For some reason the term “massage” always makes me think of the above subject line from a Monty Python skit; then again, there are many things in my life that I end up equating to a Monty Python skit.
So this morning I eventually convinced myself that I either have the stomach flu or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or “I Be Shittin'” as I like to term it). I had a grande taco at Casa di Pico last night with refried beans and a margarita, plus lots of chips – so I’m supposed to avoid deep fried, fatty foods and alcohol if I really do have this thing going on. Ooopsie do. Small wonder that this morning I felt like someone was running an auger through my intestines. Ugh.
So, after that bit of “TMI”, we move onto my other problem area, namely my upper back. I have a tendency to store tension in my upper back and shoulders. Well, “store” isn’t really the right word. More like “charge dilithium crystals”. Or “hoard for the winter hibernation period”. Something like that. It’s not like I just stick something up there for awhile and take it out again. When my back gets tense, it stays tense, and then additional stress just kind of piles on top of it – brick by brick, row of mortar upon another, until a casual slap on my shoulder feels like you just slammed your palm into a wall. As usual, I avoid these issues until they start to cause serious distress, pain, or lack of sleep. So when I was awake at 4:00 am not only because of my intestinal troubles but also because my back was so stiff that I couldn’t find a single comfortable position to sleep in, I figured it was time to get myself in for a massage and get some of that stored up stuff out of there. Not all of it – heavens, that never happens. I’m not sure how I’d function if I ever got all the tension out of my back, I’d probably be goobering around like some boneless chicken.
Fortunately, Rachael, my favorite massage therapist whom I do not see nearly often enough, ended up with an opening for a massage from 1-3 pm … that’s right, a two-hour massage! She actually does three hour ones, too, which are pure bliss. No, I cannot afford the cost of this. But at a certain point, mental and physical health requires that some adjustments be made. Seeing Rachael is always a reminder of what my Aunt Jean would call the “woo-woo” factor of life. Rachael believes a lot in the woo-woo things – in affirmations, in spirituality, in the coincidences of the universe coming together in harmony and things just happening for a reason. She is a terrific lady. Me, I’m more of the “NOT” factor of life. Make me read a list of affirmations where I have to tell myself how much I love myself or how I deserve to be loved and am special and all this and I will end up projectile vomiting before I reach number 10, and that’s without anyone to hold my hair for me.
Hmmm, does anyone else here see a correlation between my, oh, perhaps occasionally negative attitude and my excessively tense back muscles? Definitely food for thought. But let’s not mention food because now I’m all stressed out about whether or not I have IBS and just what exactly I can and can’t eat if that is the case, so as to avoid triggering these episodes. No red meat, dairy, caffeine, fried foods, sweets, or alcohol. Well, just put me into a Ford Pinto and back me up into a wall already – talk about sucking the fun right out of life.
Okay, maybe I can make some concessions. I know fried food is bad for me anyway. I have been cutting out coffee anyway and can get by without it … but ohhh, the taste of a Starbucks Grande White Chocolate Mocha with a pump of caramel syrup! Sigh. Okay, I could save it for special occasions. And make sure I don’t have it by itself but have it with food so that it gets soaked up somehow before it makes my gastrointestinal nerves go all a-flutter. I can live with that. What? No donuts?? Okay, fuck it, the deal on the coffee is off.
Sigh. Getting older sucks. Realizing your body doesn’t have the same capabilities it did when you were 25 years younger is kind of a bummer. Realizing you didn’t take advantage of the capabilities your body had 25 years ago when you should have is also a bummer – in my case, running, jogging, walking, doing hurdles, hiking, anything that involved moving my knees. I actually used to enjoy running. Now sometimes I dread walking, and I’m only 46. Hopefully some physical therapy will help in the knee regard, but the joints are worn down and some things just don’t come back. I will probably be a candidate for knee replacement surgery in another 20 years if I make it that long. Maybe by then they’ll be bionic and I can run around like Lindsay Wagner and store my lunch in there as well.
So I’m home and it’s approaching bedtime. My back hurts. You’d think, “ha, guess the massage didn’t do much for you, did it?”. Quite the opposite. I can actually feel the rest of my back now instead of it being this stiff wall of pain – it moves now. My intent is to lie down on a heating pad after a couple glasses of wine and a pain pill (or two) from a good friend and we’ll see what the morning brings. I’ve found that I can only have so much tension released at any one time, because at a certain point, the stored up lactic acid from my stiff muscles ends up in my circulation and makes me feel ill. So it’s just as well to save some of it for later. Rachael reminded me that all of my thoughts and my tension are ultimately under my control – and she has a very valid point. It is I who chooses to be a stress puppy over the fact I don’t have a job or my unemployment checks are delayed or I can’t pay my mortgage. But then I start thinking, “well, who the hell wouldn’t be stressed? ARGH!!” But she’s right. I could see the good in it, all the extra time I have at home, and make a plan to use my time more productively, say, spend 4 hours a day working on the job search, cover letters, networking, calls, emails, etc., and spend the rest of it doing stuff around the house and the yard that I need to do and always complain I don’t have time for when I’m working. I can spend more time playing with my kids when they’re here. Or hanging out with my cats. Going to the beach and working on a tan. Taking leisurely, knee-braced walks around my neighborhood and trying to drop a few pounds.
Most of all, I could use the time to stop coming up with excuses.