"You are completely ridiculous right now, you know," the Muse said. She popped a green grape into her mouth.
"Sure," I said. "Just make fun of the crippled boy. That's bound to get you into heaven."
The story I would like to tell about how I got into my current situation--unable to move without excruciating agony running up my spine, currently twisted into a recreation of John Merrick's curled and Escheresque posture--is that I injured myself lifting a mail delivery truck from off a pinned toddler, and for my trouble received the key to the city and a lifetime subscription to Men's Health magazine. The truth is far less glamorous and movie of the week. I had been getting into my car in order to make the drive to work, and I'd bent funny, folded myself into a geometric angle that Pythagorus had never dreamed of, and down I went, landing on my knees beside the car.
Back trouble, for those of you who have never suffered from it, is one of God's most wonderful and cruel curses upon mortal man. You don't realize just how many activities your back plays a part in until you find that you are unable to do simply anything without having stainless steel knitting needles driven into your spine. Obviously, walking is out of the question, as is anything involving lifting, or bending, or sitting, or really even laying down. Sneezing is out of the question, as is coughing, breathing or really anything involving the lungs in any way. And let's don't even get into a discussion of what a Herculean task using the bathroom becomes. You can't really pee standing up, because you can't bend down to raise the toilet seat, but neither can you sit, because sitting when your back is thrown out just leads to a slow and wretched slide off the toilet and onto the bathroom floor, where you are likely to lay in a puddle of both your own misery and your own urine until someone kind and brave enough comes along and helps you clean up and stand up.
"You could use a pee jar," the Muse suggested. "I could cut the top off a soda bottle, and you could use that."
"I'm not ready to make that step yet," I said. "If I reach a point where it's either piss in a bottle or piss on the sofa, then we'll negotiate my terms of surrender. Until then, I'm going to keep crawling my way to the bathroom."
She tossed back another grape, and eyed me from the sofa. I was trapped on the chaise, nearly literally, because worming my way down between the arms of the chaise to get to an angle where I could slip off onto all fours on the floor wasn't the easiest of tasks. The sofa, of course, would have been a better choice for me, except that it wasn't a full sofa, but rather a love seat, and it was impossible for someone my height to lay flat on it in any comfort on a good back day, which this certainly was not.
"At least you've got pills," she said. "Last time, you waited a week before you went for anything. I keep telling you, darling, better living through chemistry."
"Vicodin is my queen bitch now," I said. "I'm going to have a monkey on my back before this is finished."
She shook her head. "Not on your back, at least not yet. That would only worsen your situation."
"Hmm. Good point there."
"I excel at good points," she said. She ate another grape.
"You know, you could give me some of those grapes." The medication had given me severe cotton mouth, and her grapes looked so very juicy to me.
"If I did, you'd just have to go to the bathroom sooner than later."
"If you don't," I said, "there's a very strong possibility that I'll die from dehydration over here."
"Not likely. You're like a camel. Truly a biological freak. You should be in a sideshow."
"Give me some fucking grapes, Muse."
She smiled. "Come get them," she said, and put another into her mouth.
I stared at her. "You're sort of an evil chick sometimes, you know?"
She nodded. "Maybe you won't wait for seven months before showing an interest in writing about me again. Consider this a lesson to be learned."
I scowled. "I do hate you, you know."
She nodded again. "Oh yes, this I know. Now shut up and watch me eat this entire bowl of grapes by myself. Think about what you did."
"When I can walk again, Muse?"
She cackled a Shakespearian witch's cackle, and continued on with her demolition of the grapes.