Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Pain In The Back

This is my first post for a week. There is a reason. I've hurt my back.

My expedition to climb K2 in a wheelchair was going well until I had to traverse a ledge that required swinging on a rope some 30 feet across a vertical drop of 400 feet. Suddenly the 3 year old son of one of the Sherpas kicked his red ball over the edge and ran to follow it. As the child began to tumble I had a spilt second to adjust the settings on my whiz-bang new wheelchair to rescue mode and change the direction of my swing. I plucked the child out of mid-air and kicked the ball back to safety. But as I handed the boy back to his grateful father the wheels on my wheelchair lost their grip on the ice and I felt myself slipping over the ledge and beginning to fall. Instinctively, I reached for the safety rope but it was too late and I fell the 400 feet towards the rocky terrain below. Fortunately my time in the Parachute Regiment had taught me how to roll with the fall and absorb the impact. Even so, I suffered a back strain.

That is what should have happened to be commensurate with the degree of pain I have suffered. The truth however is somewhat more mundane. Polly was helping me adjust my position so I could go to the loo. Suddenly the headrest on my chair gave way and I slipped back and sideways. I didn't slip far and although I was surprised and a little shaken no harm was done. Or so I thought. We fixed the headrest and I forgot about the incident. Until a few hours later.

In recent weeks I have been able to cut down on my pain relief medication by at least 80%. All that was undone by the time I whimpered my way to bed. The next few days were excruciatingly painful. I was unable to even lean forward enough to sip coffee through a straw. Being hoisted here, there and everywhere several times a day wasn't helping.

Being male I gritted my teeth and manfully bore the pain uncomplainingly until Polly had had enough and rang the doctor. He wanted to check it wasn't kidney stones or something more exotic than a strained back and then prescribed Diclofenac Sodium 50mg, an anti-inflammatory pain killer. Today I feel marginally better. At least I can drink coffee without nearly passing out. And I can wield a stylus once more.