... the Lillehammer Olympics were on, and at any given moment you could find me watching from my accustomed spot on the floor, for that is where I spent the best part of six weeks.
My troubles had begun one Sunday after I had gone to the gym. I hadn't done anything terribly strenuous that day but had spent quite a bit of time on the Stairmaster. On the way home, my back felt uncomfortable, but I thought little of it as I had experienced spasms and twinges from time to time for several years. It was the same on Monday morning, but off I went to my teaching job with my fellow car poolers, and I became more and more uncomfortable as we drove past the flat fields of rural Lambton County.
Soon after I started walking around the school, my back became even worse, and I realized that I wasn't going to make it. Fortunately, the first period of the day was my spare, so I had time to prepare some materials and drag myself around the school to photocopy some handouts for the supply teacher. I call ed Cuppa to come and get me after informing the vice principal that I had to go home. "I'll see you in three days," I said, because my history with muscle spasms and had informed me that I should be ambulatory in that time frame.
Except it wasn't muscle spasms this time around but a bulging L4-L5 disc. For weeks, I was unable to sit or stand for more than a few minutes without terrible leg pain, for that's where the pain was always worst. I could barely get through a shower before I was forced to throw myself on the floor in search of relief. Thankfully, I could be fairly comfortable when I was prone, preferably on my stomach.
And that's how I saw the Liilehammer Olympics: from the floor of our family room. From that position, I saw Nancy Kerrigan win the silver medal in figure skating, after having been assaulted by Tonia Harding's wrecking crew sometime earlier. Our Elvis Stojko also won the silver in the men's figure skating competition although I truly believe that, by rights, he should have been awarded the gold. I felt badly for poor Kurt Browning, in my opinion the best skater ever, as he fell out of the medals. I learned how awesome the Norweigians were at ski jumping and cross country skiing and how seriously that nation took those sports. During one long and particularly bad night when I knew that sleep would elude me, I watched endless hours of bobsleighing, all the while wishing for something more rivetting to take my cares away.
I say that I was on the floor for six weeks, but I think it was eight weeks before I actually got back to work. In the sixteen subsequent years, I have experienced constant numbness in my left leg and foot, but I have never had a total repeat of that back incident. However, I remain constantly aware of how fragile my back is, and I have to be very careful how I sit and move. Fortunately, despite some limitations, such as giving up tennis, I have been surprised to be able to carry on a normal life, for I thought that I would have experienced another major incident or two by now. In the back of my mind, I still rather expect worse to come to worst someday, but I also remain hopeful.
And that is how and why I remember one past Olympic event.