Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nobody but us crickets

Hello - is anybody out there?  All work and no play makes Keenie Beanie a dull girl.  For anybody following along, I took a new job in April and, boy, has it been taking it out of me.  I've been averaging 50 hour weeks, and I just met another big deadline on Friday, leaving me with a few moments to take stock.

Let's see, since I started this job, I've barely picked up my camera, I've nearly stopped writing, hardly made contact with my friends online or IRL, and have no energy or motivation to actually get out and enjoy my leisure hours.  There have been lots of OT hours on the laptop, exhausted early nights when I can't keep my eyes open past 9 pm, and weekend naps.  Come to think of it, the weekend naps have been bloomin' lovely.

I didn't even bother going to the fireworks shows for Rose Festival at the beginning of June or for the Fourth.  The effort of leaving home at that time of the evening seemed just too much.  And I LOVE me some fireworks.  Lots of people are a bit, meh, about fireworks.  But for me there's something about the beautiful sparkling colors against an inky sky, combined with bursts of sonic waves slamming into your chest.  It puts a mile-wide grin on my face, and if I'm honest, always makes me a bit sad when the frenetic burst of rockets goes off for the finale because I know it's going to end soon.  All too fleeting.  It's not like I can just go out and see fireworks any old time.  So for me to miss them this year is kind of a signal.

I'm not complaining, understand.  But recently I've been feeling like I'm in some kind of chrysalis.  Waiting for real life to start again when I'm not so busy, or whatever.  And the fact is, what I'm actually doing is letting real life pass me by.  I can sleep when I'm dead - but I'm not going to get these moments back, so I'd better not waste them.

* * *
I moaned back in the middle of June that my neck hurt.  That injury, however mysteriously I got it, affected so much.  The pain of working at a computer got me out of the habit of writing or loading photos.  It completely derailed my workout program.  But I never recounted the prescribed course of chiropractic and massage therapy, which was an adventure in itself.

I visited a chiropractor on the advice of my GP, who assured me it would be fine when I expressed suspicion and a bit of nervousness about the therapeutic techniques.  I went to see Dr. Megan DeJana, who is this adorable, tiny little thing.  Lovely person really. And she did a great job of allaying my fears, talking to me at length about what appeared to be wrong and how her treatment would address it.  And she was so practiced, assured and deft that I barely had a chance to be nervous about the neck adjustment before it was all over.

Then she sent me down the hall for the first session of massage therapy.  Should I be nervous if the massage therapist says, with a kind of pity, "Unfortunately, you don't get to have a nice relaxation massage today"?  Should I be even more nervous when she runs her hands over my spasming neck and upper back and says, "Oh my, you're all knotted up!  It's going to be cool to work on someone that actually has something wrong with them"?

My husband teases me about a ridiculously low threshold for pain.  I'm not sure its that I can't tolerate pain - I just don't want to tolerate pain.  And if a little moaning or reflexive overreaction can mitigate the pain somehow, well I am all. for. that.  However, I didn't want to be wasting the potential therapeutic effects of this massage, so I just clammed up and agreed through clenched teeth that whatever the masseuse was doing was totally fine - even when she was pushing so far into my back that I'm convinced she may have been able to cop a frontsie feel from the inside of my chest.  And I was sore for days afterwards.

The visit finished up with this session that the chiro staff just called, cryptically, "therapies."  It involved laying facedown as they stuck electrodes to my back and neck and then pumped current through them for about 10 minutes.  Kind of like those electronic ab belts must work to contract your muscles (and isn't it a crying shame that those things don't actually do anything to reveal one's inner six-pack?).  The tech told me it might feel a bit weird and to just say "when" as she turned up the strength to a comfortable level.  See my above-mentioned reflexive overreactive pain-avoidance techniques?  As soon as I felt the tiniest twinge of electricity, I was all "that's good!"  So the first "therapies" session was not so therapeutic.

The next time I asked her what level I had used, which was about an 8, and what was the highest she'd seen - about a 40.  So I manned up and let her turn it up much higher.  And as I lay there, the strangest things started to happen.  First my neck and shoulder muscles started to involuntarily twitch - not constantly, mind you, but just every so often, so I looked like I was trying to do part of the Thriller dance.  Then it started to feel like there was something moving around on my back and shoulders - like a leprechaun was walking on me.  It's the oddest thing to have your nervous system telling you things are happening that you know simply cannot be true.

The next session I asked her what level I had previously used, which had been about a 13 and I told her confidently, "turn it up to 17 today." And she started to turn the dial, and it got stronger and stronger, and I steeled my bravery until I thought "Holy hell, that is so strong it's going to fry my brain!"  So I said "when" and then asked how high I'd let her turn it - preparing to impress myself with how brave I'd been.  Fourteen.  Really?!  Yep - still a wuss.

After about five visits over the course of several weeks, I was much improved but not completely back to normal.  One Saturday, I was starting to feel frustrated - like maybe this was it.  I'm getting old and I'm just going to be in pain now.  I was feeling a bit down about it, but miraculously, I realized by the end of Sunday that I had felt like a new woman all day.  It was almost like a switch had been flicked and I was healed!

Of course, that same day I mysteriously injured my wrist, which those of you who know me personally may remember I had a pretty serious bone surgery on about 5 years ago.  But that's another story.

So, tell me about your tolerance for pain.  (Props to anybody that's given birth, because I am terrified of the prospect.)


  1. Hurrah, you're back!

    Glad the neck is feeling better. I too get nervous when therapists start fiddling about with my neck and back - especially the crunching noises that generally accompany any treatment - but it's definitely always worth it.

    My biggest thing with chiropractors/osteopaths is that I always seem to get ones who are really good looking men, so then I get super embarrassed by having to strip off to my underwear. Inevitably I'll have forgotten about the appointment when I've got dressed in the morning and so I will be wearing pants that aren't in a fit state to be viewed in public. Shame and back pain aren't a good combination.

  2. Ok, we are officially two Krysta's living parallel lives on opposite coasts! I kid you not I am working on a post wherein I describe my foray into the world of Chiropracty (not really a word I don't think) complete with massage therapy that makes you want to cry!

    But I have to say after a week of three therapy sessions I feel almost totally back to normal and am a total convert.

    And to speak to your question about tolerance for pain... after my first 30 min massage therapy session which left me unable to walk and thus in need of another back adjustment, my doctor advised every therpist from there on out that I needed the lightest massage therapy possible. So, um, I guess low.

    So glad you are back :)

  3. Helen, public pants... LOL... I was slightly surprised that you've been subjected to shame and back pain; I didn't even have to take off my cardigan sweater. I was, however, extremely disturbed that she would be adjusting my neck without being able to actually see my spine.

    Krysta, our lives are spookily similar at times! But you are definitely a younger, cuter version of Krysta.