Ah, Yes, Grasshopper: History Repeats Itself

Well, if you're wondering what I've been doing, it's simple – my back is back. Ten years ago, when I was three years into a rocket ship new company, my back blew out in a huge way, and it took me months to get back. I was never the…


Well, if you’re wondering what I’ve been doing, it’s simple – my back is back. Ten years ago, when I was three years into a rocket ship new company, my back blew out in a huge way, and it took me months to get back. I was never the same again (goodbye, contact sports), but I did find yoga as a religion of sorts, and learned all sorts of things about what was important in life. Three years ago, I blew out another part of my back – C3-5, for those keeping score (goodbye, extreme skiing), but that setback was, in a way, a chance to learn even more.

Fast forward to now. Three years into another rocket ship (FM), my original back injury – L5 S1 blown disc, for those of you still keeping score – has returned with a bit of vengeance (see the MRI at left for those who are morbidly interested). I’m not exactly crippled, as I was last time, but it’s serious enough that I have to curtail any kind of work that is not entirely essential – at least for a while.

This time, it’s a bit more personal. I feel much more centered in my work, and I’ve been good to myself, so this setback gives me pause. Have I been holding too much on my own shoulders and not letting my team do more? Is it just part of getting old? Should I have taken the surgery route back in 1999? Just a few months ago, I was chopping cords of wood. Why is my back complaining now?

Well, it doesn’t matter. Every time your body throws you a mess of pain, it’s a time to reflect. Especially when it comes to your back, which I truly believe is the rosetta stone of the mind. Stop, breathe, be patient. It never, ever, hurts to do that. But as you might expect, my writing here might suffer a bit.

13 thoughts on “Ah, Yes, Grasshopper: History Repeats Itself”

  1. John, I know you form your blog posts and “Search.” The news saddened me. I wish you fastest recovery. Please take good care of yourself — we need your perspective on things!

  2. Hey John,
    Been there. Done that. Opted for surgery years ago. However, that is only a part of the answer. The rest is how well you treat your body. Especially in the nutrition department. After all, that’s the building blocks for the body. Hope you will seriously take a look at the subject. It can save you a lot of pain!

    BTW, you are with me every day – uh, your desk is. I downloaded your beautiful desk picture and use it as my background. Nice view, huh!

    Hope you get better soon. And keep writing. We all need you.


  3. Just go easy and take care of yourself first and foremost.

    Your writing could suffer a 50% hit and still be 200% better than most others out there.

    I’m saying a focused prayer for the healing of your L5 S1.

  4. nothing worse than back pain like that…do what you can to repair it this winter and spring and keep summer back country hikes as your goal! Oh, and I’m thinking you need to get a Segway for Web 2.

    take care!

  5. The name ‘Grasshoppers’ was chosen, as among the founders were several old boys of Cheltenham College. This school had a game ‘Fireflies v. Grasshoppers’ which is believed to continue to this day.Once the RFU was formed in 1871 Grasshoppers’ adopted the official rules of the game, although they only applied to join the organisation in 1875. The Rugby Union Annual records of the time show that we were members in 1876 until 1886, more of this later.
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  6. Hi – wish you all the best and a fast recovery – my MRI looks about the same as yours. Found way that worked for me to keep the pain away, send me a note if you are interested.

  7. I’m really glad you found yoga, it helps so many people. Bear Grylls broke his back and turned to yoga, now he practises daily. I do too.

    I’ve had wrist injuries and recently shins splints since may (goodbye running, mountain biking, hiking), but thankfully yoga practice is always there, you can always adapt it to your body.

    Actually there’s a whole blog devoted to yoga for back pain.


    Also don’t forget Mukunda Stiles, the famous yoga therapist, he also has a forum where you can ask him questions


    I hope it all feels better soon and you do activities you enjoy 🙂

  8. Do you get enough real exercise?

    Think of the lifestyles most Americans live – that are full of conveniences and time savers.

    Engaging in proactive exercising may go a long way in preventive disruptions to ones health.

    You are more fortunate than most over 40 Americans in that you are NOT overweight, so you have alot more potential to master any exercise routine you chose

  9. Hey John,

    Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery. I have just read the book and wanted to say how great I thought it was.

    My other reason for commenting was to see if you had tried accupuncture? I have exactly the same issue, LS S1 herniated on both sides, and the disc above it herniated on one side. I had a crippling attack of back pain after my honeymoon in January (no cheeky comments please!) and went to see an accupuncturist in Cheltenham, England. Not only did he happen to be the ex-actor who once played Oliver Twist in the 60’s classic Oliver! but his treatment really helped. I went from not being able to move to flying back to Mexico where I leave within a week (10 hours flight) without problems.

    It’s worth trying unless you are terrified of needles. I would like to ask however what advice you have for taking care of your back and what you were doing before your setback.

    Get well soon man,

    Simon, Mexico City

  10. I, too, have gone through that type of pain (torn L5-S1) and lived with it and kept working for many years. Now I am coming out of it thanks to finally taking disability leave! Got to let the work go sometimes, I guess…

    The thing that has helped me the most is Egoscue. Check out a book called “Pain Free” by Pete Egoscue. As a previous poster pointed out, our lifestyles don’t move our bodies much, and not with enough variety even if we are moving (everything is between our shoulders and our waist, and right in front of us).

    The Egoscue principle is that lots of little muscles check out and stop doing their jobs as a result of lack of motion, and then the big, wrong muscles try and take over their responsibilities when you do finally move, pulling your skeletal system even further out of whack.

    When you isolate specific muscles with very mild exercises, they re-engage and start doing their job again. My posture changed, my pain dissipated, and I feel like it’s a whole new life!

    I don’t work for them, but I’m one of a long line of testimonials. Check it out, and good luck whatever you do!


    And good luck!

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