My back starting acting up about the same time my car did. They were both old and worn out.
Thankfully, my doctor found no serious problems with my muscles or spine. “You’re no spring chicken, you know,” she said. “The older we get, the more our backs tend to hurt. Back pain is the second most common neurological problem in the country, right behind headaches. The best advice I can give you is to keep moving. Take an anti-inflammatory when you’re really uncomfortable. And direct heat helps.”
My mechanic’s advice was a lot more blunt. “Sell that heap of junk,” he said, “before you have to pay to have it hauled away.” So I did. And I bought a low-mileage used car without a lot of bells and whistles. No satellite radio. No navigation system. No moon roof. But there was one luxury I insisted upon — heated front seats. I flipped the driver’s seat switch to high as I pulled out of the dealership parking lot. Within seconds, the backs of my leg grew warm. So did my tush. Best of all was the heat that radiated across my lower back.
I stopped for groceries on the way home and, not wanting any dents or dings on my new set of wheels, parked at the far end of the parking lot. A brisk walk into the store, a brisk cruise through the milk and bread aisles, a brisk walk back across the parking lot and I was done.
Without a twinge of back pain.
I used the seat heat when I drove my daughter to piano lessons that afternoon. But instead of sitting in the car thumbing through a magazine like I usually did during the half-hour wait, I strolled around the block. My back didn’t bother me at all.
In the weeks that followed the purchase of my car, I fell into a routine. A few minutes of radiating heat any time I needed to drive somewhere, followed by a few minutes of walking. I found myself taking less and less pain medicine. My walks grew longer and brisker. As a chilly spring became a not-so-chilly summer, I wondered whether the heated car seat would be too uncomfortable. No worries. I simply used the “low” setting on the seat warmer and bumped the air conditioning up a notch.
And I kept on walking.
Is my back pain gone for good? No. Every now and then, I feel that familiar pang that reminds me that I’m no spring chicken. But I know what to do about it. I take a quick drive. Then I take a long walk.
And I remain forever grateful that I was able to find a good used car with no bells and whistles. Except for the very one my poor, aching old back needed.