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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My Pain-filled Flight Over the Pacific

The Sunday morning before the plane was to lift off and carry us away across the Pacific. I did the unthinkable as far as preparing for long sojourns in bumpy, uncomfortable seats goes. Without thinking clearly about the repercussions, I tried popping my neck with a fierce, solid jerk to one side. I did it all involuntarily, until I realized that I had really screwed something up back along my spine. I hate giving myself cricks. I can't blame the pillow and I can't blame the headlock, I can only lay blame on my own wretched hands. My head locked from nodding or shaking. So a day before our long flight I screw up my back pretty badly. I spent all day in California swallowing ibuprofens, rubbing down in Ben Gay, and turning only at my waist and not my neck nor my shoulders. By the end of the day, when our 11:30 flight approached, I was doing better.

My optimism lasted all the way until I boarded the plane and got to my seat, and just before I sat down that's when my fate changed for the worse. Sitting next to me was this hefty Polynesian woman from Fiji who needed help lifting her ridiculously heavy carry-on in the above compartment. I, being the courteous gentleman, hoisted the bag full of what seemed to be dumbbell weights. I am no weakling. Everything was okay with this bags transit from the floor to about my chest. But about chest high, an immediate savage pain goes searing through my neck and back, and all at once I realize what a feat I'm undertaking and that I really should lay the luggage back on the ground, but that male embarrassment of if I give up...all the people in the entire airplane will see it and think "what a weiner that guy can't even lift that lady's luggage for her". (the carry-on bag was small-looking; but dimensions can be deceiving). I could see the stewardess coming and lifting the bag for both of us at which the attentive passengers would applaud. And then later on, the pilot would get on the intercom and make jokes about the guy who couldn't lift the lady's carry-on. It was too much.

So in the split second dilemma with the pain cutting into my spinal muscles, I mustered up this barbaric determination and with a growl, I heave the carry-on with all the stamina inside me, into its respective place. And then I feel a knife stabbing into my back. All my upper body muscles go tense. My head seemed to drift on this dizzy wire of pain. I realize what a mistake that was. I sat down almost feeling like I could black out. And I just sat there in spinal torment thinking, "Why did I have to lift her luggage for her?" For the next few hours, it took considerable concentration to even move my arms. I had to block out the pain. I remember what a accomplishment it was to be able to get my seat belt from out from underneath me and buckle them. The Fijian woman tried conversing with me but I wasn't much help. For one, I couldn't turn my head to her, another...I was in really no mood to talk to anyone. And furthermore, I was just a little angry at her for packing her entire iron-safe collection in that carry-on of hers.

I had a long,long flight. It was a 10 hour one spent in misery and agony. And for some reason the pilot thought it would be fun to go bounding his aircraft through cloud after cloud, causing all kinds of turbulence, and giving my neck and back no respite even in their cushioned chairs. Naturally, sleeping on an airplane is usually nonexistent. I knew it was to be certain this time. I stayed awake the whole night. Wretched and Miserable. Somewhere over the Pacific, I started placing ice on the sore and this helped numb the pain some. And I guess the pain wouldn't be so bad, if I wasn't on an airplane and could lay down somewhere. But 10 hours of just sitting awkwardly in these airplane seats, my spine collecting constant weight on these soft areas on my back, made it so long and torturous.

We had a layover in Fiji the next morning. Though, only one where we could visit the airport. So I lay in the airport floor and when Tyler helped me back up off the ground, I nearly roared. We boarded the plane for the 3 hour flight to New Zealand. I had made it through the night. And I had a window seat and tried peering out into the blue vastness below. Though, I had to sacrifice alot by doing so.

In Auckland, we went through orientation for my program. And afterwards, I found a chiropractor and even got a discount for the program I'm in. The chiropractor told me that I had sprained my back and that I had 3 weeks to heal. He did several massages and some of his own useful vertebrae popping. By that evening, even though I hadn't slept in a long, long time. My back was beginning to feel better. What a friendly welcome to New Zealand. The one place...nearly every activity you engage in, you need all your joints and sinews working properly.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roar, man, roar. Let it all out. Glad to hear you got to NZ, if not altogether sound in body, at least in spirit.
JKE of 603 N. Locust

8:35 PM  
Anonymous the author said...

Thanks. I'm doing better now, though.

2:58 AM  
Blogger ПАПА said...

Along with old age comes the ever- increasing visits to the wonderful physicians, their knowledgable helpers, and their great friends in white that issue bottles of expensive miracles...better get use to it..your body is just beginning to ponder the inevitable reality of growing old my son, however it is plain to see that your mind is still playful and thankfully will remain so.

7:03 AM  

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