Friday, September 24, 2010

The Zen Of Bed Rest And Dope

Last week I pinched a nerve in my neck. It was the worst episode of back spasms and shooting, electric-neck-pain that I have ever experienced. After something like 8 flights, 2 red eyes, 2 paddling excursions and a few hikes in a one week period, my body cried uncle. At it's worst, it took me twenty five minutes to move from laying down to standing. And the pain was so bad that it made me cry. I admit it, there were tears. When I visited my doctor the next day, she looked at me cross eyed and asked, "Why on earth didn't you go to the Emergency Room Dorien?" Yeah, that bad.

Having never been treated for this kind of thing before, I had no idea how many drugs were involved. I don't even take cold medicine when I'm sick so this was a huge leap of faith. After filling four prescriptions and a getting a shot of steroids in my arm, I headed home for my first real sleep in two days. It was a welcome bit of drug induced time off (and probably not far off from a coma). What I didn't realize was that our couch was where I was going to stay for the entire week. Here it is, in all it's splendor.

It took about seven days for me to return to normal. During that time my mind was so foggy with drugs and weak with pain that the only thing I really managed to do was figure out how to instantly watch Netflix movies on my TV. Oh, and eat. I ate like a pregnant woman (No Mom, not pregnant). One of the side effects of all the drugs, was my insatiable appetite. Which in and of itself is torture when you can't stand up long enough to make a decent meal and you're me, who cries inside ever time I microwave a Lean Cuisine. To top it all off there was dog hair everywhere, layers of dust and a shedding carpet. But for some reason, and yes it may have been the drugs, I just let it go. I didn't clean, I didn't really cook, I didn't obsess, I just sort of looked inside and worked on getting myself better.

Amazing. I have a hard time believing that I just wrote that and meant it.

The Husband was patient with me beyond measure, he never once tried to help me up (that hurt too much). He picked up tacos from Cinco De Mayo and Chinese soup from the place down the street. He fluffed my pillows and filled my water bottle. He even slept on the couch the first night so that his movement wouldn't send my back into spasms. And because I would rather spend my awake time with him in the living room (where I lived), we decided not to 'waste time' cleaning the kitchen (where I would normally live). This is what it looks like when we don't do the dishes for six days. Impressive huh? It went on in both directions...

Out of sight/out of mind. At least until day six, when I started feeling like myself, my ego returned and I tackled these bad boys in a drug free fever. I guess my Zen can only last so long.

After a good (and ginger) bout with the laundry, when I was finally able to wash my hair by myself, I took a look at my face in the mirror for the first time in almost a week. And I looked different. I'm not sure exactly what it was, maybe it was all the sleep. Maybe it was the break from caring about trivial things, giving up my need to do everything and do it now, or maybe it was all the eating and drugs. I don't know. But something about last week made my face lighter/calmer my eyes clearer.

My sister later confided in me that the times when her back goes out have been some of the most welcome moments of quiet contemplation in her life. Times when she was forced to rest and look inward, despite her career, husband and child. She said that she found herself feeling oddly grateful for that time off even with the pain that went with it. Once I started thinking about it, I realized that strangely enough, I am grateful for that time too. Even though, my doctor, husband and even myself seemed to be scared for my well being. Even though getting up to brush my teeth took almost a half an hour of electric shocks down my spine. Even though I had to take drugs that I wasn't that thrilled about. Even despite all of these things, I'm grateful for the perspective that this week of immobility has brought me. The pleasures of driving again, watering my garden, taking my dog for a walk, and picking up her wildly multiplying fur balls. The glory of making dinner. But, for all the things that I'm doing now, I'm trying to remember the rest too, the nothing part of it all that brought me the healing that I needed. Maybe everyday for just a little while, that's what I'll do. A little nothing, so that I can be better prepared for a life of everything.

Just a thought. Nothing really.


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