Tours Travel

That bad old back

Long ago, in 1972, I took a year out of my new plastering business for fun working for the then Berkshire County Council on a road gang with my older brother, who promised good profits in exchange for hard work and maximum bonuses. The £ £ £ call was louder than my call to build a serious small business back then.

The work was tough but it was a lot of fun and a good body builder as I was laying four foot by eighteen inch concrete pipes, laying kirb, asphalt, digging trenches by hand, all good character building material and a ton of jokes to have all day.

At one job we were straightening Hollow Lane in Shinfield, Berks and I were appointed head of mounting layer (granite blocks laid at a 60% angle like a kirb). The weather was “cool”, let’s say, but since I loved hard work, I only wore a T-shirt to avoid feeling too hot and upset. Of course the old men kept telling me “It will give you a chill down your back then you will regret it”, but like all 20s, I was not willing to pay attention to it at all … OOPS!

I came home one night, I sat on the chair while my wife made dinner, I went to get up, but I couldn’t, I beg the lady to take me by the hand to get me up from the chair and she stayed there. Laughing hysterically, he thought he was joking and it took me a bit to convince myself he wasn’t.

There the story begins. A week off from work without pay, and a slow and steady return to form when I got back to work fairly smoothly. Another month or so and I quit the council and went back to casting as it seemed like the most “sensible” option, and for a few years, it was.

I started doing more and more work on the site and things were going very well for me, both physically and financially. I hired additional plasterers and laborers and really started plowing the job like it was going out of style, and THEN! – Yes, they hit me again with the old threat. – My back hurts.

I went to the doctors and she told me that I really needed to rest, but she gave me some ‘wonderful capsules’ called Rhumox. It was absolutely amazing! It gave me the feeling that my back was made of ‘gum sip’ and the pain dissolved, leaving me able to go back to work at full speed. I was taking these capsules for a couple of months when my prescription was suddenly stopped and my doctor said it had been withdrawn due to neurological consequences.

Now luckily after I stopped taking them my back felt good so I was probably taking them out of habit rather than necessity because they made my back feel very comfortable. Anyway, it was ‘going on as normal’ – eliminating as much work as possible in one day, every day, as the work was gathering momentum and ‘had to’ be done.

In the mid-eighties, I had to take breaks from work because old back pain was raising its ugly head. Each time it seemed to be worse than the previous episode until I had to slow down my work rate and just do ‘private’ work – extensions, renovations, etc., that I could roll back from for a few days without causing ‘too much’ annoyance for everyone. interested.

In December 1987, even though I got really strong HIT, I thought I had had a stroke, even a brain tumor or something. I was working on a renovation at Shiplake House, Shiplake, Oxon when my back didn’t hurt as such, but I lost all my coordination and was partially paralyzed on one side of my head and torso. I got to the doctor who immediately contacted a neuroconsult who asked me to do some intrusive tests, lumbar puncture, brain scan, full body scan, blood work, etc. It is not a happy time.

In February 1988 I heard the results: I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the consultant said that the full body scan showed irreparable damage to the lower spine and that he thought the nerve damage had started there. I was shocked and out of work for a while, but went back to work carefully as we couldn’t live off the paltry benefits of the day. Interest rates had skyrocketed to 18% on our mortgage and if I was self-employed I was getting next to nothing. I’m not complaining here, I’m just saying WHY I needed to get back to work.

At the end of 1988, I went back to working very smoothly at first, but seemed to have some kind of remission and was soon pushing the limits to make as much money as I could. It was a no-win situation because the more money I made, the more time I had to keep being absent from work due to back spasm caused by MS. At one point I was away for a couple of months, hospitalized for five days, as my back went into a ‘super-spasm’ – I really thought I was dying, the pain actually made me SCREAM! and ‘never’ had screamed before in my life.

After leaving the hospital and going back to a softer job, I worked a week, had a few days of work, worked a few days, had other days off, and so it continued until April 9, 2007 (Yes! That date) when the old MS hit me like a bolt out of nowhere. I was confined to my house for a few months, and then I was genuinely disabled for several years. In 2019 I started to get more mobile and even thought about going back to doing very small plastering jobs to earn a little more than my measly pension. THEN I went to pick up a piece of wood, not heavy, just out of my reach, and BAM! That old back pain showed me that he wasn’t done with me YET …

The moral of the story? … No matter how old or young you are, please watch your back as it will stay with you for life once you damage it.

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