That's all it takes these days to send a shooting pain into the lower left quadrant of my back. That's all it takes to make me double over for a split second, as my mind scans the nerves in my back to see if I can, indeed, stand back up.
That's all it takes.
What happened? How did I end up like this? I've spent the last twenty-one days, since that fateful 45-degree angle lean in my classroom, agonizing over it. Advil doesn't help. Muscle relaxants don't help. Percocet only helped because when I took it, I didn't give a damn about anything.
And that's no way to live.
It took a full week for me to be able to walk around somewhat comfortably. I thought the worst was over. And then I woke up a few days ago, that familiar pain in my left hamstring, that invisible tugging on my spine, that let me know that I had done something wrong - slept in a weird position? Knelt down for just three seconds too long? Neglected to ice my back that tenth time?
Am I walking too much? Too little? Should I be stretching my muscles out more? Less? Should I be taking it easy, allowing my body to heal? Should I be pushing myself back into flexibility?
I simply don't know.
All I know is that I don't want to be one of those people with chronic pain. The kind of pain that is always there, even in your happiest moments, causing you to see the world through a slightly grey filter. The kind of pain that keeps you from doing the things you love, even if those things are simple things like doing a jigsaw puzzle.