Everything Is Killing You: When a Broken Back Is Good News

Everything Is Killing You” is an ongoing series about my weirdo health problems and things I think you should be worried about.

A week or so ago, I finally got an answer to the question that had been plaguing me the past couple months. (The question, in case you forgot, was “What the eff is going on with my back?”)

“It says here that — at some point in your childhood — you broke your fifth lumbar vertebra,” my rheumatologist said. The rheumatologist was a recent addition to the team. She had cute boots that I’d like to get, if my back ever cooperates again.

My mouth literally hung open.


She shrugged. “It’s hard to say.”

“It doesn’t have, like, rings or something?”

She smiled. “That’s a tree.”

I also have some arthritis in the fourth and fifth vertebrae, and, as the radiologist described it, an exuberant growth of bone. Plus, bursitis, which may or may not be related to the injury, but was definitely worthy of getting a giant shot of cortisone in the left-hand keister. But no ankylosing spondylitis, and no new horrible diseases.

“I don’t think it’s even related to the Behcet’s disease,” she said, tapping the screen thoughtfully. “At this point, if you’ve had a mild case for this long, it’s likely that you’ll avoid real complications.”

I burst into tears of relief, which seemed to surprise her, although I’d think any specialist that deals in potentially crippling diseases would be used to tears. If I were her, I’d dispense with the tissues and just put buckets everywhere, like spittoons in an old west saloon.

I made Adam come with me from the shot, which didn’t hurt much going in, but ached like a bastard for a week afterward. I didn’t care. I’ve never been happier to be in pain in my life. All I could think was that I’d escaped.

Every time I think I have a horrible disease and it turns out to be something else, I feel like I’ve won. A psychologist would have a field day with that — and many have. I guess the upside is that it gives me a pretty positive attitude about mechanical difficulties in the old bod. I still have to have a few weeks of physical therapy, but I’m happy to do it.

Image: Knitted Skeleton by Ben Cuevas

Published by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt

I'm a freelance writer and editor.

3 thoughts on “Everything Is Killing You: When a Broken Back Is Good News

  1. Congratulations on not having Ankylosing Spondylitis! AS is a misery. Mind you, unspecific back pain is also a misery. I wish you good health and happiness…..and lots of peace of mind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: