Don’t Judge Me (Wherein I Declare Decisive Victory Over a Spinal Injection)

So, you may have noticed I haven’t been updating the site much. I have been busy at work, but that isn’t what has been stopping me.

We all know the cliche of the tortured artist, where great art comes from pain. I have had enough pain over the past few months to fuel several artists, and no great art has come of it. Unless you can count my whimpering on the floor as performance art.

This back thing has just been horrible. Worse than I imagined it could be. I have never had any back pain in my life. I played basketball and volleyball through high-school, and volleyball in college. By the way, BYU still lists this personal information about me in my player profile:

… studied nuclear physics … served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maracaibo, Venezuela … started playing volleyball because his twin brother convinced him to try out in the ninth grade.

One of those things isn’t quite true. I will let you guess which one.

Back to the point I was making…

I have never had any pain in my back, not even a sore muscle! Nothing! And out of the blue I have been struck down.

My first theory was that my twin brother Joe has been really evil lately and this has been a case of smiting mistaken identity. But if that were going to happen, he would have been struck by lightning a long time ago.

Really, I think the answer is that I have helped more people move than I can count, and my back actually finally gave out after helping lay sod all day for a Habitat for Humanity house.

Don’t worry, this experience has not been lost on me. I have learned from it. I share with you my wisdom:

Don’t help anyone ever! All your good will and all of your good deeds will just be distilled into the vile black essence of agony and injected straight into your spine.

If I had known this was going to happen I would have gladly told the Habitat for Humanity people to live in a box, or eat cake or something. In fact, I am thinking of going back and burning the house down.

Don’t judge me!

If you knew how badly my back has been hurting that would seem entirely reasonable. Man, I have always wanted to yell, “Don’t judge me!” It was just as good as I hoped. I totally recommend doing it, though I would say it would be even more satisfying in person than delivered through pixels.

In fact, as long as you are not judging me I can tell you that my brother just left on a business trip to India and asked me if I wanted him to bring anything back. I told him, “Find a man who is 6’6” and bring me his spine! There are a ton of people there, no one will even notice.“

Don’t judge me!

So today I had a spinal block. Basically they injected some anesthetic and some cortisone right down into the nerve root. The cortisone will reduce the inflammation over the next little while and should buy me a month or so of pain relief. That is heaven.

The spinal block itself is not pleasant. (That is right pregnant ladies, I have had sciatica for months and just got an epidural. No more holding that whole ”pregnancy and birth“ thing over me). You lie flat on your stomach, which, if your back is like mine, will be enough pain for one day. The doctor uses a fluoroscope (a live x-ray) to guide the placement of a needle right to the nerve root in the spine. It feels a bit like a root canal in your lower back.

This was my second spinal block, so I knew what to expect and I was not very excited about it (I prefer to say ”not very excited“ instead of scared, it sounds so much better). While I lay on my stomach with my butt in the air (apparently dignity can interfere with a spinal block as much as it can with an MRI) and my face buried in a cushion with a blood pressure monitor on my arm and a heart rate monitor on my finger.

I graduated in psychology (dang, I gave away the answer to the volleyball profile trivia contest!) so I knew that my nervous state, and general not-so-happy-that-my-back-hurts-twenty-four-hours-a-day state of mind was going to lower my pain threshold. I decided to try to take control of my feelings and deeply relax while my spine was stabbed.

I started off by smiling. I smiled through the whole thing. I also breathed deeply and focused on relaxing.

It worked. The pain was totally minimal, and afterwards the nurse monitoring my vitals said, “That was crazy. Normally people’s heart rate and blood pressure rise a lot during the shots, yours actually dropped.”

If I could have stood (my leg was entirely numb) I would have jumped up and said, “What’s up now spinal block? I OWN YOU!”

Hey, I am not having a whole lot of victories here lately. I’ll take them where I can get them.

