March 2012


I got asked a very strange question today!

On a scale of one to ten, where ten is so painful that you’d jump through a window to commit suicide, how painful is your back right now?

It’s questions like this that remind me how little I like doctors and the medical profession in general – not that I was asked this by a doctor, this was asked by my physical therapist.


I had no idea how to answer that question because I’m not sure there’s a level of pain that I can imagine that would cause me to want to commit suicide. Quite frankly, the pain that I personally imagine that is associated with self-inflicted death would discourage me from ever committing suicide.

Instead I answered, “Well, if 6 is the point where I want to go to the doctor, then I’m at a 3 or 4.”

Except, as I reflect back on my answer, that’s probably a lie – I mean, you’d have to be in pretty serious pain to want to commit suicide, right? So maybe being in enough pain that I wanted to go to a doctor is really a 3 or 4, thus meaning that my current pain level is a 1, practically painless by that scale.

Several people have told me today that I shouldn’t be nervous about going to the physical therapist, that what they do feels so great that – and this part was implied – given the opportunity, they’d go and get physical therapy every day; that it really is fantastic!

Except I am nervous about getting physical therapy – today turned out to be an information gathering session where the physical therapist was trying to figure out what I could and could not do as well as which positions caused me to feel back pain.

I have to say that I am getting better – but it really is independent of anything that the doctor did (examine me), the drugs she prescribed (ibuprofen doesn’t do squat, if you ask me), or the physical therapy (haven’t really had any yet).

My impression that this is all a bit of a fishing trip was reinforced when after my physical therapist discovered when my next appointment was scheduled – the receptionist had scheduled it for a week from today – she immediately said that it was too long and that it would be too late.

Her opinion sort of suggested to me that my problem is much like taking medicine for a cold: with drugs one gets better in seven days, without drugs it takes a week. In my case, with the physical therapy I’ll be fit as a fiddle in two weeks, but without it, I’ll be fine in a fortnight.

Really the only positive thing to come out of going to the doctor’s office last week was the official excuse from work that let me officially stay home Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile I can cope with the pain I’m in right now – it is getting a lot better.

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