Yesterday was one of those days on which everything I tried to do seemed destined to be a failure and made me cry.
Indulge me; this is going to come across as another post of complaints. I write it because I’m sure some of you can relate, and that makes it a little better for all of us, yes?
For the last several months, I’ve been dealing with significant lower back issues. It started when I threw it out in March, not for the first time, but definitely the worst time. I have no love for chiropractors, but it seems I will have to go see one. Art the Indistinguishably Asian Massage Therapist said to me on my last visit, “You don’t trust a doctor, but you trust someone like me?”
Not a comfort to hear from a guy whose hands have been all over your naked body for the last 90 minutes.
Point is, the back issue is making it harder and harder for me to do anything productive, or, you know, not. Lay on the couch and watch a movie? Nope. Sit on the couch and watch a movie? Nah. Sit in a chair? No. Drive to work and back? Not without pain. Get out of the car? Oh, fun visual for anyone who happens to see it. Get out of bed? It’s a process. Put pants on? We’re damned lucky I’ve been clothed for the last 10 months.
Anyway, it’s better if I’m moving, and I had stuff to do at home yesterday so I figured I’d make it work. But a couple of things wound up making it harder. For instance: the cat peed on the guest room floor, for reasons she still has not explained, and got the bed’s dust ruffle, too. So the dust ruffle had to come off to be washed.
You know how hard it is to flip a mattress by yourself?
There was no way I was going to be able to get the mattress off the bed. I’ve done it before, but it wasn’t going to happen this time. So I had to settle for attempting to lift the mattress just enough here and there to pull the dust ruffle out from under it. It sounds like a perfectly feasible plan, but it wasn’t working. After several minutes of trying to nudge the mattress up and pull, I was about 15% done and the dust ruffle was stuck. A few more attempts yielded no result. I tried a different approach to little effect. My back wasn’t making it easier, and on top of that, the bending and lifting wasn’t helping the acid reflux I’ve battled of late.
At one point, squatting next to the bed, I really did put my head on it and cry.
I wasn’t crying from pain. It was frustration and fear. I wonder how many people, at the age of 34, feared for their future because of their present. Maybe a lot, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it lately. I am, indeed, too damned young and too damned healthy to have to eat boring, bland food and do stretches every hour just to get my body to function. I don’t understand why it’s happening, but frankly, it scares me. What will I do if things continue on this track? If I just keep getting worse? Will I be one of those sad old women who can’t do anything, stuck in her house all the time? Will that happen sooner than later?
And of course, I’ll be broke, because there will be no social security and I will have been trapped in a career that paid well enough to handle the bills and food but not well enough to buy real estate on my own that would (allegedly) earn me some money for later. The market has done very little to increase my IRA or 401(k) since 2008 – what if that continues, too? I will have spent too many years getting older in a windowless basement, nights and weekends, never able to retire, only forced to stop working by disability. Living somewhere that’s filthy because I’m physically unable to clean it and financially unable to hire someone. With no one to take care of me.
Yup. That’s where all this went in my head. What started as an additional load of laundry ended up an existential debate about my life.
Don’t you love it when that happens?
I never hear anybody talk about this stuff. It happens to people, but nobody talks about being afraid it will happen to them. I suppose that’s either because I’m a crazy neurotic freak and nobody else goes down these roads, or it’s because everyone figures the same thing I ultimately figure when I do: that’s life. Independence is a great thing when your body allows you to be independent, but when it doesn’t, you start to realize: this is why people got married back in the day, and had lots of kids. It wasn’t for love. It was so someone else was around to help with the hard stuff.
And back then, you died at 50. I’m starting to see why.
Thank God my brain works in circles, because just as I started feeling very Grapes of Wrath about the whole thing, that thought led me to this one: okay, so you’re falling apart, and you’ve got this other person around, but they’re falling apart, same as you. Fat lot of good that does you both. Now neither of you can get the dust ruffle off the bed, at least one of you is laid out on the floor and the other can’t do anything to help, and you wind up getting rid of the cat because it’s the easier solution.
Not better. Just a misery loves company situation.
I am, before you laugh at me (or after), very well aware that the reflux might yet go away (six more days of the OTC stuff, and then, I promise, I’ll go to the doctor if it’s not gone) and a chiropractor might be able to help me with the stupid problems I’ve had for nearly 20 years. I am very well aware that I do not suffer nearly as mightily as many others. I am aware that I am mostly able-bodied despite having a back that cries for massive doses of ibuprofen and a gut that won’t allow it. But I’m also aware that I’ve got a ways to go (quite possibly) and it’s a scary thought sometimes.
Yesterday, though, after I cried with my head on the bed for about fifteen seconds, I just got really mad and got the damned dust ruffle off. And then I spent a while in the icy chill of high winter winds trying to get the Christmas tree that’s been lying out on the balcony for a week out of the stand that it had apparently grown fond of, over the balcony railing and down a block to its rightful post-Christmas place. Despite the challenges, I got stuff done. Because that’s life.
But I can’t say when that dust ruffle will be back on that bed.