Apr 20, 2022

Oh-My-Aching Back To The Future: A Personal Diary

Another amazing adventure of Advil

By Ed Goldman

I used to believe that my back went out more often than I did.

The only times I remember its going out are when it goes out again. There’s apparently a precedent for this: I’ve been told that women who give birth under even prolonged or painful circumstances forget the ordeal as soon as they hold their new baby. Then they think about having another, and maybe even come up with names for him or her.

Edgy Cartoon

First, Do No Smarm

This analogy doesn’t quite do it for me—and may even qualify as what logicians call a “false equivalency” and what the rest of us call a “dumb comparison.” For example, once my back heals, I never look forward to a recurrence of the pain. And while I most certainly reel out some names when in the throes of a spasm, they mainly tend to the Biblical. (And no, I don’t know what the “H” in “Jesus H. Christ!” stands for. Nor do I believe that excrement is ever holy, despite my screaming to the contrary.)

A doctor friend once told me I had “degenerative disc disease.” I was about to call the Mayo Clinic when he clarified, “It just means you have a bad back.” So—and you probably saw this coming—I held the Mayo.

What I hate about back pain is that it makes me unintentionally masochistic. I start dropping things—pencils, keys, eyeglasses and martini glasses—simply because it’s now the worst possible time to bend over and pick them up. I rarely get the dropsies when it wouldn’t bother me to. 

This may be part of my feeling that, unlike everyone from Friedrich Nietzsche to Woody Allen, I neither believe that God is dead nor that we live in an indifferent universe. 

I believe we live in an ironic one. This is why: 

  • We get flat tires and simultaneously realize we forgot our AAA cards when we’re wearing white suits;
  • We get genuine nor’easters in our backyards just as we go to light the charcoals for a barbecue to which we’ve invited seven couples;
  • We get dandruff, hay fever or shingles on our way to first dates;
  • We come through a much-dreaded medical exam with flying colors and are just starting to think we may, in fact, be immortal. But when we arrive back home, we feel lightheaded, start sneezing and wonder if we contracted COVID somewhere between the garage and back door—whereas, what we actually encountered was Sacramento, the allergy capital of the known galaxy, in full pollinated bloom.

Amazon Daily Deals

Search the hundreds of daily deals.

Limited-time deals.  Change hourly.

Start Shopping.

Like those of you who’ve suffered from chronic or just occasional back pain—and statistics suggest this may be most of you—I’ve been privy to enough advice and alleged cures to fill several bogus how-to books or one episode of Dr. Oz. The competing panaceas are ice-and-heat in rotation, unlike sweet-and-sour barbecue sauce, whose conflicting components you get all at once. I’ve applied this to a variety of sports injuries—in my case, caused less from running marathons than from carrying in multiple rolls of toilet tissue (listen, two-ply adds a few ounces to every delivery).

Ice and heat work fine if you start applying them as soon as possible after you incur your injury. But a bad back tends to engulf you over a period of days, so that by the time you realize your posture can cause you to be mistaken for a question mark, it’s too late for quick healing. Instead, proven combo cures such as my preferred approach, AST (Advil-and-Smirnoff Therapy) may be all that can touch the problem—and that if it doesn’t, you really don’t care.

And that pretty much sums up my self-medical approach: mind over matter. Which is to say, when my back goes out, I really don’t mind so it doesn’t much matter.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President, Golden Pacific Bank, a Division of SoFi Bank, Inc.

photo by Phoebe Verkouw


With Earth Day 2022 just two days away, I’m reminded of a wonderful quote from His Holiness Dalai Lama:

“It is our collective and individual responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members and to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live.”       

He may as well have been talking about climate change—which is killing us. Literally.  We each have a personal responsibility to act now. The whole universe, even the smallest of us, is profoundly connected. 

Let’s face the stark truth: The crisis of climate change plunges those who are the most vulnerable into an even deeper pit of vulnerability. 

And just as we’re all connected as human beings, the poor and abandoned are connected to those who strive for gain—at the expense of the poor and the earth. 

As successful people, we have a deep obligation and responsibility to take care of our brothers and sisters. All deserve food and water and a way of living. For corporations, the time to act is now.  Let ESG (environmental, social, and governance) issues dominate our Board rooms and our collective thought process.  

I am in awe of all living things as I suspect you are, too. We need to change our habits and work and make real changes for our common good. Ecological conversion is more relevant and urgent than ever.

Every little thing you do, every choice you make, please do so with introspection on how it affects our planet and our neighbors.  Reinvigorate the conversations about what is real wealth. 

The crisis of climate change is real today. And as one of my favorite (though anonymous) quotes has it, “My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” Let’s all connect to ensure there’ll be a “there” there when we arrive. And Happy Earth Day! 

sponsored content