’ve sort of gotten addicted to the breadsticks from Hizza Putt because when this whole thing started, it’s all I could think of when people insisted I eat something to stay alive. And once I decided it was an sensible enough request, it was just easier, when my wife annoyed me by asking me to make decisions in my state of pain, to scream, “Breadsticks!” 

Now, let me be clear. My wife was not actually being annoying. What she was doing was trying her best to take care of a man in his late forties who was floating in a pool of hell’s poop water. In reality, my wife, God bless her, was an absolute saint, along with several others who helped me, or prayed fervently for me, or both. In fact, I found out just how amazing my support system really is.

So here’s what happened. I’m going to go back to before Christmas, because I believe it’s the start of the whole thing.

I’ve known for years that I have a weak back, and there are a couple of reasons for that. Since I was a teenager, I’ve dealt with back trouble because:

  1. I have always hated to exercise, so I have a weak core, and …
  2. I gots Gamp Back.

“Hey, Mike … what in the name of all sewer stankwater pain is Gamp Back?”

I’m glad you asked. If you listened a few episodes ago when I talked about my perfect Christmas, you’ll hear me emote lovingly about my grandpa and how he would sit quietly watching his family as we lived our lives around him. He called himself The Gamps, obviously a babytalkish way to say Gramps, and it stuck. So while he was watching us, there were likely times he was doing so in agony from a back that gave him trouble, and because genes have this cute way of repeating themselves down a family line, a whole bunch of us ended up with torsos that easily make the decision to test the boundaries of our pain tolerance by taking a spinal version of Rumspringa. That’s the period of time where young Amish people are allowed to break from tradition and do shameful things, like chewing gum and moving their feet slightly to a beat.

During Spinal Rumspringa, members of our family will develop the aforementioned Gamp Back. Knowing this was a possibility, I should have insisted that my son, who is a young, strapping 17-year-old, change his own tire. It was that last stupid lug that did the trick. Whoever put it on must have summoned the power of Thor, and like the God of Thunder’s hammer, the lug did not want to budge. I was apparently not worthy. Yet, I insisted I was still man enough to do it, and I did, but not before I felt a slight twinge in the lower left side of my back.

“Haha. That’s gonna smart for a few days,” I laughed like a character from Father Knows Best, and finished the job.

But it bothered me a little from then on. I mean, it wasn’t bad enough that I paid it much attention, but it was constantly there, putting a damper on all of my tide yuling, shelf elfing, and Christmas tree oh-ing. Then right after Christmas, I started noticing some pretty severe sciatic nerve pain that didn’t want to go away. I wanted it to, just like you want those shiny strands tinsel to stop showing up on your clothes when you get them out of the dryer, all the way into August.The only thing worse than that is the flake green plastic Easter basket grass. Regardless of how I describe it, the pain was relentless.

My wife got tired of hearing me complain about it. It’s not that she wasn’t sympathetic with my injury, but after a while, it was clear I needed to see a doctor and and get on some kind of medicine that made me loopy to see if I could get some relief. Me being me, though, I thought that was just silly.

“You need to go to the doctor about that, and get on some medication that makes you loopy to see if you can get some relief.”

“Nah. It’ll go away. I’ve had it before, and it just has to work itself out.”

“It’s more serious than that. You really need to make an appointment. You need something for the pain.”

“Silly woman, I know my body.”

“Why would you refuse if they can help you? You’re not a young, strapping 17-year-old boy anymore. You’re not even strapping.”

“The waiting room would be crawling with COVID. I ain’t goin’. OW! My Leg!”


I also needed to see my doctor about getting back on a serious plan for my diabetes, so she threw that at me and said, “Oh, and by the way ... You’ll be mentioning your leg and back.”

Fine. I made the appointment and he gave me some steroids for the pain, along with a good talking to about Cadbury Creme Eggs and the role I’ve allowed them to play in my life. Spoiler alert: They are not the hero.

