I knew I was in trouble when I had to lie down recently to zip my jeans. Getting them on was less of a problem than breathing afterward. Never mind that I had to stand up to read the newspaper, where I discovered that the University of Richmond needed volunteers for diet research. In other words, they were looking for fat guinea pigs. I qualified and — get this — they would pay me for filling out the surveys. What's not to like?
I pondered joining the research as part of another dilemma — trying to decide if I'm just getting older or actually falling apart. It all started when I recently drove nearly 2,000 miles in less than three weeks. One 900-mile trip was for a writing conference, the other three were for family functions.
Finally back home, I ran into the Manchester Family YMCA, hoping to make up for lost time. My back twanged midway through the squats and crunches, but I persisted, believing I just needed to loosen up the ol' bod.
I could barely walk the next morning. Thinking an ancient disc injury had flared up, I went to my chiropractor, who recommended a few exercises and pointedly reminded me that I didn't have a 20-year-old back any more.
I then visited Dennis Dickinson, the masseur I call "The Man With the Magic Hands." Heretofore, I had only experienced the joy of going to Dennis (who specializes in Russian medical massage and also teaches massage therapy) when someone had given me a gift certificate.
"Here's where I think the problem is," he said, pushing down with his thumb on a back muscle, momentarily making me forget I was a Christian. Dennis ignored my salty language and explained that I had severely stressed my psoas muscle. (When pronouncing the word, the "p" is silent; saying the rest of the word in a Southern drawl explained why I'd had trouble sitting down.) Dennis suggested a series of massages, coupled with more exercises and a visit to my internist.
After prescribing muscle relaxers and yet more strengthening exercises, my doc said I had set myself up for the injury by driving an old car. He obviously doesn't understand the term "starving artist." It seems that, over time, car seats wear out and cause a person to sit lopsided. The long trips, followed by the rambunctious exercise, wreaked havoc along my spine.
After several weeks of ice packs and muscle relaxers, chased by more exercises and deep-tissue massages, which brought the most relief, I began to feel normal again. Since then, I've made a command decision to use massages as part of my new health regimen and not just as a special treat, coupled, of course, with my determination to keep off the two pounds I've lost since joining the other fat guinea pigs in the UR study.
In the beginning, after my first computer survey at UR was filled out, I wanted to skip the weigh-in. Nothing doing, but I was given a Diet Coke afterward. I like this reward system. I especially like the checks that arrive periodically following completion of the next surveys. From some of the questions, I gathered they were assessing how guilty I felt after eating a brownie.
I've decided to reward myself with more Diet Cokes and fewer brownies, make a concentrated effort to eat more slowly and slow down overall. This last lesson was a costly one in several ways. I've finally realized that I need to pay attention to preserving what's left of the ol' bod. After all, come Sept. 2, I'll be doing the Medicare dance. No, Medicare won't pay for my massages, but I figure I'll be able to afford them, since I'll be saving a bundle on insurance premiums.
I think I'll spend the remainder on belly-dancing classes. I hear it's good exercise.
©Nancy Wright Beasley 2010. All rights reserved.