A few years ago I spent an hour or so bouncing up and down in the back of an SUV (aka ambulance) with two cracked ribs, after having taken a corner on my motorbike with the bikes stand down. Not much fun at the time, but in hindsight the story is quite amusing. When I reached the hospital the doctor injected a large syringe of something into me and then a couple of minutes later let my friends drive me home. I felt great and told them no, dont bother to hang around and look after me, its no big deal, Ill see you tomorrow, after I get back from rock climbing.
The next day I tried to get up but found myself unable to move a muscle, pinned to the bed by the extreme pain of moving so much as an inch. I soon realised that I wasnt even going to be able to climb out of bed, never mind up the rock faces of the Railay peninsula, as I had so rashly insisted the previous night that I was going to be able to do. Even worse, I badly needed to go to the loo and, as I was living alone in a cut-off and isolated patch of jungle, there would be nobody to hear me if I yelled for help. Thank goodness for mobiles I thought, reaching for my Samsung, which to my disappointment I found was a foot or two out of reach.
Not good, no, not at all good I mused, looks like Im going to wet my bed, how uncool is that? I lay in bed trying to do my best to avoid the unavoidable until, with great relief, I heard my friend Sai walk in my houses front door. She didnt believed me when I said I was all right the night before, and had come to see if I was OK. After seeing what was the problem, she grabbed me under my shoulders and pulled me out of bed, from where I was able to get to the loo, without further help but doubtlessly looking somewhat silly, hobbling along with my knees pressed tightly together in order to keep the waterworks from inadvertently opening.
A week later, back in hospital, the doctor pinned up an x-ray of my lower back and peered at it carefully for what seemed to be a worrying long time.
Oooo, he exclaimed to his nurse, pointing at something on the x-ray.
Oooo, she also said.
Then they showed the x-ray to me. I could clearly see the source of the oooo’s. I didnt say oooo, too, though, as I didnt have the necessary detachment – this was my lower back we were looking at, not one of theirs. Yeuuuuch, what is that, just there? I said instead, pointing out a bone chip that appeared to have broken off my spine. No surprise that my back hurts, then.
No, the doctor said, thats actually not the problem, that happened some years ago, I know that because the area between the bone chip and your spine has calcified. This is the problem, he said, and pointed instead at two broken ribs.
Oooo I said, relieved that I hadnt broken my back.
A few days later, I remembered the cause of the spinal bone chip. I had been in an Oslo nightclub, in my not-so-long-ago foolish youth, when my friend Lars had hopped up onto one of the square, small podiums in the centre of the dance-floor and had challenged me to a contest of Viking bum-barging. I foolishly accepted and we took up positions, standing on the podium on opposite corners, facing outwards. He then attempted to bash me off the podium onto the dance floor with his bum, while I tried to return the favour. At the time I was fairly skinny, so he easily won and I went flying off the podium, landing on its corner on my back. I remember badly hurt my back, for a month afterwards I couldnt cough or laugh without lots of pain.