To my surprise, the steroids made me feel a LOT better, and pretty fast. So fast, in fact, that just before going on a trip to Alabama, I moved a block of granite in my backyard without help because I STILL would not believe that I was neither young, nor strapping. Then I worked a weekend where I set my posture badly and didn’t move for about six hours, then turned around and drove home five hours. I think I also found an early stock of Cadbury Creme Eggs and crammed them into my face like a honey badger.

I soaked in a bath once I got home, and it felt great after the drive. It was hot, and it was soothing … for a couple of minutes. Then I noticed something. The muscles in the lower left part of my back and my left leg began to tighten in a painful way.

I removed the pretend pipe from between my teeth, and stated, “Gee, that doesn’t just smart. That’s a sure enough, gosh-golly bite from the jaws of a hell hound. And is that sewer water I smell?”

At first it was uncomfortable, then worse, then unbearable. Now, as you know from earlier, I’m not one for doctors, but I quickly decided to calmly, make another statement to my wife. I said, “OH GOD! YOU GOTTA TAKE ME TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM! I’M DYING, KAYLA! THIS IS IT! I AIN’T GONNA MAKE IT OUTTA HERE, BUT WE HAVE TO TRY. WE HAVE TO TRY!!!”

She rushed to my aid, and we rushed to the hospital. That, itself, is its own story, but not for right now. Actually, the hour ride to the hospital that’s NOT run by drunk llamas wasn’t bad. Something about the way I could place my legs gave me a decent amount of relief. I was seen by the ER, given drugs that made me loopy, and sent home. The next few days went as follows:

MY WIFE - “How are you feeling?”


MY WIFE - “Still that bad? Is there anything I can do to help the pain?”


MY wife - “Let me at least get some food in you. What would you like?”


During the night, I writhed and moaned like a baby because I could get no relief, no matter what positions I tried.  Sitting up, lying down, legs in the air, legs off the side of the bed, Bound Lotus, Congress of a Spider Monkey … all of them. Kayla couldn’t sleep, but she did everything she could to care for me. Again, she’s been a saint. That was pretty much the long and short of our lives for most of two weeks until we could get in to see a chiropractor. I’d never been to a chiropractor before, and I was skeptical. I hobbled in like Quasimodo, and answered their questions as best as I could.

“Where does it hurt?”


“How long has it been hurting?”


“Are you able to eat?”


And then, a man entered the room. There was a heavenly glow surrounding his head. At first I thought he was holding a lamb in his arms, but it turned out to be a white towel to put under my head. He gently took my leg into his hands and taught me a motion that moved in concert with him to loosen the nerve. He bent my body in a couple of ways I never would have thought possible, much like I used to twist and contort my sister’s dolls when I wanted to practice ancient torture methods, but somehow, this felt amazing. He then leaned in, pressing his body weight into me with the skill of a medical Samurai (please don’t come at me with something like, Chiropractice, Chiropracticality? Chiropractation? Chiropractation! … isn’t technically medicine, fah fah fah!) I don’t care. It was to me. Actually, it felt like a miracle because when I left, I could actually walk. And that night, I could sleep. And the next day, I considered moving around some of the blocks of granite in my backyard. 

Actually, I took his advice, and have been doing everything exactly as he instructed. I saw him the next day for another adjustment, and saw him twice a week for the next six weeks. And after that, there will be at least a monthly visit for the rest of my life because I am a staunch believer now.

It wasn’t just him, though. There was a ton of prayer and promises to act right, pray more, read my bible, and never ever again attempt the congress of anything with the name of an animal in it. In addition, my family doctor advises that I steer clear of as many burgers and creme eggs, and make more of a habit of visiting something that rhymes with Balad Sar.

So it’s a good news/bad news sort of thing.

The good news is that I’m nearly completely recovered now from my back injury, and relatively pain free.

The bad news is that to stay that way, I need to engage in a healthy lifestyle. But these breadsticks with extra seasoning are SO GOOD!