11 responses for Don’t Judge Me (Wherein I Declare Decisive Victory Over a Spinal Injection)

  1. Elyse says:

    Interesting theory – but I remember you and Joe playing volleyball in High School and I can’t imagine him having to “talk” you into it.

    As for your equating the epidural with the birthing process….. Granted that is one step in the eventual process – for the lucky women who actually accept it – you, as a man, missed the most fun part. The actualy birthing of a child.

    I am sorry you suffer so. Back pain is a horrible and often debilitating thing, and at least you now have people to blame for it. The da** homeless!

    I was lucky enough to develop double vision and poor-vision-induced-crazyness when I was pregnant with Finn and now since I have had “it” (the double vision -not my son) for almost two years – I blame the fact that we as a race keep procreating. So in keeping with the tone of your post – down with children! As an evolution major I can say this. No more children! For anyone! Only bad things happen!

    Don’t judge me.

  2. Kerry says:

    As a fellow tall person, who used to be taller than the Penrods briefly in high school(darn you both and your extra inch). I believe it is a classic case of Bigguyitis. It has been my experience that those under 6 ft tend to view those who are taller as almost superheros. And thusly indestructible. At least I think this accounts for my wifes random punches and shoves to which should I say “ouch” she reminds me “That doesn’t hurt you, your a big guy!”.

    This is why we will always be the ones asked to help people move (we obviously must be able to lift huge objects all day, we are big guys!). Or the designated office “get that high thing down for me” person. Of course the opposite is not true, I am not allowed to ask some short person to pick something up for me since they are closer to the ground. These biases against the tall, strong, and may I add good looking, must stop!

    If we bend and lift, do our backs not become sore?

  3. John says:

    I’m not sure about all the other stuff – i’m just here to guess which isn’t true (is there a prize?). I vote that you don’t have a twin?

  4. Shawn says:

    The preceeding message was brought to you by Job’s evil twin–Josh.

    By the way–Josh, you are found guilty of being so funny I wet myself. (Especially the butt in the air part).

    There…I’ve judged you. But–


  5. keegan says:

    I personally congratulate you on your victory over spinal block. I encourage you to walk down the street screaming about how much you owned that “shot.” You should then proceed to pretend you’re playing video games, rip out the nearest persons spine, and insert it into your back.

    Hope that goes well.

  6. Joe says:

    Hey now, I don’t think you want to open the whole mistaken identity/smitten by proxy bag of worms here. What were you up to on August 25 2000? Because I was being a perfect angel right up until the whole opening my chest up and inserting donor valve part of the day.

    P.S. I have been being even worse since I read this. Brace yourself.

  7. josh says:

    I can’t actually tell you what I was doing August 25, the statute of limitations hasn’t run out yet. Let me just say, my theory may have been more accurate than I initially thought.

    Please try to be good for a while.

  8. Serendipity Baby says:

    I don’t buy it. Unless your last dental experience occurred at Rusty’s Root Canals ‘n Stuff and included a hefty dose of Jack Daniel’s to “take the edge off”, root canals really aren’t that bad. Your barometer for pain is less than impressive.

  9. cooper says:

    My husband says the best thing you can do is get out of the Edlers quorum and have them make you a high priest! Then you can sit around, fake napping and never be asked to move a thing! The only thing you’ll get asked to do is visit widows. It’s much better ’cause they always have cookies or cake!

  10. dave says:


    Your fake stories about fake pain are hilarious and lifelike, keep’em coming.

    I can only imagine how awful you were as a kid to create your twins’ physical probs.

    Hope you get better, no one should have to go through this, although it for some reason doesn’t sound that bad when it is so funny

  11. martin says:

    I think the reason you are experiencing brief pain relief is not because of a “Spinal Block” or some quasi-legitimate surgical procesures.

    No, true pain relief can be wholely attributed to an Ionized braclet you can purchase from an infomercial. [Insert miracualous and untestable testimonial]

    In life always remember that pseudo-science has the answers to every problem.