Lumbar complaints are always derided by CBI-sponsored reporting as a skiver’s charter. Of course, someone will always game a given system, and a bad back is almost as hard to falsify as it is to prove. But what always confuses me—a long-term but occasional sufferer, who should be able to spot the symptoms by now—is the timescale on which symptoms seem to present themselves.
Unlike most muscular problems, damage to my back seems to develop from the point of injury on the same timescale as a skin bruise forms over joint damage: we’re talking several days, the first two or three of which provoke in me the desire to turn round quizzically and examine the base of my own spine. At this stage it’s as fun to watch as you can imagine, but a good half a week the pain sets in, and it’s all I can do to avoid standing with my shoulders offset from my hips, a weird curvature that comes from the trapped-nerve feeling I get standing straight.
I mention this because today I’m scowling in my backless (o, the irony!) chair at the grumblings coming from between my kidneys. It’s not so bad yet that all the neves in the region are jangling, and I hope I’ve caught it in time and am now self-pampering where possible, but it’s no fun. I wouldn’t mind, but what’s probably set it off was shifting a futon on Monday. Monday feels like years ago.