The Gimp Lives
On Saturday, we were trying to figure out exactly where to cut the openings for the outlets. I had the bright idea that Darwin should lift the massive cast iron sink and hold it in position on the wall, so we could see if the spot we'd marked would work.
But as Darwin struggled to grasp the beast, I reconsidered. "We can just measure it!" I said. "Don't worry about it!"
Have I mentioned my husband is stubborn?
"I can get it," he insisted.
"At least let me help," I said, but he just laughed and pointed out that I wouldn't be much help.
He was probably right. I'm not known for my upper body strength, and I'd already squashed my finger between it and the edge of the trunk when I was trying to get the thing home.
So I just stepped back and let him go.
The sink was lying on a bed of cardboard across the narrow room from its final position. Darwin half-squatted and heaved the thing up onto his thighs. He turned with it and hobbled toward the wall, then leaned into it briefly with the sink.
"Okay, looks fine," I said quickly, seeing his face turn red and his forehead vein protrude.
Then came the worst part - lowering the gargantuan sink back down onto the cardboard. He couldn't let it drop because it would certainly dent the pine floor and probably shake the house from its foundation. I watched him carefully lower it, his face turning purple now, and worried for him and for the floor.
At last it was down. He straightened, and all was well. He continued on to cut the outlet holes (a dramatic process in its own right, since the circular saw was smoking and the other tools just weren't doing the job).
That night as we got ready to go to the Tuscaloosa Ballroom Dance Club Christmas Ball, Darwin complained of his back hurting. I ignored him because that complaint was mixed in with about 50 other reasons he didn't want to go to the Christmas Ball.
We made it to the ball and managed to have fun in spite of his complaints and initially bad attitude. He danced the rumba like a champ and finally conquered a waltz move that had stymied him in the past.
We went home and to bed in high spirits.
Then Sunday morning, Darwin woke with a pain in his back. He'd had this sort of pain before. For a few days at a time, it would make him walk slowly, bent to the side. Like those other times, I found his old-man walk pretty hilarious and nicknamed him The Gimp.
But then it got worse. He could barely walk by bedtime, and he couldn't find a way to sit that didn't hurt. When I found out he was hurting all the time, it stopped seeming funny.
He woke up first thing the next morning, hoping it had gone away. Instead, it was worse, and he woke me up to show me something weird. Even when he was standing straight up, his torso slanted to the left from the waist.
He called into work - something he hasn't done all year - and I knew it was bad if he was willing to mess up his perfect attendance record 9 days before the end of his work year.
I took off work, too, and drove him to the chiropractor. We'd never been to one before, but his brother had been to this guy, and a 9:15 appointment sounded a heck of a lot better than sitting in the miserable hospital waiting room for hours just to get a prescription for Loritab and a referral somewhere.
On the way, he whined about every bump in the road, which was pretty weird for Darwin. I never hear him whine about much.
While we waited for the doctor, we studied the skeletal diagrams on the walls and tried to figure out which one might depict Darwin's problem.
When the doctor - a young, personable guy - came in, he poked and prodded Darwin and made him bend and maneuver. Darwin couldn't bend over from the waist more than an inch or so, and even that pained him. I'd never seen him really hurt before, and it brought tears to my eyes to see him in so much pain.
The doctor could tell right away what was wrong - a slipped disc. I'd heard the term before but didn't really know what it meant. The doctor pointed to a diagram and explained that a disc doesn't actually "slip" but becomes damaged. In Darwin's case, it had probably been thin for a while and had probably been injured before. The sink just triggered a problem that had been waiting for an opportunity to happen.
The doc took X-rays of Darwin's back and showed us how Darwin's hips had twisted, making one leg 2 inches shorter than the other. The muscles in his back and hips had contracted to protect the inflamed disc, the lowest in his spine.
It was a pretty freaky sight, but the doctor said he could get him straightened out again in about a week. So Darwin has been at the doctor twice a day all week and will continue to go. Today, he drove himself for the first time. He put on his own pants and shoes, and he's walking at almost-normal speed, though his body is still oddly twisted.
I'm thrilled that he's doing better. The spine is not something to mess around with, and I admit I'm scared this won't be the last we hear from that pesky disc.
We both know this will change the careless way we do things in our home improvement. We have neighbors/friends who can help and are willing to help when we need to move something heavy. There's no reason Darwin should risk his health just to be all independent macho man.