Speaking of discomfort (see what I did there?), my back hurts. Not all of the time; only when I really need it not to. Which, frankly, is bloody annoying. I'll give you an example; yesterday I was hoping to ferret around under the bonnet of my car in order to try to diagnose a small problem I've been having. A search on the internet based on the symptoms gave me some clues, and I had a cheery optimism about me as I pulled the car into the garage (well- half way into the garage; it's too full of life's flotsam and jetsam to allow me to get the entire car under cover). I opened the bonnet (yes, America, I do mean the 'hood' - I wonder where that linguistic disparity arises from?) and peered into the oily shadows.
That was the first nuisance: shadows. It was bright sunshine outside and that meant that dark shadows were being cast into the engine bay, dammit. I had to go and climb over some flotsam (it may have been jetsam, I couldn't be sure) to find my inspection lamp, plugged it in and shone it on the relevant area. The lamp did a quite wonderful job of highlighting the second nuisance, which was of course that I was going to need my reading glasses in order to be able to make out any details. Dammit. Upstairs I trudged to find them, put them on, and then take them off again as I almost fell down the stairs courtesy of their strange distorting powers. I hate wearing glasses. As I approached the car I put them back on and adopted that strange, bloodshot eye expression of peering over the top of them in order to avoid banging into things, and than pulling my nose up towards my forehead as I looked down and through them at the engine components.
The third nuisance, experienced by men everywhere as they stand staring at the engine bay of their cars, was that the problem did not immediately identify itself. In fact, despite me leaning over the engine for several minutes, the problem did not even slowly identify itself. Only when I began to straighten up did the fourth and much more affective nuisance make itself apparent. Pain. Pain in the lower left portion of my back. It didn't hurt when I leaned forward (to my customary 35.7 degree angle) - oh no, it suckered me in into leaning (how unreasonable!) and then getting me on the way back up to verticality! AT first it was a dull roar, the kind of thing that makes me invoke the name of a radical Jewish bloke who died around two thousand years ago courtesy of some intolerant Romans. However, within a short period of time the ache transformed itself into a cramp ('cramp' is such a good word, isn't it? You can get lots of feeling into that word...) which had me sucking air through my teeth, swearing quietly and emitting a self-pitying groan.
I'm a stubborn ******* (I mean, why else would I persist with this blog when nobody shares it? Answer I refuse to let go of the idea that one day somebody with more money than sense will come across it and like it and start telling people about it - hell, even wish to develop some of my ideas) and so I was determined to press on with my task, although my effectiveness was suffering due to the distraction caused by my cramps (I think 'cramp' should always be in italics: it suits it). Each time I leaned over the engine I found that supporting my weight on the car with my arm helped to delay the onset, but I was unable to devise a way of straightening up without using my back muscle and invoking an increasing jolt of hurtiness. After forty five minutes, the pain was making me sweat, I couldn't concentrate on the job at hand. Everything was by this time annoying the hell out of me (sorry if my use of 'hell' disturbs you, but in my defence, I really wanted to use 'shit', but toned it down a little). My stubborn streak was annoying me most of all.
I had reached that point when everything seems to go wrong; when the dropped screw, provided with extra energy by a universe with a perverse sense of humour, rolls a totally unreasonable distance out of reach; when the screwdriver transports itself to a spot where I definitely DID NOT put it down; where the unscrewed and dropped nut disappears into a rip in the space-time continuum, and where the sweat drips onto my glasses and makes EVERYTHING blurred. I started to catch my knuckles on things, I began to swear more loudly each time my back muscle poked me in the pain receptors, and my back itself began to stop working altogether. It became obvious that the battle was being lost. The task at hand wasn't imperative, there was something else useful that I could be doing, and the signs were that my muscles on one side of my back were getting themselves ready (in fact, they seemed to be in the player's tunnel, waiting to charge out onto the pitch) to engage in some honest-to-goodness, old fashioned spasms.
And so, with a sigh and a few well chosen expletives (mostly anglo-saxon in nature), I put down my tools and gave up. The pain had beaten me, had made a simple job just too bloody awkward, and had, as a coup de grace, effectively threatened me with much worse (anyone who's had a muscle - particularly in the back - go into spasm knows how difficult it can be). As my beloved's choice of occupation (extremely worthwhile, important, but emotionally challenging) has brought home to me, and as my teenage daughter keeps reminding me with unconscious poignant wit; we only live once, and the journey isn't particularly long, even if we are lucky enough to have what we traditionally regard as a 'long' life. There are always better things to do than pursue a task beyond the point of diminishing returns, especially when one of those returns is pain in the lower back! I'm still pissed off about having the wrenched muscle in the first place, but I am at the same time rather pleased with myself (I know that this probably seems a little pathetic but I'll get over that thought) for finally having the good sense, at the age of forty eight, to STOP what I am doing before I hurt myself any further.
It's a new concept; I'm thinking of making it my newest hobby.