Okay. I injured my lower back. Like most, I have no idea why. Sure, I’m not a spring chicken. But I’m strong and active and shouldn’t have dropped to the floor in pain while putting on my yoga pants.
It’s been two months and counting. In the scheme of things, that’s no time at all. And my injury is neither life-threatening nor chronic—at least, I hope it isn’t. Not like my friend with MS. Or my dear friend with severe arthritis, fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome and all kinds of other stuff.
Experts estimate that 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some time in their lives. So, I’m just one of the crowd.
I’ve seen two chiropractors for a grand total of twenty-five times. I’m working with an acupuncturist once a week (though I forgot my appointment this Tuesday, even after figuring out how to use Cal, my new cell phone calendar.) I have a series of stretches that I do daily. And I’ve added walking to my exercise regimen.
So, here’s the thing: There have to be some grand lessons from all of this. Well, not exactly grand. Those who have survived cancer or other horrendous diseases talk about living each day to the fullest, about letting go of all the “little stuff” that used to impede their sense of happiness and contentment.
I’m not in their shoes.
But maybe this injury heralds a new growth spurt. Maybe I shouldn’t be frustrated because I have to ask my husband to bring the basket of laundry up from the basement or to roll up the rubber garden hose or to carry bags of groceries from the garage into the house.
Maybe I need to learn how to ask people for help and not feel guilty or weak. I’ve always prided myself on my independence and need to learn that it’s okay to rely on others to pick up the slack. Crap. I’m sounding like my mother the day she announced she would no longer drive a car and would happily rely on my father or friends or even the retirement home bus to cart her around. But if she could do it, so can I.
This injury is prompting me to stop my complaining—well, at least to think about not complaining. No one wants to listen, and bitching accomplishes nothing. Now, I like to complain. To feel sorry for myself and to have others feel sorry for me. But I’ve got some important people in my life (think the friends I referenced earlier) who rarely, if ever, engage others in their woes. I need to learn from them.
It’s the benefit of positive thinking on health both physical and mental. Who can argue with that?
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
I’m betting there are some spiritual transitions in all of this, too. I probably need to get back to meditation. I started when I had my first grand mal seizure and continued twice daily for five years. That was a long time ago.
Meditation gave me a sense of humor about my condition. It enhanced my creativity. It helped center me so that I wasn’t a ball of fear who had panic attacks whenever there was a ping in my head. Meditation made me a calmer, more empathic person.
All of these lessons from a stinking back injury? It’s a good thing it’s nothing more serious. I might become a crone after all.