Slow down, you move too fast

You likely can’t tell by my lack of recent writings, but I am a go-go-go person, always in motion, either on my way somewhere, or actively doing something. I have a demanding job, and a kid, and friends, and hobbies… and if that weren’t enough, I’m a club officer for my local Toastmasters club. This next six months, it appears I will be fulfilling not one, but two roles – VP of Public Relations (a title I’ve held for the last two years) and VP of Education, the office just below that of President.

This past New Year’s Day, I made the resolution that approximately 95 percent of the people I know make on the first of the year: get back into shape. Like some kind of masochist, I’ve been poring through nutrition websites for everyone from bodybuilders to vegans (and vegan bodybuilders) and reviews on Amazon for products such as Nike+ Kinect. I’ve also been seriously considering trying Insanity, which I own on DVD and which nearly killed me, in a manner of speaking, once again. Yeahhhhhh…

Then IT happened. I had just arrived at work on Thursday and was attempting to stretch when I heard and felt an odd disconcerting “pop”, followed by the sensation of my lower back muscles spasming and, finally, a lot of pain. Pain I haven’t quite ever felt before, as if that part of my back was swiftly torn in two like a sheet of paper.

Once, when my son was a baby, I’d attempted to pick him up while he was in his carseat (and weighing upwards of 30 pounds) and lifted with my back rather than my legs. That had resulted in spasms in my upper back which subsided after a few minutes. This was different. I made it through the work day, occasionally trying to stretch out the knot and grimacing every time, but by the end of the day I could barely walk, let alone anything else. I called off my plans to visit a friend that night and tucked myself gingerly into bed.

“I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel. I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.” – Nine Inch Nails

By yesterday morning, I realized I was going to be essentially non-functional for at least a day or two. I asked my friends on Facebook for their input, knowing my mom (who’s an RN) would likely have some good advice, and revised my immediate January resolution to a much more subdued one than I’d planned.

As yesterday and last night wore on, I likened myself to Bruce Lee, who spent months laid up before rising to prominence, stronger than ever… eh, who am I kidding? I’m a webmaster, not a martial arts master. My back is vital to me, but only as a support system for my right hand and brain.

Still, I am going to care for myself and see this as the mixed blessing it is: a chance to rejuvenate and truly listen to my body, rather than attempt to rush through things, risking permanent damage. Others I know have received similar wake-up calls. One former boss developed pneumonia. Another ended up hospitalized hours after I’d noticed in a meeting that morning that dude didn’t look so well. It’s a well-worn tale and a lesson everyone seems to know intellectually but which rarely seems to portend lasting positive change.

I intend to listen this time, and trade one resolution for another. After all, aren’t most New Year’s resolutions variations on a theme – to care for ourselves better than in years past? To recognize as precious the fragile gift of our bodies, and treat them with more respect than our material possessions?

It’s possible my torn/sprained/strained/pulled (pending a visit to the Dr) back muscle is nothing more than a reminder not to let my quest to “get ‘er done” get in the way of my overall well-being. A subtle plea from my body to me to be kind to myself.

A resolution I hadn’t realized I needed to make.

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One Response to Slow down, you move too fast

  1. Pingback: The black dog | Personal Essays

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