Back Issues

I inherited many wonderful things from my parents. Blue eyes. A love of reading. A light-hearted sense of humor.

I also inherited their backbone. And unfortunately, that’s not a metaphor.

Especially not this week.

This week, my lower back muscles have done their earnest best to remind me that yes, I am one of the family. I’m not quite sure how it happened – bringing in one box too many from the garage? Twisting and reaching to wash the windowsills of my old place? – but one fine day, those muscles conspired to bring me more agony than a double-feature showing of “Ishtar” and “Battlefield Earth.”

Yes. That bad.

Many days later, with liberal applications of medicine, exercise, ice and self-pity, I am slowly on the mend. And in between the usual shrieks and moans, I think I’ve even managed to learn a few things.

I’ve learned that it is possible to get out of bed with a badly wounded back … if you’re willing to allow 40 minutes for experimentation.

I’ve learned that sofas and beds can be painful traps for those who forget lesson one.

I’ve learned that multiple one-to-two-hour naps, strung together, can equal a decent eight hours’ sleep. Barely.

I’ve learned that an inability to sleep can be an advantage when planning to see a royal wedding that starts at 4 in the morning.

I’ve learned just how common back problems are – and that everyone has their own solution. (“Have you tried a chiropractor?” “This stretch worked for me.” “You know, someone told me to sit on a gym ball for a while …”)

Most of all, I think I’ve learned that there’s a time to stop being stubborn. At least once, I pushed myself back to work before I was really ready, and paid for it. Another night, I went to bed feeling pretty good and confident that I’d be ready to go – only to wake up the next day as Frankenstein’s Outlet-Mall Monster again.

Sometimes you just have to be patient and let things take their own pace — and not just with spines. Let it be, as Mr. McCartney once said.

I’m trying. And I think I’m getting better at it. But I’m still looking forward to living another of Paul’s songs instead.

That’s right. I can’t wait to get my back to where it once belonged.

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