Janet Urquhart: This would be the spinal column
November 7, 2002
Thank goodness Pitkin County voters endorsed Referendum 1A this week to save the programs for senior citizens. I’m feeling rather old myself lately and may need a little assisted living.
A mishap at the gym involving my lower back has rendered me decidedly unspry. What I lack in agility, however, I more than make up for in crotchetiness.
I’ve been shuffling around like an octogenarian who’s forgotten where she parked her walker. Last weekend, I was ready to summon Meals on Wheels until it occurred to me I’d have to get up and let them in, which entailed more pain than a hot meal and annoyingly chipper conversation from a solicitous bearer of soup was worth.
Instead, I contemplated a 911 call: “Help, I’m lying on my couch and I can’t get up.” But that, too, would have involved crawling on my hands and knees to the telephone, located in the bedroom, so I remained inert on the sofa, whimpering softly between curses.
I’m not sure exactly what I did to my back, though I’ve done it before. It always happens when I’m engaged in some rather innocuous activity. This time, I set an 8-pound dumbbell down on a bench and, in that act of bending slightly with a wussy weight in my hand, an all-too-familiar wrenching sensation crippled me instantly.
Of course, I made the mistake of describing the incident to a co-worker, who offered to let me use her fuzzy, pink 5-pound weights so as not to strain myself in the future. (Frankly, I don’t think anyone who owns fuzzy, pink 5-pounders is in a position to ridicule the disabled.)
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I’ve never been blessed with a particularly limber lumbar, but now I’ve got all the flexibility of an uncooked strand of spaghetti. If you tossed a wad of $1,000 bills at my feet and told me I could have the cash if I bent at the waist to pick it up, I don’t think I could do it.
It’s all I can do to walk with my new, distinctively decrepit gait. I take tiny steps with my knees and feet slightly splayed, tailbone pushed out, stooping slightly forward, but shoulders back. I was going to go as the S-curves for Halloween, but I went home and immobilized myself instead.
Nighttime is the worst time, since I can’t maneuver by shuffling my feet once I’m laying down. The twisting action I would normally employ to turn over is out of the question. Shifting from my right side to my left or vice versa now requires a multi-step process and my full attention. Needless to say, I’m wide awake a couple of dozen times a night.
If I need to use the facilities in the middle of the night, I’m awake for at least an hour, contemplating which is more excruciating ? actually getting up or the pressure on my bladder. Eventually, I uncrumple myself and answer nature’s call.
The same routine is repeated each morning, when I hit the snooze alarm multiple times because I dread the act of rising. So far, I haven’t figured out how to get from a prone to an upright position without somehow employing my lower back in the tortuous act of straightening up.
Instead of lying in bed for 45 minutes after the alarm goes off, delaying the inevitable, I should actually be getting up early, since putting on my socks now requires about 15 minutes of concerted effort.
Then I call 911 for emergency assistance with my shoelaces.
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