Back at work Monday morning following an absolutely wonderful Easter weekend, I sit at my desk and try with mixed success to maintain a reasonably upright posture. Doing so is often more difficult than it should be, but a bit more effort than normal is being made today after the activities of the past couple of days.
Actually, I can’t blame a stiff lower back solely on playing outside with the kiddos a lot over the course of both Saturday and Sunday. I often feel at least a twinge of discomfort upon getting out of bed, or over the course of a typical day at the office, but a coping mechanism always kicks in. I will seek outside attention only when urgently necessary .. and time will tell as this week goes by just how necessary a trip to the chiropractor may be.
This is by no means a new phenomena. I first remember feeling discomfort in my back while living in New York City after graduating from college. Sharing a one-bedroom apartment with a college buddy, he paid a higher share of the rent to have the bedroom, while I slept on a foldout couch in the living room. At some point in this arrangement, I traded sleeping on the couch for a futon. But every so often, I’d either wake up in the middle of the night in a bit of pain, or certainly feel it in the morning.
At the time, I figured it was either the couch or the futon causing these woes, but considering it’s gone on here and there for more than 25 years now, it must have something to do with the way I sleep. Perhaps I am subconsciously trying to replicate letters of the alphabet while in dreamland, or maybe I somehow channel my inner Quasimodo during my non-waking hours. The difference is now, of course, is that I’m in my late 40s and not my early 20s. Additional inelasticity seems to come with each passing year, which is a slightly depressing reality when there are growing children who want to play with you.
On Saturday, I was in the neighbor’s driveway playing basketball, and I quickly and instinctively bent over for a bounce pass. “What are you doing?!” my lower back yelled, with an expletive or two probably thrown in for good measure. I kept on playing, but kept the bending to a minimum. Afterward, I tried to keep from getting too stiff, but was invited to play touch football later in the afternoon and simply couldn’t refuse. I was able to hang in there without too much discomfort, but again felt some stiffening in the hours that followed.
On Sunday I shot baskets, hit some tennis balls and played some badminton. It was great exercise on a beautiful day, and for the most part I felt fine — I just tried to take extra care to not bend over too quickly. Still, come Monday morning, the decision was made to take a “muscle relaxer” (as my mother-in-law proclaimed it) in the hope I wouldn’t be in agony while perched in front of the computer all day. (I also picked up a large iced coffee to try to keep from getting too “relaxed.”)
Still, a visit to the chiropractor may be in order sometime soon. It’s not that I don’t like going — he always “fixes” me in pretty short order, and he has a way of offering comfort by making me feel like I’m ready to go on a national tour as a stand-up comic (there’s no way whatsoever that I’m Robin Williams-funny, but his guffaws come every time). But it’s almost as if I’m nervous about setting a dangerous precedent if I go in without it being absolutely necessary.
The trick is, though, is to try and make sure “absolutely necessary” doesn’t become something even more urgent. That would definitely be no laughing matter