When I first came to Dickinson in 2011, I was looking for a very high paying job in the oil field that would allow me to quickly build up money in savings, pay down my credit cards, pay my biggest recurring bills like property tax and homeowners insurance, and return to my home in Idaho by Christmas. It didn’t really work out that way.
I did return home to Idaho just before Christmas, but with less money in the bank than when I arrived in Dickinson in May, and with a very injured back. Working for a construction company in Dickinson, I had repeatedly lifted things that were too heavy for one person, and I kept doing it day after day, while my back got worse and worse. This was the first time that my back did not recover, and I had not known that it wouldn’t.
By December I could hardly stand and walk. I quit my job and returned to Idaho. The first chiropractor that I went to in Idaho was young and he did not know what he was doing. After about five or six chiropractor visits, he could not even diagnose what was wrong with my back. If I had had health insurance, I would have probably been assessed by doctors as needing back surgery and hip replacement. Thank God I didn’t have health insurance.
The second chiropractor that I went to was the oldest in town, and he immediately knew what was wrong with my back, it was called “antalgia”, which means “leaning to one side”. If you have an injured area on a vertebrae or disk, you will lean away from the injured area to prevent the intense pain or nerve pinching. After about six, one hour chiropractor visits, my back was much better.
Over the following year, at first I could only walk about one block with a lot of pain and effort. I kept trying to walk further and further each day. Within a few months I could walk 1/2 a mile. I did back and stomach exercises every day.
What had been the cause of my problems, was that my arms, shoulders, chest, and legs were very strong from going to the gym for many years, which allowed me to lift and carry very heavy things all day long at work, but my back muscles and my stomach muscles were not nearly as strong, this was my weak point in my body, and my back became inured.
It took me over one year to recover to 90%. In early 2013, I was talking to a woman who had broken her back, and she told me that what had helped her to recover was the supplement glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine with chondroitin. She told me that if I took this supplement, I would notice a difference in one week. I did, I did notice a difference in one week. Taking this particular supplement during the following several months helped me to recover to 100%.
In the Spring of 2013, I returned to Dickinson, and I got a job as a foreman for an underground utility construction company. This job required a lot of physical labor and digging for about 10 hours each day, Monday through Friday. I did this job, and I did not have any back problems, to my surprise.
During the past four years in Dickinson, I have had several other jobs, some of them I have written about on this blog website. Some of these jobs have paid well, for a while. A couple of weeks ago, I was offered an oil field/construction job in Dickinson, working 12 hours per day, every day. I don’t mean 12 hours per day, every day, for one week or two weeks, I mean every day, with no days off.
This job that I was offered that involved working every day for 12 hours per day, paid $2,000 per week, every week, so I took it. As I was told, and as it turned out to be, it was hard physical labor from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We worked in the rain and snow last week, (Yes, it snowed for quite a while through the morning one day last week), and then we were soaking wet and cold for the next 8 hours of work.
This is about as hard physical labor as I have done in my life, it doesn’t get much harder than this in construction. Most of the crew workers are twenty years younger than me. Anyone who slacks off, it is noticed immediately, and complained about immediately. Unless you want to be let go soon, you don’t stop working, sit down, or take a break.
Everyone tries to keep up and keep going, but some can’t on some days. Two of the new hire workers who are in their late twenties, who are experienced oil field/construction workers, complained to the foreman about two of the older workers who were not working as fast, who were tired out. Yes, the two older workers were tired out after 8 hours, but they have been working for this company for several years, and they do make it through the whole 12 hour work day, and come back the next day. Soon, one of the complaining twenty-year-olds was having back problems.
About 70% of the workers are having back problems of some kind. Myself, and my co-workers, recognize in everyone who is working, in what they are doing and how they are doing it, and in what they try to get out of doing, what kind of injury or physical problem they are dealing with or trying to hide. Sometimes we can see that someone is out of breath, light headed, dehydrated, sick, weak, worn out, tired out, or inured. If the sick, worn out, or injured person finds something they can do, and keeps working, complaining from co-workers is minimal. If someone frequently stops working, or is not doing enough, everyone turns against that person and complains about them to the foreman.
Having to physically compete every minute of a 12 hour work day, every day of the week, with experienced oil field/construction workers who are 20 years younger than me, is a ridiculous position for me to be in, considering that I have already been a foreman, superintendent, project manager, engineer, manager, and business owner, but people and employers in North Dakota don’t give a shit, and they could not care less. I think about this some, but mostly I just want to make it through each day and make this money for as long as I possibly can.