Well, it's happened -- that is, it's happened again ... or still ... or something:

That "I'm-getting-old" moment has hit. Hard.

Let me set the scene.

We were visiting while sitting around a table at the Shelbyville Dairy Queen -- the happenin' place to be -- on Sunday. Since I'd been limping, I was telling the other 40-somethings at the table (who hadn't heard yet) about the return of my sciatica; that I can't walk for more than 50 feet without being in pain; that I can't stand for more than a minute before the pain starts to become excruciating; yada yada yada, whine, grumble, boo-hoo.

One of the others about my age started talking about the aches in his hands. Could it be arthritis?, we wondered. The other gal about my age mentioned her own physical ailments.

Then I looked around at the trio of 70- and 80-somethings sitting with us.

Well! Aren't we a bunch of wimps!?

My mother has Multiple Sclerosis and handles it like a champ. The other two also really cool, hardy ladies at the table have now and have conquered previous serious afflictions. Just who are we, the younger set, to complain?

I can't help it, to a degree -- I've been in near-constant pain since July 5 when this blankety-blank back trouble decided to return. Darn it. I knew that last back flip on the Fourth was one too many.

If you didn't laugh there, you don't know me. The idea of this completely uncoordinated fat gal doing a back flip is nothing if not giggle inducing...unless it's just scary.

So last week I picked out my first cane.

Oh, I already had one at home. It's an "old hickory" style that was our neighbor's, Earl Westenhaver, who was like a grandpa to my sisters and me. I kept it for sentimental reasons and because, hey -- you never know when you're going to need a cane.

But with this latest sciatica flareup, I decided I ought to have an adjustable cane so it's the proper height and might do me the most good.

Well. You'd think a cane is a cane is a cane, right? Oh no.

First of all, surprisingly enough, the drugstore didn't have a cane that was also a sword. Imagine my disappointment. They didn't have one that doubles as a firearm, either, but that one probably would have been out of my price range. I'm not James Bond, you know.

So which style of handle to get? Padded? Plain? How about a quad cane, or one of those with the pivoting base? I checked out one or two, but they kind of made a rattling metallic sound when I walked with them, and I didn't like that.

I finally chose a hefty one that makes no noise as you walk and, I noticed later, is rated up to 500 pounds. I guess if I don't employ it for its intended use, I can keep it in my truck as a hook to tow a small passenger vehicle, or all my nieces and nephews together on roller blades.

Well, the cane hasn't helped, but now I have it, so that's something.

I'm continuing to do my physical therapy, which seems to help the most. Ice also gives some relief. But I've started to get creative in my search for healing.

I've honed and practiced a string of curse words that might make a sailor blush. Of course, I only employ these mentally or when at home alone. If I hobble down to the basement to do laundry, as the pain increases with every step when I return upstairs to the nearest chair, I tried a few curse words with increasing vehemence to combat the ache.

That didn't work. Besides, I felt guilty about cussing.

I've tried humor. If Quasimodo walked that way because he had sciatica, it's no wonder he didn't want to come down from the bell tower. My own bell tower is my recliner, where I can get the most relief from my hip pain, which is where the issue appears to center, even though it actually stems from a pair of bulging discs in my back.

I thought "Quasimodo" might be a good new nickname, but I don't have that hunch back ... yet.

I tried doing things to get my mind off the issue. I enjoyed a book of "Fabulous Fishing Funnies" that my friend Betty gave me. They're all cartoons, so they're big on imagery and short on words: perfect for a person who reads all the serious news of the day (and some not so serious) all day long, and needs a break.

Next, I'll graduate to re-read my Calvin and Hobbes books of cartoons. They have more dialogue, so I'll work my way up to reading a real book.

I can't go too far without pain, so I tried sitting to rest and watching more TV than I usually watch. "Family Feud" amused me for a while, and I always keep tabs on CNN, Fox and MSNBC, but those get old, and other shows don't seem to catch my interest these days.

Motorcycling doesn't seem like a wise option, what with back trouble and all, but I do have a good cushion that would ease the pressure on my back. Now if I could get away from my desk at work long enough to ride ...

I could go fishing, and sit on a stool, but with the pain almost constant, I just don't feel like it. And when *I* don't feel like going fishing, you know there's something wrong.

Oh for crying out loud! What a big baby!

I finally decided that just plain toughing it out will have to do the trick. I'm resting as much as I can, which helps the most. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my recliner?

My bouts with sciatica have given me new empathy for people who have chronic pain and deal with chronic illnesses. My friend in the Atlanta area has Hidradenitis Suppurativa‎ (HS) -- try to say that three times really fast -- and this debilitating skin condition has rendered her unable to simply sit in a chair for nearly two years now.

So, no more complaining from me. Plenty of folks have it worse than I do. I think of veterans who suffer daily from severe wounds they received serving our country. I think of people with ailments far more debilitating than anything I've ever come close to having.

You know, suddenly I don't feel so bad. Don't mind me. I'll just limp along until it gets better. As my mom wisely says, "It'll either get better or it'll get worse."

Can't argue with that.

Penny Weaver is the associate publisher and editor of the JG-TC. Her columns include her own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of the JG-TC. Contact her at pweaver@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6863, and follow her on Twitter @PennyWeaver.

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