It Hurts When I Do this

And by “this” I mean” everything.

At least they were just Spine Weevils and not Vertibraphids. Those are fatal.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been having some severe back pain issues for the last few weeks. I’ve had a bad back my whole life, but this is the first time that the pain has kept me from being able to sit, stand or walk. For the last few days I’ve been living on the couch in a reclined position. I really appreciate all the suggestions ou guys have been tweeting and emailing me for back pain relief and I’ve tried many of them.

I went to one chiropractor who was a complete douche-face. He talked to me for 10 minutes then gave me a bill for over $3000. I told him I couldn’t accept this “treatment plan” and he was pretty much done with me. The 2nd chiropractor I went to was much nicer and seemed concerned about actually relieving my pain rather than using me to finance his new boat. He seemed to think I have a bulging disk. Based on the description of the symptoms I would agree, but only an MRI ($$$) could confirm. I picked up an inversion table on Craigslist to stretch out my spine and hopefully allow that disk to move back into it’s natural position. Hanging upside down for by my ankles for 10 minutes at a time isn’t pleasant at all but it seems to be helping little by little.

A lot of you have suggested yoga and stretching which I am trying too. My mobility is very limited right now, so hopefully I’ll be able to do more of this sort of thing soon. I really appreciate all the well wishes and advice and I’ll keep you apprised of my [hopefully] improving condition. I’m glad I was able to do a comic about this. It’s good to laugh at your own misfortune.


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  1. back problems are the worst. they may as well be spine weavils for all the help you can get from doctors. I hope you get to not being in so much pain soon. Nonetheless, it made for great comic fodder. This made me laugh all by myself in my cubicle. For that, you get 10 points!

  2. Man, I had a back injury a few months ago. Took about 2 whole months to get back to normal and the first two weeks were absolute agony. The best part is the suspicious "are-you-a-drug-fiend" looks medical personnel give you as you beg for some relief from the demon cock fucking you're getting.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  3. The nearsighted howler monkey's spine differs from an ordinary howler monkey's in that it is actually stronger due to supporting the extra weight of glasses with coke-bottle lenses.

  4. Thank God you were kidding about the spine weevils, here I was thinking you actually had parasites of some description. Then again that's just me.

    Hope your back feels much better very soon, I've had my own problems, just not with my back, but with my head if you know what I mean.

  5. This one made me laugh out loud and feel really bad for you – in that order. Back problems are the worst. I hope you can get it taken care of without surgery.

  6. I feel your pain. It was three weeks of hell for me. 1st week it took me ten to twenty minutes to stand up from lying down and I'd walk like an old man in a cartoon. 2nd week getting better until you actually try to do anything than searing pain. 3rd week tolerable just pissy cause I wasn't able to do anything for three weeks. Stupid back, hope yours will treat you better than mine did

      • I threw mine out at work so I was lucky in the sense that I eventually got compensation. But it sucked horribly, I can't give any real advice just do what you can and it should eventually get better. I was single at the time though so no kids to lift or unitentionally hurt daddy like happened to a couple of my friends so there time was longer. No pity for them since they both hurt themselves golfing.

  7. If you want to totally cure your back do this:

    1) get your back in good shape, as close to what you think is 100% as you can
    2) start a weight lifting program.

    Your back (and all joints) gets messed up because as you lose muscle tone things loosen up which allows all the bones and ligaments to move around more than they should. Only weightlifting will fix that, and I don't mean just back exercises.

    Make sure you are using perfect form. It's not how heavy you can lift that matters, it's form. Once you have the form down perfect you can start increasing the weight. Use a mirror or video camera to check your form.

  8. I guess you don't have insurance, and even if you got it they'd call this a pre-existing condition and wouldn't cover it for another year or two.

  9. I hope you get some reprieve soon, you've kept me entertained for many an hour.
    I can sympathise with the back pain, having had full-length spinal surgery twice in 8 years. I can't sympathise with the frustration of not fully knowing what's causing it, or how to treat it.
    I hope you find something quickly, or you recover. 🙁

  10. I feel your pain. I also have been living on the reclining part of the couch for much of the last week. I am lucky to have some coverage and a really great Chiropractor. My back and the related ribs were out of place. It was hard to breathe and deep breathes or coughing, sneezing and yawning all caused loud swearing. My Chiropractor used a couple types of therapy–ultrasound and an electric stimulation/ massage therapy to relieve the spasms and reduce the pain. A couple of adjustments have gotten me functional and eventually he will get things back where they belong. He did do an exam and x-rays to look for other issues. Good Chiropractors are great, lousy ones should be drug out into the street and shot for the damage they do to people and the profession. I have heard great things about inversion tables. I hope it helps and that you will feel better soon.

