The only thing that would have made the illusion that the inside of my head is an awful lot like an old school arcade better would be the nostalgic sound of a pinball game in play. As I was stepping off the low speed treadmill workstation at work this morning, I noticed that my right hip was a bit sore, but not as sore as it could have been, having slept on the equivalent of a queen sized marshmallow overnight. In years past, if I wasn’t sleeping on some plywood with a couple of cottonballs hot glued to the top of it, I’d be in a world of literal hurt in the morning.
went through several years of serious back pain. My L5 vertebrae was
diagnosed, in layman’s terms, as being squashed, dehydrated, and
beginning to bulge. I’ve got posture issues, muscles the consistency of
a rubber band left on the windowsill in august, and a severe mind block
when it comes to exercise. So, the fact that I’ve been on this
walkstation almost every work day since the beginning of October and can
count on one hand the number of times I’ve taken the elevator on one
hand is a big fucking deal. I haven’t see much weight loss, but I can
touch my toes again, and I don’t have to spend near as much time in the
morning regressing from the body of an 80 year old to that of a 35 year
old woman when it comes to aches and pains. It might not be radical,
but I can see the payoff rather than have to trust that it’s working,
and that makes it real to me.
really knocked it out of the park as far as convincing me that I’m a
Virginia Slim kind of girl, (that I’ve come a long way, baby) is that I
woke up this morning still able to walk. You see, I got a new bed over
the weekend. It’s a pillowtop that makes me feel like a bit like Jonah
with the way it swallows you whole. I was just certain I’d wake up sore
from lack of rigid support. I mean, it’s not like it would have been a
first. Take my last trip to Mexico, for example.
ex-father in law was. . . well, buy me a pitcher of margaritas
sometime and ask me about the guy. I’ve got a few stories. The quick
and dirty here is that he’d been slowly alienating his family be being
the type of hemorrhoid that not even a donut pillow and surgery could
cure when he got this idea that he’d take his kids and their spouses on a
week-long cruise to make it all better. Well, my affections can’t be
bought, but I wasn’t going to deny the guy his attempt. I mean, we’re
talking umbrella drinks and cabana boys here! So, I bought up all the
SPF 500 I could find, packed up my breeziest clothes, and set out to
cruise the caribbean for a week.
had taken a cruise for our honeymoon. And Alaskan cruise, to be exact.
The first night on that ship saw 9 foot swells that turned us both
greener than pizza left out on the counter for a month. This time, we
had smooth seas, and slept on a cloud. The problem with that was that
the bed was too soft. I didn’t have the support I was used to at home,
and that caused a panic in the lumbar, leading to one of the worst
spasms I’d had since the injury that sent me to the ER in 2006. Here I
was in paradise, with tanned bodies to ogle and buckets of beer to
nurse, and wasn’t able to stand up straight or walk for more than a few
minutes without stopping. The Advil I’d brought with me wasn’t enough,
and I couldn’t really enjoy relaxing in a pool-side folding chair when
it took me 5 minutes and two sets of helping hands to get comfortable.
the first shore excursion we took was to Cozumel, Mexico. As much as I
would have loved to have done the swimming with the Dolphins, I knew
there was no way in hell I was going to be able to shimmy into my
bathing suit if I couldn’t even put my socks on without help. So, that
was out. Instead, we shuffled through town, taking in the sights.
me amend that. We shuffled through town looking for some underwear in
my size. Did I mention that I’d started packing for the trip three days
before we left and neglected to put any spare panties in the suitcase?
(My ex-husband STILL hasn’t let me live that down.) So, we were on a
quest for ‘roos that fit an American Fatass in Mexico when we found the
pharmacia off the main street, advertising several medications you’d
need a prescription for back in the states.
on the board was Flexeril, a muscle relaxant I had a legal prescription
for back in the states. The fact that I was on vacation in paradise,
stooped like a woman double my age and in the kind of pain that keeps
most people in bed was a huge factor in making the decision to fork over
the $40 for a bottle of little pink miracle pills.
the time we had our fill of fresh guacamole made tableside, bought a
bottle of 100% agave tequila, marveled at how blue the water in the
ocean was, and ambled through all the stores in search of even a single
pack of high waisted grannie panties, the ship’s staff had found a slab
of plywood to put under the mattress of my berth. We got back to our
cabin, put the bags from our shopping on the floor, and I plunked down
on the bed to rest my aching body and test the firmness of the
jury-rigged fix. It seemed to offer more of what I thought I’d need, so
I took out the bottle of muscle relaxants, took the equivalent dose of
what I had at home, and wandered out to meet the rest of the family on
the promenade before dinner.
rest of the trip was so very relaxing. I think by the end of it, I
was the psychological consistency of silly putty. We sucked down
bottles of beer out of a bucket, soaked in the sun by day, and the shows
by night. To this day, I’m still in awe of the showgirls doing their
high-kicking routines in 4 inch heels on the high seas. Hats off to
you, ladies. I couldn’t make it to the buffet in flip flops without
holding on to something. I slept like a champ at night. Hell, I slept
like a pro or a distant member of the Van Winkle family for the entire
week. I figured, it’s vacation! Catch up on what you need, and let the
gentle rocking of the boat sooth a girl and lull me to sleep. I mean,
the pills were helping, but I still had to see the ship’s doctor for an
injection of pain relievers and anti-inflammatories into those spasming
muscles at least once while we were out to sea. (Let me tell you,
dropping trou for a strange medical tech with a South African accent
wasn’t something I’d planned on having on my bucket list, but there you
go.) I’d have given my kingdom (all ¼ achre that it sat on) for my
prescription pain meds and TENS unit that trip.
day came with its organized chaos of getting thousands of people off of
a ship and away to their next destination in a somewhat orderly manner.
