Mystery Back Pain and Other Tales

Toxic Time

I’ve been feeling pretty toxic lately; everything’s been making me mad.  I was mad at my French students for not understanding French question formation, I was mad at my Spanish class for not being able to sing a melody.  I was mad at the textbook for being error oriented rather that communicative.  I was mad at my friends for getting tired before midnight, mad that Seattle bartenders don’t know what a pickleback is, mad at the lack of imagination people have when they choke at the idea of a pickleback (because the truth is I’ve never seen anyone not enjoy it).  I was mad that it was raining.  I was mad that I didn’t have a printer when I was in grad school.  I was mad that I don’t have a couch.  I was mad at my mystery back pain.

This was all in a span of a couple days.

I used to have a friend that was really good at snapping me out of the toxic haze, at least temporarily.  Sometimes it was a ridiculous distraction, sometimes it was a simple reminder that my problems are not that bad.  But anyway that was a long time ago and in another country.  When I realized how mad I still was about not having a printer in grad school fifteen years ago, I thought, wow, I’m on my own.

So I decided to focus on one thing and do something about it, for once.

What  I chose was this:  I hate getting clothes as a gift.  HATE.  There are several reasons that I don’t care to get into; suffice it to say I hate getting clothes as a gift.  Not a joke.  And I know how ungrateful that sounds, but I’m 38 and I don’t care anymore.  Other people would feel the same way about getting a new vacuum cleaner, or an apron.  I hate getting clothes as a gift so much.

The problem is, it’s hard to explain to other people, and I know I sound ungrateful.  So I’ve struggled with trying to be nice about it.

But that’s over now.  I’m 38.  If I sound cruel and ungrateful then I accept it.  I’m a cruel and ungrateful person.  I’m tired of hiding it.  I’m going to do something about it.

I made “I hate getting clothes as a gift” my facebook status for a day.  I’m writing about it in this post.  I’ve considered printing a t-shirt.  I’m going public.

Of course this attracted a bunch of jokers saying “oh, I just bought you some socks” and haha we all had a good laugh.  But I have resolved:  people are going to know I hate receiving clothes as a gift, and now that it’s public, I’m not going to pretend anymore.

Did I mention I’ve been feeling toxic lately?

This past summer I was staying at an auntie’s house, and I asked casually what gift I should bring my friend’s son, who was in kindergarten.  “Kindergarten?” she asked, “give him clothes.”  I love my auntie, but I thought, woman how many years have you lived on this earth and you still don’t know that little boys hate getting clothes?  Her next suggestion was “backpack” and I had to end that conversation.  I’m really bad at getting gifts, I don’t like to shop, and I have a hard time trying to choose a thoughtful gift, but I honestly I could not if I tried think of a worse gift for a little boy in kindergarten than 1) clothes and 2) a backpack.

I wanted to get him something he could do with his dad.  I got him a kite.

Mystery Back Pain

There’s a pain in my back… lower back… actually it’s more like my upper butt.  It’s actually my butt-crack bone, the bone inside there.  The pain was so sharp, I thought it might be the bone itself, but an X-ray showed nothing.  Later I realized that sitting made it throb, and since bones don’t throb, I figured it was a ligament or tendon thing.  Tendinitis of the butt-crack, I thought.  The doc and the X-Ray technician weren’t all that entertained by my terminology.

When I went public with my mystery back pain, I got private emails from everyone I knew; all of them recommended a different therapy:  PT, yoga, stretching, drugs, acupuncture, cupping, pain killers…  I heard it all, and from every single person, different advice.

So there’s no pain when I’m standing or walking.  It throbs a little when I’m seated or driving, and when I try to get up from a seat or get up out of my car, it stops me.  I have to use my arms to lift myself out of the chair, I can’t just stand up like regular people.

So I decided I needed to know why my back was hurting first, before I attempted anything, and none of the suggestions offered a good explanation; they would either just treat the symptoms or start me doing exercises, which–think about it–if you don’t know why your back is hurting, maybe moving it in ways it’s not used to is a terrible idea.  I need a diagnosis before anything else.

So today I ended up at a chiropractor, which may be totally fake, but I’m not going to rule out the placebo effect, so shut up.  The chiropractor noticed immediately that my left leg was shorter than my right, and guessed that I had had some pain in my hip.  Correct.  He also did a couple of phony scans that measured heat and muscle activity, and to my delight, the phony scans correctly identified sore areas, both the ones I had told him about and the ones I didn’t tell him about.  I was throughly entertained.

He cracked my spine in six different ways and sent me on my way.  He says that the adjustments will nudge my spine and hip back into alignment and the pain will go away.  I thought, ok, I’ll give it a try.  It’s better than starting drugs or PT without a diagnosis.  I’d like to try acupuncture, just because it seems cool, but again, I don’t want to just treat the pain, I want the cause of the pain to be eliminated.

Oh, and the chiropractor is covered mostly by my insurance.  So even if it doesn’t work, I can look forward to a few months of fun spine cracking, at least.

Hot Wings

I went with Y to Monday night hot wings at the WingDome.  It’s been years since I last went to that place, and even though I had leftovers at home (radish kimchi pork roast, pesto smashed red potatoes, autumn dressing with wild rice and apples), I wanted to be out.  With adults.

The game was Houston vs. Baltimore.  They weren’t showing Giants at Vikings which had been rescheduled to tonight because, well by now everyone has seen the video.

I had the 4-alarm wings, and they were much, much less hot than I remember.  I almost asked for hot sauce.

On the way out I ran into a couple of former students; brothers.  To my surprise, I was not annoyed at seeing former students… You might even say I was glad to see them!  Nice kids.

And now I’m home, ostensibly to write a worksheet.  But instead I find myself writing toxically about how toxic I’ve been feeling.

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