Monday, February 02, 2009

Incapacitated in Paradise

Typical End of Day
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
My worst nightmare what-if scenarios regarding cruising on a sailboat with three children, a cat and the Apocalyptic Horsemen was never a big storm, sinking, or sharks. Crocodiles on the dock eating my cat was a concern, but it didn't really turn me off. I scoffed at the notion of pirates, and I'm afraid I somewhat openly sneer at those afraid to drink the water or eat the food. Oddly, my worst nightmare involved sending DrC to Seattle and then having my back go out.

Ain't life funny?

Here we are in paradise, the girls are healthy and happy, the boat is clean for the first time in months, we're well stocked on food and water, and we've made great friends in Zihuatanejo. We're working madly on SailFest and the girls are rotating turns at the morning cruisers net. We spend our days on school and chores, errands, palapa sits, swimming, kayaking, and trips to the local bars and restaurants. The weather is absolutely perfect.

I, however, can't move.

In one of my very first posts -- over two years ago now -- I describe a moment during which I lose all dignity and slide like a greased pig down the icy transom into the frigid waters of the Puget Sound. The article was amusing, the situation fraught with danger and lessons for myself, my children and my readers. What I failed to mention was that during the process, I badly injured my back. I think it's like an ankle or knee injury. A small bit of key tissue in the lower spinal cord ripped away from the bone. With time and a great deal of drugs, it gradually heals and stops hurting and I can function normally. However, the injured area is never the same. And like a turned ankle, you can just walk along and suddenly you're back to square one with the ankle. For years.

This is my back. I have been fine for months. Oh yeah, I bitch about the bed. I think our next attempt to fix the bed, by the way, is to buy a mattress. There's got to be something useful about our catamaran using standard queen size beds for the aft cabins. No, this isn't a problem with the bed. Somewhere, somehow I managed to "turn the ankle" of my lower back during the past week. Now I'm immobilized.

The pain is phenomenal in ways that only someone experienced with back pain can relate to. You're either a back pain virgin, or you've popped your back pain cherry and know precisely what I'm talking about. The worst part of a back injury, in my opinion, is that your body attempts to prevent the spasms by clenching all the muscles around the injured area. So instead of having a nice, localized bit of pain, you end up hurting from the mid back all the way down to your knees.

I'm on a really spectacular pharmacopoeia of drugs. DrC knew this would happen and stocked up. Between the muscle relaxers and the ibuprofen, I'm barely present. I've tried walking and swimming, stretching and pilates, and really the only thing that is helping is more drugs. To that end, the "dinghy boy" here in Zihua -- Nathaniel is 56 and one of the nicest men you'll meet -- turned me on to a topical analgesic which is doing wonders. You can literally buy anything over the counter in Mexico. For all I know this stuff is made of ground turtle flippers and cocaine. It works pretty well so I'm not going to pull out the Spanish-English dictionary.

There is no help but to simply ride it out. The girls are stepping up to the plate, feeding themselves, keeping the boat straightened, not falling overboard and drowning like rats. However, I'm not getting anything substantive done. My Zihua list is at a standstill; My clients must think I've fallen off the planet. In fact, the latest dose of muscle relaxer is taking effect, and I'm about to collapse into bed again.

DrC comes home in three days. I think I might rent a room when he gets here. Something just for me with endless hot showers, an air conditioner, and a nice firm bed. Maybe room service. Thanks to the kindness of Beach Access, Sky, and Precious Metal, we'll be okay till the big guy arrives. I think.

Nothing like facing down your worst nightmore.


Anonymous said...

Toast, been there - done that. Had disc surgery 15 years ago and still have to be careful every day. When I was in the ER the pain was so bad the nurses said that they were wondering when the baby was going to come out :-).
Hang in there, we feel for you.
Kirk and Donna

Anonymous said...

ah man - I've been there. And it ain't fun. I hope, for your sake and for your girls, that you are up and back to relatively normal soon! I know it'll take time, but hopefully not too much of it!


inklenaomi said...

have you tried a hammock? I have a friend that winters in mexico that swears by sleeping in hammocks.
Good luck, and nice to know the girls can step up when needed.

Singing Land Cruiser said...

Ahhh, my dear Toast, I feel and know your pain. I ripped mine as a corpsman in the navy. You know, " young & dumb " Hang in there.
PS, I am realy stoked you read our blog, that was sooooo cooool, your the best. Michael & Christi Hargis