You know in 1960's sitcoms, how the main character "throws his back out" and hilarity ensues? Like maybe he's lying prostrate on the floor because that's where he was when his back "went out" and the doorbell rings and he has to get it because it's his boss at the door and if he doesn't get the door he'll lose the big account?
Well, now I feel badly about laughing at that poor man (it was always a man). That wasn't funny at all.
I know because that was me on the floor yesterday and it was ugly. It's just like they show in the sitcoms - you're almost completely paralyzed, stuck in the position you last held when the big one hit, fearing that if you move your pinky the wrong way you might sever your spinal cord and die. And I was totally not laughing.
I've had this back issue before but never to the point of paralysis and hilarious sitcom fun. The last time it happened, I was spending every Thursday night in a dance class shaking my groove thing in a very particular, repetitive way. Let's call it bootylicious. And one Thursday night, my back said, "No more KC and the Sunshine Band. I simply won't tolerate it." (Coincidentally, I just saw a Dancing With the Stars segment on Entertainment Tonight that said that back ailments are the number one injury sustained by dancers. They didn't say "over 40" but I added it myself). And, I must tell you, that the show did go on even though my bootylicious was broken. Then it took an entire summer of chiropractic care to get my booty back into proper position. And I don't do bootylicious anymore.
This time, it's a surfing injury. My triumph over irrational fear has brought me down. To the ground. It turns out that the simple act of getting on your board is a core-heavy workout that I repeated one-too-many times. It hurt at the time but I ignored it because I wasn't surfing yet. If it had hurt when I flew off my board while I was actually surfing, I would've been like "I'M HURT! I HURT MY BACK! STOP! I HURT MY BACK SURFING!" But I didn't hurt my back surfing - I hurt my back prior to surfing, so I ignored it. I couldn't go up to my surfer dude instructor, who would probably keep surfing in a lightning storm, and say "I know it doesn't seem like I've done anything yet, but I got an owie."
For two weeks, it bugged me. It came and went. No big deal. But as soon as Mike boarded a plane for Hawaii (where he took surfing lessons), the intensity increased steadily. And when he walked in the door 6 days later, I hit the ground and wondered if I might die there. Because how would I ever move from this place? How would I eat? How would I sleep? Omigod, how would I pee? I think not peeing can kill you.
And Mike keeps saying that it's all in my head, my mind's way of dealing with stress (and I'm like "what stress?") and as soon as I acknowledge that it's created by my subconscious mind, it will go away. And he keeps giving me his Kindle so I can read the book about how it's all in my head. Except the Kindle is too heavy and I can't hold it without crying.
Witness to all this is the painter outside my window who has a front row seat to our real-life sitcom. At 8am that morning, I walked out on our deck in my bathrobe (I like to set a precedent) to say good morning and chat for a few minutes. At 11am that morning, I was frozen in the fetal position on the floor in front of the wall of windows, my hair splayed on the ground like Helen Keller having a tantrum, trying various awkward ways to get up and failing. At 1pm, I walked silently, gingerly, like a woman in the middle of a contraction, past the painter and, after 3 failed attempts and several f words, climbed into the passenger side of our car. He probably thinks I'm dying.
We scrambled to find a chiropractor who, thankfully, cracked me into a state of mild of relief. I was upright and awkwardly mobile. And the lovely chiropractor entertained me with his stories of attending chiropractic school in Minneapolis. How he was so annoyed by everyone saying hi to him all the time. How he would ask for directions and people would say "Oh sure, come with me, I'll just show you how to get there!" And he'd get angry and think "NO! Don't take me there! Just give me frickin' directions!" He laughed when I told him how I knocked on doors and introduced myself when I first arrived in New Hampshire.
"People here have a wall of granite around them," he said. "If you mess with their granite wall, they'll get mad at you. But if you give it time, they will be your friends for life."
I smile, oh how nice, yes mmm hmm, but what I'm really thinking is.....
A) I don't have that kind of time.
B) I'm not that forgiving. If you're mean to me, you're off the list.
C) I'm not that dumb. Who would be dumb enough to try to befriend someone who regularly abuses them, albeit passive-aggressively? Hey, do you have some hoops I can jump through while you isolate me for a few years so that I can prove that I'm worthy of your friendship? Someday?
Please. I was in the green group for chrissake. And even though they disguised it by using color names instead of descriptive names, we all knew that the green group meant smart.
But Dr. Chiropractor is not a dumbass and he's warm and friendly and compassionate and he cracks the shit out of my back so I can sort-of walk again. And today, I rest on the couch and baby myself.
And feel badly about how I laughed at Dick Van Dyke.