I’m cranky. And my back hurts. Sometimes seriously enough for me to take Advil, sometimes seriously enough that I can not sleep.
I first learned of this back issue in 2004 when I fell on black ice. Falling hard on my left hip, I made an appointment to see my orthopedist to make sure nothing was broken. After Xrays were taken, the doctor re-entered the room and said,
“It’s not your hip I’m worried about, it’s your back.”
“There’s nothing wrong with my back.”
“There is. You never knew about it because you’ve been asymptomatic, and it’s probably congenital, but something’s wrong with your L-4 and L-5 vertebra. The condition is called, spondylolisthesis. It’s a big word that basically means you have a forward displacement of vertebra.
“The vertebra of your lower back go like this.” He grabbed his oft used, yellowing skeleton located on the cabinet to his left and manipulated the spine to look like my back. “Instead of like this,” he said, letting it slide back into its natural curvature.
It has taken a while to understand the idiosyncrasies of spondy. Like an allergy, there is an emotional component that plays a pivotal role. I dragged a heavy sette down two flights of stairs by myself. This is a bad idea for a person with back issues. I felt the pinch and ache of tightening muscles. But it wasn’t until my cousin in Florida had a thyroid biopsy for a problem that’s proven tricky and my cousin in New York was admitted to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for pulmonary blood clots, that my back started screaming.
I try to hide my feelings from myself by remaining rational and in an attempt to spare myself. Emotions are messy and confusing but suppression carries its own level of dysfunction. I don’t like looking at loss head on, even the possibility disturbs my equilibrium. I may suffer from PTSD in this regard, stemming from my early days. Which would help to explain my manner of dealing. To say nothing of the fact that my mom had an operation in New York at Columbia Presbyterian, and my dad was in Florida, seeing more doctors than I have fingers.
A smart, aware person can see their mistakes and learn from them, alter behaviors, change outcomes. But this is not the first time I’ve done this, and automatic pilot takes over in these instances. Until my back hurts enough to remind me to feel, causing the slow process of healing and presence to engage.