A COLLECTION OF STORIES BY LUKE TAGG
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SMOKE: A Pain In The Neck

Originally published: 25 May 2005

Last week was not a good one for me. Our new forum was supposed to go live on Monday but was delayed by issues we had no control over at the time, and by the time it went up on Wednesday I'd had about six hours sleep in total since the previous Saturday.

You know all this; this is not the issue.

What you don't know is that I spent pretty much every minute of that week in unimaginable agony, and I'm not talking about my usual litany of pain - I pulled a muscle in my neck early in the week and spent most of the week coked to the gills on Myprodol, Panado and anything else I could get my hands on at short notice.

Myprodol is a heavy drug on the system and you should never take one of them on an empty stomach - I had at least eight Myprodols a day before I ate a stitch of anything in the evening, which led to serious inflammation of my spastic colon which led to ... well.

I felt sick most of the week - if not from the pain then from the medication - but by Thursday evening I was starting to come right. The neck pain had subsided, the stress of getting the forum ready was largely over and I was managing without painkillers again.

On Friday morning I woke up and felt full of the joys of spring - only nobody had bothered to tell me that spring was long gone and winter was here.

I got up, humming slightly and tested the neck gingerly - crick this way, crack that way - fine. Not a twinge. Nothing. Gone. Woohoo!

I made my tea, dipped my entire head in a bucket of drugs for 20 minutes (just to get the day started, you know?) and sat down for my morning's work.

I was typing away merrily - minding my own business and feeling good - when with utter disbelief I felt a slight, faint twinge deep somewhere inside my neck. I brushed it off immediately, but realised I couldn't avoid it and turned my eyes inward.

I desperately wanted it to be the same ricked neck I'd had all week, but a surface examination confirmed my worst fears and realised my ultimate nightmare - it was a different twinge. It was on the other side of my neck.

I'm an expert on ricked necks - it is my understanding that they come about as a result of stressed, tense muscles and they definitely strike more in the winter when it's cold.

I can spot one a mile away - just the faintest little pinch deep inside a muscle somewhere will let me know what is coming, and no matter what I do to avoid it happening nothing ever works. Once it's taken a bite it doesn't let go.

I sat there on Friday morning in complete and utter disbelief at the turn of events, because what are the chances of two ricked necks in one week? It's never happened to me before.

The beauty of a ricked neck (if there is any) is that once it's been and gone the quality of your life is usually immeasurably improved, because life with a ricked neck makes you appreciate life without one that much more.

What made it worse was that it was a Friday. Logically that should be a good thing because you then have the weekend to rest it, unlike in the week when the most rest I got was a neck-stiffening 18 hours of work a day.

But the last thing anyone needs on their weekend is an immobile neck that screams with pain every time you involuntarily move it - for me, anyway. Saturday is the only day of the week I have off and Saturday is thus my sanctuary - the holiest day of my week, and one which I always strive to make as perfect as possible.

It's anything but perfect when you have to sit bolt upright and irritatingly turn your whole torso to look at someone when they speak to you and where each and every movement you make spreads the pain further down the line.

I hate that first twinge more than anything, because it seems to small and innocuous yet you just know it is going to escalate into something fearsome with astonishing dedication.

I sat there with all this going through my head on Friday morning and as a pre-emptive strike I downed four Myprodols. No way this bastard was taking me down.

But the Myprodol didn't make a dent - the pain just kept escalating and spreading, working its slow and insidious way from my neck downwards into my right shoulder, then across to my left shoulder, taking the neck with it, and then all the way down my right hand side.


It went up my neck and down my chest, working both sides of my body and by the time I logged off after 4 in the afternoon I was an ocean of pain, and totally immobile.

It was a whopper - one of the worst I've ever had. I was moaning like a half-finished monster created in the depths of Dr Frankenstein's laboratory and left to rot - low, despairing moans which caught the attention of That Bloody Dog, who sensed here was something special going on.

"Wow! Excellent! Mad Dad moaning. Thass a good one, Dad. Let's play Dad Moans; Puppy Bites Him, Dad - thass a good one, Dad. Wow! Excellent!"

Each fresh moan of agony elicited further excitement from TBD, who - although surprised at this unexpected turn of events - welcomed it with open paws.

So I spent the rest of my afternoon having my ankles savaged and roaring in pain, which TBD took as an indication that I was enjoying it all as much as her, causing her to increase her efforts.

It was a disaster.

I kept pumping in the Myprodols all night and must have gone through at least 20 of them before supper alone, so Saturday was hell on my stomach and kidneys.

I think I passed my second kidney stone in four months, but I couldn't be sure - agonising as that is it just kind of melded into my general morass of agony.

Sunday is my busiest work day so there was no respite there, and I really had no hope for the rest of this week.

But I woke up on Monday morning, sat at my desk and realised I was in agony - but not from my ricked neck!! The agony was just the normal, everyday pain I carry around with me - an old friend, and one I know well. But the neck had magically cleared up overnight.

Now I feel cheated. I've been cheated out of my weekend. I had a week from hell last week and this week would have been fine if I'd had my pathetic little 24-hour weekly break just as I like it.

Instead I spent it visualizing a worm of pain burrowing its way with alarming intensity along the highways and byways of my muscles and moaning like a madman under a bridge.

At least it's all over now and I have my old pain back. Small mercies.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

Look at me now - all the way from Uitenhage to the bright lights of the big internet.

Find out more using the handy links provided.



Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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