Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Upright Citizens

Here's an interesting article in the new National Geographic about how walking on two legs is the root of all evil. Well, almost. "The Downside of Upright" claims that it is downright impossible for us humans to walk upright! Yet walk upright we do; *ahem* some of us more than others. The article states that the plethora of back, knee and hip difficulties, as well as the risks of childbirth suffered by us bipedals could be largely avoided if we gave up the whole "free hands" thing, grew our arms longer and walked on all fours. Our spinal column originally evolved as an arch, not the weight bearing column it acts as now.
... the lower region of the [vertebral] column suffers from the excessive pressure and oblique force exerted on its curved structure by our upright posture.

In my case, and how.

Basically, the vertebrae in the back are wedge shaped, this shape being most pronounced in the lower back. These wedges, along with the "S" curves in our spines (developed in response to an upright posture) and with the discs in between the vertebrae, is what allows us to flex and twist and bend.

In my case, at least one of my lumbar discs is narrowing at the front, causing me to pitch forward. The cause of the narrowing, is of course, Degenerative Disc Disease, which I already knew, but it doesn't make standing upright any easier for me, in fact, it's downright impossible.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flatback Syndrome

This is why I can't stand up straight. Lovely.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It’s been six months to the day that I’ve been cooped up with “the back” and I find myself falling further and further away from what I want my life to be like. It is not just that I can’t get around well and feel so limited and exhausted by everything, it is as if I really can’t do anything, or maybe rather, why should I bother with anything?

Oh, yes, I still manage to get a shower every day (it is quite a production and so takes up a good chunk of time and I’m a big fan of anything that passes the time) and clean up the kitchen and start dinner just about every night, but I’m not enjoying any of these things as much as I used to. I spend a large part of the day now surfing around on line and watching TV, even though I hate to admit this. I’d like to write more, study German, learn to draw, but then there’s that nagging, “why bother?” Part of me maybe feels like whatever I try is going to be half assed and limited, the way my body is now, and if it is, well, then, I’ll feel even worse.

I feel really sorry for my husband, who gets to come home from work and finish whatever tasks I’ve started and tired out before completing (putting laundry away, emptying the dishwasher, finish cooking dinner), plus everything else he has to do (walk the dog, take out the trash, clean up after dinner) and then wait on me cause by nighttime I’m usually done in, worn out, and having a lot of trouble moving in any way from trying to physically, literally, hold myself up all day. Besides, with him here, it’s even easier to say, “why bother?”

Today, I imagined the doctor’s office calling and saying that they wanted to schedule the surgery. I thought about them saying it would be in four weeks and I fantasized that I said, “Well, it’s a long way off, but at least I know there’s an end in sight and I can start planning.” I was excited in this daydream, and happy, even though I was scared and dreading being cut open again. The mood in my mind seemed to match the clear sunny sky outside and the warm hydrangea-scented air coming in the window; hopeful and smelling of promise.

The afternoon turned hotter, stickier, and I had to rouse myself long enough to put the air conditioning on. I tried to return to the fantasy, to the imagined phone call that made me so happy, but it was too late; sharp, frigid air was flooding the room, replacing the soft sweet breeze that smelled like something good would finally happen. I guess I could have closed my eyes, and tried harder, but why bother?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Things I’m going to do when this is over:

1. Wear high heels. A lot.
I’m gonna teeter around in a dainty way and shift my hips ever so slightly to and fro and admire the heck out of the muscles in my calves and look at how nice and slim my ankles are. Plus, I’m sick of sneakers.

2. Go to a store and shop (maybe in high heels). See also #1.
I’m tired of ordering Q-tips and moisturizer from Drugstore.com. Yesterday I ordered new sneakers from Amazon because the mere thought of going over to the Sports Authority or Paragon exhausted me. (I went with Tyler to Century 21 on Memorial Day. Big mistake. We left in tears. Both of us. Ok, not really, but it was pretty bad, packed with rude people from the outer boroughs or somewhere not civilized where I can only assume no one uses canes because I had mine kicked out from under me more times than I can count by some fatass on their way to buying an XXL golf shirt).

3. Walk Tony (maybe in high heels). See also #1
Our dog walker is great. Her name is Shirly and she comes everyday at 3PM to take Tony to the dog park. I miss going there with him; miss laughing at his antics and miss seeing his pure dog-joy when he’s playing with all his dog-friends. If only we humans had some equivalent to being let off a leash and running around romping for an hour.

4. Walk. A lot. Maybe in high heels! See also #1
I’m tired of having to take cabs everywhere because walking the two blocks to the subway is just too far. Even going around the corner to 10th and 23rd to catch the crosstown bus to go to the subway is a trek.

5. Go back to NYSC at 8th Ave. I froze my membership there and joined the gym in my building since it is just around the corner. The London Terrace Health Club is fine, just fine. They have pretty good equipment and it is never crowded when I go (midday, midweek). But the ceilings are low and there aren’t a lot of windows and they don’t have the seated leg press machine I like (and can use) and they don’t have the individual TVs at each cardio machine. I miss Jerry Springer and all the bad VH1 documentaries and reality shows I used to watch while pedaling away and raising my heart rate into my target zone. I only joined the gym here for three months, cause hopefully within three months I’ll be having the surgery. *I still can’t get over the fact that I can exercise but I can’t walk or stand up straight without panting from exhaustion.* Weird, huh?

6. Dress nicer. I live in yoga pants (cause they’re easy to get up and down after going to the bathroom with one hand while leaning on the cane with the other) and those camisoles with the built-in bra (cause they’re comfortable and the last thing I need with everything else is some underwire cutting into me, especially now that my ribs are really prominent) and socks and slippers. Sometimes not even slippers! When I go “out” I might put on jeans and sneakers, or a pair of flats, but honestly, I just switched winter for summer clothes this weekend and realized I hadn’t worn *anything* nice since January.

7. See #1