I’d love to tell you I threw out my back lifting a Buick to save a small child, but I was actually reaching down to tighten a lawn sprinkler head. I was not attempting to lift the full weight of nearly one ounce piece of plastic, mind you, just twisting it tight. This was not the first time I had thrown out my back. I blame it on carrying around a heavy brief case for 20-plus years and throwing my spine off kilter, but deep down, I also harbored the guilt of shoveling down hundreds of pounds of peanut M&Ms over that same period. (Oh, they do go down smooth.)
The first time I threw out my back was several years ago. I was engaged in the physically challenging act of reaching down to pull a file from a lower cabinet. In any event, a searing, paralyzing pain shot up my spine, and I knew I was in big trouble. Later that day, a chiropractor introduced me to the nirvana of an “elastic lumbosacral belt.” This is an eight-inch elastic strip of material that you stretch across your lower back and then secure in front of your belly with Velcro. Instant relief. A gift from God.
But here’s where the story takes a cruel twist. The next morning when I’m dressing for work and pulling on my suit pants, I realize I’ve got some extra room. My pants are actually baggy. The belt securing my lower back has coincidentally, and quite delightfully, pulled in my belly and given me a much unearned svelte midsection. I moved over to the mirror and turned sideways. A smile crept across my face.
After a few days, the pain in my back subsided, but out of caution (I told myself), I continued to wear the belt. However, this came to a sudden halt when my wife asked me a few days later, “Do you still need that belt?” This forced me to stop lying to myself. I wasn’t putting on a lower back support belt. I was putting on a girdle. A Man-Girdle.
Sadly, it was time to hang up my beloved belt and face the truth. And it forced me to begin doing what any other guy would do in my position. I immediately went out to my yard and began tightening every sprinkler head I could find – the ones that needed it, and the ones that didn’t.