  11. Right there with you. I was sitting on the floor sorting clothes last week, and when I stood up, experienced excruciating pain, and by the next morning, couldn't walk. I picked a real winner of a PCP who didn't look at or touch my back when I went in to see her. She gave me a scrip for Vicodin and an X Ray. When the X ray didn't show anything, she wanted to wait a week. But my insurance was expiring in less than a week, so we rushed the MRI, which showed a slipped disc and a herniated disc. She said I should go see an orthopedist, and I hear orthopedists are generally a better idea than chiropractors. Luckily, a friend of the family is a physical therapist and was able to recommend an orthopedist. I'd say shell out for the MRI, because that will tell you for sure if you have a disc problem, and which vertebrae the problematic disc(s) is/are between. A physical therapist should be able to recommend exercises for your specific disc problem. It's all pricey, but not knowing for sure which discs are causing the problem, and whether it's a herniated disc or a ruptured disc could be important. Though, even minor disc problems can be painful enough to put you on your back, but only need a couple weeks of complete rest to heal.

  12. Here's my advice, and it's the best advice you'll get for a bad back: go to Amazon and buy 'Treat Your Own Back' by Robin McKenzie. It's short, and mostly consists of simple exercises designed to relieve your pain and counter a slipped disc or such.

    I had such a bad back – same thing as you – I wound up being unable to work for several months or even leave my house. Couldn't stand, walk or anything. Being a writer, I could still work, so I was lucky.

    The pain was excruciating. The author of the book, Robin McKenzie, pretty much invented the methods used by most physical therapists, but the book's an awful lot cheaper. I did the exercises to be found in that book – very gentle stuff, written for people in the same boat as you – and over time I got better. I still use the exercises when I get sciatic twinges, as I still do. The relief is often immediate.

    I wasted a LOT of money on chiropractors before finding that book and I can say with the benefit of experience that chiropractors etc. are A WASTE OF TIME. Do the exercises regularly, and your back will begin to improve and strengthen., Don't let anyone try and tell you otherwise, and read this:

    Plenty of people will tell you, 'I went to a chiropractor and I felt much better' when what they really mean is 'I had a headache, and it mysteriously vanished within a few hours of visiting the chiropractor, therefore the chiropractor is responsible for curing the headache'. Placebo thinking at its finest.

    Also, DO NOT let anyone try and talk you into spinal surgery. As the McKenzie book points out (as I vaguely recall, not having the book directly to hand), this is not only unnecessary, but can actually make your back much, much worse. The McKenzie book will also explain to you *why* your back is so bad.

  13. "I had such a bad back – same thing as you – I wound up being unable to work for several months or even leave my house. Couldn't stand, walk or anything. Being a writer, I could still work, so I was lucky."

    … work the *day job*, I meant, in that first sentence.

  14. The inversion table sounds like a medieval torture device.
    Inquisition Member 1: He won't talk sire!
    Inquisition Member 2: Put him on the ( dramatic pause here with air quotes) 'inversion table'
    (Audience Gasps)
    Torturee: No, No, not that. (put on table and process begins) Oh Yes Yes Stretch me some more.

    Could also do a Fox reality show on the subject.

  15. Given the popularity of the term "Spine Weevils", Joel, it seems you can A) turn it into a T-shirt (American Institute for Spine Weevil Research, or something), B) use it as a term for non-Fancy Bastards, or maybe people who get booted from the forum or the chat, or C) both A and B.

    Also, it's only a matter of time until we see a tweet from Warren Ellis that says something like: "Good morning, you vicious fucking spine weevils."

