Not too long ago I developed a condition known as “I’m old.” True, I’m only 35, but I can no longer sprawl out in a chair or bed any old way I want to without serious consequences, namely my back twisting up into such a pretzel shape that I could sprinkle salt on myself and sell me at the State Fair.
A couple of weeks ago Pretzel Back struck yet again, and this time it was angry. I had a knot that refused to play nice with the rest of my body, and all of the Ibuprofen in the world wasn’t touching it. (My wife also wasn’t touching it, because she has “petite hands.” I don’t even know what that means, except that back rubs in our marriage tend to be one-sided. She gets regular back rubs; I’ve had a grand total of eight minutes of back rubs in sixteen years of marriage. Not that I’m bitter.)
Anyway, I decided that I needed to go high tech and buy some of those adhesive heating pads that are advertised on TV for people whose backs are apparently not only sore, but radioactive, because there’s always a creepy reddish glow on them until they apply the heating pads.
Step number one was applying the pad, which is a big flat piece of cottony rectangular material and looks like a really big…um…Band Aid. Applying the pad is incredibly easy to do if (a) you have eyes in the back of your head, (b) you’re double jointed, and (c) you don’t have a catch in your back, which would probably mean you wouldn’t be buying the stupid thing in the first place. So I enlisted the help of Petite Hands, who was very helpful by holding the pad two inches away from my back and initiating the following conversation:
Her: “Is this where you want it?”
Me: “I can’t see it. You’re holding it behind me.”
Her: “Well turn around and look.”
Me: “If I turn around and look, it’s no longer behind me.”
Her: “But just tell me if I’m close.”
Me: “I don’t KNOW if you’re close.”
Her: “Well what about now?”
Me: “What part of ‘I CANNOT SEE THAT’ do you not understand?!?
(It was not my finest moment.)
Finally she attached the two adhesive pieces to my back. The adhesive pieces make up approximately .0046% of the surface area of the pad, which is the exact design feature I’d include if I wanted to have half the heating pad snap off my skin and flop in the breeze any time I made a sudden jerky movement, such as breathing.
The idea was that I would sleep with the pad affixed to my back. The package had all sorts of warnings about this, such as:
WARNING! If you are an older person with thin skin or you have a sensitivity to heat, or if you have ever had parents, DO NOT LEAVE THIS PRODUCT ON for the love of all that’s good and holy or you will wake up to find yourself in the middle of the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where all the Nazi’s faces are melting off. WE ARE SERIOUS. You might as well strap a Pop Tart to your shoulder because at least then you’ll have a hot breakfast waiting on you when you come out of the ICU, you crispy-critter wanna be. You will have THIRD DEGREE BURNS that are bigger than your body! You will smell like BACON. You… (it went on from there)
I decided to take my chances and go to sleep, expecting to wake up the next morning with a loose back and some ready-made toaster pastry goodness. Imagine my surprise when the postage stamp-sized adhesive pads started slipping off roughly four minutes into my slumber. By morning, the pad had worked its way from my back to my neck to behind my knees to across my face to around my chin and it might have even taken a walk to the neighbor’s house…I can’t be sure.
I suppose the final thing to mention is that the heating pad never actually…what’s a delicate way to put this?…it never actually HEATED.
The only way I could have had a colder object on my back would have been to find an iguana in the middle of December in Grand Forks, North Dakota, who happened to be sipping a liquid nitrogen milkshake. At least then the iguana’s scales might have worked out the rough spots.