Steve Barnes (Photo: Editorial Associates Inc.) Well, we were going to discuss the legislative session today but (spelled with one “t”) there’s something else on my mind. And in my left hip pocket.
“Is it shooting down your leg?” asked a friend.
“No,” I answered.
“Not yet,” another pal chimed in. A fellow sufferer, a veteran of the ailment, I surmised, welcoming me to the club.
We had sat down to lunch, a few of us, and the fellow across the table caught my wince when bottom settled onto chair. He frowned.
“Back pain?” he wondered.
“Nope,” I said. “All in the right cheek, just below the belt.”
Around the table, a chorus of knowing nods.
Sciatica. As sketched on their website by the wizards of the Mayo Clinic, sciatica is “pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.”
In my case the sensation had yet to “radiate” downward, and was more an annoyance, a nuisance, than actual pain. It didn’t interfere with my sleep but was a near-constant if (I kept telling myself) minor distraction during working hours.
Still, I could guess its trajectory. I had already done a little Internet research — had gone to the literature, as they say. Sciatica is, I read, gender-neutral; it can afflict either sex, and usually only on one extremity. But it often attends individuals of a certain age, and not necessarily those who earn their living or pursue their pastimes employing their back or leg muscles.
As attested to by a couple of real brains, writing in Clinical Neurology, which isn’t sold on most newsstands. “Gradual onset may occur,” they observe, though sciatica often “presents” after the patient engages in strenuous activity, such as heavy lifting.
I went into journalism to avoid real work, especially heavy lifting, and the General Assembly usually has to meet for at least a couple of weeks before I regard it as a pain in the — hip. But “prolonged sitting,” such as the hours spent at the keyboard (or at legislative hearings, or trials) can result in sciatica.
Anticipating that the gradual onset would soon enough begin to radiate, I drove over to the World’s Greatest Doctor, who immediately concurred with my diagnosis. He suggested anti-inflammatory drugs and wrote a couple of prescriptions, which I knew I wouldn’t have filled when he mentioned, on the way out, that they were for steroids, which give me the heebie-jeebies and would spoil my chance of a Major League tryout should I be drug-tested. (A man of a certain age, especially, is entitled to harbor his fantasies).
So it was that, as I was attempting to change the subject at lunch from my haunches to anything else, a fellow reporter at table suddenly spoke. “Truck driver’s sciatica,” he grinned. A few year ago, he explained, he had experienced the same ache (and it had begun to radiate) and thought to telephone a mutual friend and former colleague, a copy editor who had left newspapering for medical school and had become a highly regarded physician. His patients included several long-haul drivers.
“Which hip?” the doctor asked.
“Which pocket you carry your billfold in?”
“The billfold — a big, thick one?”
“Try it. And don’t carry as much stuff in your wallet. Or use the front pocket.”
Consultation completed. No referral. No prescription. No charge. But no way it could be that easy.
Yet my companion related that, upon heeding our friend’s suggestion, the problem had “resolved,” as the doctors like to say, within days. I immediately took my billfold from my starboard rear pocket and jammed it into the port side. And resolved to thin it down.
Sure enough, right-to-left did the trick; haven’t felt even a flicker in days. On the right side.
The left is beginning to act up, of course. Which leaves the job of deciding what in the billfold absolutely has to be in there. And whether those absolutes can be reduced sufficiently to fit in one of those little flip wallets that a lot of guys carry, per the doctor’s suggestion, in a front pocket (where I’ve always tucked in the folding money).
A jacket pocket would work, except on those warm, jacket-less spring and summer days — though I’m told we’re fast approach the day when some app on a cell phone will transact even the smallest purchase, reducing or even eliminating the need for conventional credit cards.
Until then, because sciatica is gender-neutral, should I consider carrying a …
Nah. Just gimme an aspirin.
COPYRIGHT 2019 EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES, INC.
Click here to view original web page at A case of sciatica