  16. Maybe a medical doctor could help. Since, you know, they like go to college and stuff.

    chiropractor = guy who cracks your back = not a real doctor
    chiropractic = expensive placebo = not real healthcare

  17. Try a physiotherapist they should be able to sort it out, I had a bulged disk and it hurt like hell (Writing on the floor in pain) What worked for me in the end was
    Lie on stomach on the floor.
    Do a very slow push-up but keep your hips on the floor so that you are arching your back
    hold for 10 seconds and the slowly release
    If it starts to hurt hold there and lower you will be able to go further each time. Do 4 times a day and then whenever you start to feel your back hurt or just feel weird.
    This only works if the disk has bulged out.

  18. I cannot believe you don´t get paid a MRI… what kind of health care system is that??? o_0

    @comments: I wouldnt be so harsh on chiropractors (well, except u´r first c, which obviously was a real **** cut-throat). I also keep having back pain, but mostly on low levl, and usually I don´t even notice any more. But once I visited an orthopedist and chiropractor, he talked my into a chiropractic treatment (even though I was actually more concerned that he might screw up my spine, since I also had heard bad stories) and did sth sounding very creepy with my spine, but after that I could discover how great actually u feel with absolutely cero back pain… unfortunately, it didn´t last very long, since there is usually a "good" reason for all that mess, which means that most likely the torso muscles and sinews are in a bad shape… and the best way to deal with poor muscles/sinews is gymnastics and exercises (which might also, but not necessarily, include weight lifting) – on a daily basis.

    Maybe – hopefully u can find some helpful exercises for your kind of diagnosis, preferably from an orthopedist, physiotherapist or any other expert… hey, at least some of u´r readers should have some genuine & real expertise on that, right? I´ll keep my fingers crossed, and get well soon!!!

  19. Am I really the one that needs to wrestle the pink elephant in the room to the ground by wrenching it's lisping tusks around to drop it on it's back?


    Ever share a room with someone who might do trauma to your coccyx?

    Wake-up with the taint of sweet, rotten cabbage in your nose?

    I'd point a finger, but haven't clipped my nails.

  20. Just FYI, I thought I just had a bad back for years and it ended up being kidney problems, so if the way you're being treated just absolutely does nothing (or you have pain on your sides above your hips/ groin area) then you might want to see a regular doctor and suggest the kidney issue.

  21. OK, this is probably a stupid suggestion, but if the problem is in your lower back, why hang upside-down? Wouldn't hanging by the shoulders/upper body do basically the same thing – stretch the spine and releave the pressure?

    The simplest way would probably be to rig up a harness on the inversion table and use it backwards.

  22. It makes you wonder how they might cure spine weevils. Perhaps treating the back with some spine weevil predator for the organically minded, or maybe strapping on a decoy spine to the back.

      • A thousand sympathies fellow. You may wish to consider being stabbed in the back, that is to say, acupuncture. A friend of mine tried it for his chronic back pain (result of a frozen shoulder I believe), all though their efficaciousness in the area of Vertibraphids may be somewhat limited, I have no doubt that your spine weevils will not present a problem. It really does work, and I'm fairly critical about such things.

  23. Oh, my god. go get an MRI!!!!!!! This is basic human rights. Go to a hospital and demand to be taken care of. Go to a lawyer if you must. Incredible.

  24. Actually, a good doctor will not do an MRI right away. The reason is that the initial treatment for low back pain is the same regardless of if it's a disc or a joint problem. If you've been doing research on the cost of healthcare, you'll see that unnecessary testing (such as MRIs for the initial onset of low back pain) are one of the major factors.

    As for chiropractors…there are good and bad ones. The use of chiropractic care is well supported by research (google pubmed and search "low back pain treatment chiropractic" for good reviews of the current evidence). As a chiropractor I strongly encourage concurrent care with both chiropractic treatment AND physiotherapy to strengthen the core muscles (a position supported by the research). I don't know where you are geographically, but finding who is familiar with and employs the work of Stuart McGill would be a great first start.

  25. I have fibromyalgia and I am totally stealing "Like it's being fucked by demons with cocks made of fire" to use as a description for my back pain. =p

    • Im sorry to hear about your condition but if that particular phrasing helps a doc to better understand what you are going through then more power to you.

  26. Quite some time has passed already. I'd go for that possibility of having a bad back/disc problem. It's not really a major thing unless you have weight problems. Now that can worsen a back problem. Better engage in activities that don't put too much strain on your back and try to find professionals who are concerned with people than money to consult your condition with.

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