I walked into Grubbs Hall at 2pm on the Friday of the week after finals and I smelled a cheese burger. I could tell that it was a Braum’s cheeseburger. I can’t explain how I could know that. I can’t say that I’ve confirmed it. But I know.

There was a Braum’s cheeseburger somewhere in the four stories of that building.

I am on a diet. I had eaten one modest ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. I don’t mean a Mall Deli ham and cheese sandwich that would feed the Paraguayan Army for a week; I mean two pieces of shaved ham and one piece of cheese on between two pieces of off the shelf sliced whitebread.

I am trying to lose weight because of my back. I have a pinched nerve due to stenosis in my spine. Looking at that sentence, I see than I am learning to speak medical techno-babble, but I have also discovered that I am not unusual in that.

After a certain age, you learn that you can start a conversation among your peers at any time by bringing up your health problems. The other day I told my table at Rotary about my pinched nerve.

“Where is it?” I was asked.

“Down around L5 and S1,” I answered, feeling pretty smart because of knowing that.

“Oh, yeah,” came a knowing answer. “I had some problems up around C4 and C5 a few years ago. They put in some screws and fixed it right up.” There was then a joke about having the doctor verify that he didn’t have a screw loose.

I went to my office and looked it up. Those are real vertebrae. Hmm.

I’ve had pain in my sciatic nerve for years. For those of you who are lucky enough not to know, the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body. It runs from where the lumbar spine meets the sacrum down the length of the leg.

To think of it as a single nerve is actually misleading. There are several nerves that branch off of your spinal cord and are bundled together for a while before they branch out again. Mine is being irritated by brushing against some protrusions from my spine where it comes out from my spinal cord.

I’ve been told there are two kinds of surgery on the back. The easy kind that is done around nerves branching off the spinal cord and the hard kind done on bones around the spinal cord itself.

I understand that, but I divide it somewhat differently: The easy kind of surgery is that which is done on someone else, and the hard kind that is one on you.

I had a period of relief in my sciatica a short while ago when my weight was ten pounds lighter than it is now. I’d lost forty pounds from my previous high and I felt better. I felt so much better that I celebrated and put ten pounds back on.

With that ten pounds, the pain returned. Ergo, if I lose ten pounds the pain should go away again.

Sounds good, right?

A philosopher would say that this is the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” logical fallacy. The statistician would say that correlation is not the same as causation. My surgeon said, “Give me a call when you want to get it fixed.”

I am now at a point where I can’t walk a whole mile without either sitting on a bench or leaning against a telephone pole for relief. I’ve made a deal with myself, that if I’ve not managed to control this myself by losing weight by the middle of May I will yield to the surgeon’s knife.

Before that, however, I will be able to recognize every cheeseburger in town from a mile away by its smell.

— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.