It’s been a busy, busy week at work. It’s been a long week. It’s good to be busy at work, and I like that, business is picking up, it’s brisk. The plans for the move are inching forward. Since Wednesday, I’ve enrolled 6 new students, and tested 7 more. I’ve worked 9 & 10 the last 6 days straight. Which would have been fine, but for Wednesday.
Most of you know I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, what you likely don’t know is that RA is not my first experience with serious pain. I have eight herniated/prolapsed discs in my neck/back. Five (of the seven) in my neck, and three in my lower back. I move with care. Twenty-two years ago when I slipped on the ice and was rushed to the hospital, the doctor told me, I’d be in a wheelchair in less than a year.
I didn’t have time for that. I do have numb spots, and tingling shooting pains, you learn to live with it. I move carefully and don’t lift things. Kids and coworkers are gracious and carry heavy things for me. My Kindle is a magical back-saver! I can carry a complete Shakespeare and dictionary in my purse. I have what’s commonly referred to as a hidden disability. Usually, the only outward sign is my handicap placard. I am careful to rest my head throughout the course of the day – to take the pressure off my neck.
That didn’t happen this week. I moved from parent to student to contractors to corporate and back again from Monday until shortly before noon on Wednesday. I wore low-heeled cowboy style boots Wednesday. I was standing in the office talking to coworkers – when suddenly I felt my neck pop-pop-pop. Pain shot up into my head and down through my neck into my shoulder.
This wasn’t good. My blood sugar, and pressure, dropped. For a brief moment the room spun. And I felt like I was functioning in a fog. I knew I was shorter—which was strange. N & B got food into me and bolstered me up; the day had seven hours remaining. The week still had 35 hours of work for me. Work that I would do in flat shoes. Converse.
I came home, walked—hobbled—dragged myself in and announced that my back was “out” my head hurt and I needed dinner, ice, and pain medication.
JL responded that he too had hurt his back, his lower back.
How? I asked, trying to be sympathetic.
Carrying a cast iron bat tub up a flight of stairs. What did you do to your back?
Hmm. Well, um, I was sort of standing and then I sort of wasn’t. I wore heels, I turned my head too fast.
He looked at my feet. He looked back at me, somewhat incredulously, expectantly, as if to ask, and?
I tried to imagine how someone carries a cast iron bathtub – the skillet seems heavy to me! No, I didn’t fall off my heel (although I know people who have done that), no I wasn’t carrying something heavy, I wasn’t pushed, or shoved, or anything. The discs in my back had just reached their limit, thank you very much. On a good day, x-rays of my back look like a sloppy stack of pancakes, one pressing in onto my spine and the next protruding out not offering sufficient support. One of them pressed more one way than usual and sent the whole stack into disarray. The surrounding muscles tensed, locking the discs in this sorry state. Pressure was placed on my skeletal structure – my skull, clavicle.
Ok, so I didn’t pick up a bathtub. I did a lot of crazy things a long time ago. I damaged myself a little bit at a time until that December day 22 years ago when my body reached its limit. Riding motorcycles, horses, bulls (being thrown from all!), climbing trees (and falling out of them), jumping out second story windows, off seawalls, playing chicken with the ocean. Playing chicken with the Universe.
JL’s back feels better. I made it through my work week, with significant successes in my business. I have come home each night to dinner, ice, and medication.
Yes, there’s surgery. But it won’t change my pain level, nor will it restore the damaged nerves – and it will serve to weaken the surrounding discs. It will stop further degeneration of the discs operated on and that’s it. Yeah, no thanks. Every day for twenty-two years I have played chicken with the Universe. This week, the Universe scored a point.
I may be down for the moment – but the Universe should not count me out yet!
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