The Flexeril was packed away in the suitcase to keep it from being
confiscated outright by the TSA agents charged with making my flying
experience safer, one degradation at a time.
I got home, I had my beloved matzoh mattress and TENS unit, so I put
the quasi-legal bottle of Flexeril on the shelf and forgot about it. If
i don’t have to take the pain meds, I don’t want to. Seems like the
wrong way to end up on the news, or as another statistic, if you build
up a tolerance.
in the following year, I threw out my back again. Not badly. I mean,
it wasn’t like I was back in the ER with tingling in my feet again, or
needing to walk with a cane like I did for much of 2007, but I was
pretty uncomfortable. I dug out my TENS unit, and fished the nearly
forgotten pills out of the back of my medicine cabinet. I was running
late, as per usual, so I threw them in my purse, shoehorned myself
behind the wheel, put the seat heaters on nuclear, and went to work.
don’t remember what I had done to make my back and hips angry, but I do
remember it was winter or early spring when it happened. It also must
have been some time in 2008 because I was still a field tech who filled
in on the help desk when they were short handed, rather than a full time
phone jockey. I do recall sitting on one of our high bar stools in our
setup room at a station where the radiators were on two sides of me,
and barely being able to keep my eyes open. I mean, I was the level of
zonked that went past A Clockwork Orange when it came to the effort I
had to put in to staying conscious. I was babysitting a Microsoft
Update install, and it was going to take a series of restarts to
complete, so I had to stay in my upright and locked position. In the
you ever seen GI Jane? You know the scene where the recruits are told
to write an essay about why they love being a Marine immediately after
coming in from a hellacious, days long training session, and the drill
sergeant cranks the heat up in the room? Remember how the class drops
like flies into a drooling, messy slumber in their composition books?
Yeah, I was nearly a one woman reenactment of that scene. One minute
I’ve got the mouse in my hand, restarting the machine. The next I’m
indelicately seated on the stool, legs splayed, about to slip off the
edge onto the floor because I’d been hit by the ninja star of sandman
sand. There may have even been a snort to punctuate my near miss with
being a puddle of comatose girl on the floor.
a bubble of wax rising to the top of a lava lamp, the realization
dawned on me; THIS is why I slept so much on my cruise! It wasn’t the
vacation. It wasn’t the rhythmic rocking of the boat. It was the damn
drugs! These might have the same name, but damn if they didn’t hit me
differently than the American Flexeril. And then, with the same speed
of that wax bubble breaking apart as it reached the highest point in the
glass container, I had an awful realization; I was stuck at work like
this until it wore off. I couldn't drive home. I was like a
narcoleptic headed home after a bender! I mean, for all intents and
purposes, I was inebriated at work. So, what’s a gal to do when she’s
impaired and sure she’s going to get canned for it? Well, I don’t know
about your bright ideas, but I hid in the handicapped stall in the
bathroom three floors up from mine. Though, my idea of hiding involved
snoring, and waking up an hour later to dried drool on my arm and stall
railings from where I was leaned up against them, trying to get
than an hour later, I’m back to catching my eyelids heading south to
the border again. I struggle through till lunch, when I’d decided I
was going to find a dark, quiet place to take a power nap.
20 winks came to me while curled up on the naugahyde chaise lounge in
the women’s room down the hall from my office. Working on the same
floor as the Mayor has its perks, and no expense was spared when
furnishing the restrooms. Well, until you got to the ones the unwashed
masses had access to, and then it was more like an afterthought bought
at the discount furniture store in a rush after the mahogany stuff had
already been delivered. Amid the occasional automatic flush and bodily
aromas you can only find in a ladies room, I napped away my lunch hour.
I managed to avoid third degree carpet burns on my knuckles and made it
through till quitting time. Thankfully, my commute was during a time
when the roads weren’t as full of hot-headed road ragers as you’d find
during the height of rush hour, but I took the back roads anyway. I
didn’t want my drug-induced sleepiness to affect my ability to avoid
non-consensual bumper kissing. Because no means no, don’t you know.
the time I got home and hauled the matched set of luggage under my eyes
up to the bedroom, I had used all the gas in the reserve tank. I
plopped, face first, onto the bed where I remained until my then-husband
woke me up with a steaming platter and a cold drink for dinner a couple
hours later. Having slept through lunch, I don’t remember chewing my
food. Suddenly, the plate was empty and I found my strength returning.
My first act upon my return to the land of the living was to flush the
rest of the contents of my illicit Mexican Flexeril straight down the
toilet. I might occasionally have fisticufs with insomnia, but from
then on I swore to be a Benadryl or melatonin and warm milk kind of
moral of the story is twofold. First, the experiment with the new
squishy mattress not only makes Thunderhead happy, but I’d call it a
success. I’m not back to walking with a cane after sleeping on it a
couple nights. Apparently, my daily appointment with the walkstation at
work is making a difference where it counts. Second, there’s a reason
I’ve never indulged in recreational drugs. If I don’t have a contract
where I’m getting paid for my stupid behavior, I’m not gonna do anything
that pretty much guarantees that anyone following me around with a
camera could gain Youtube infamy as “that guy who caught X on film”.
That shit comes naturally, and Bravo isn’t exactly knocking on my door