I have experienced back pain for as long as I can remember. The pain centers on my upper back, shoulders, neck, and jaw. My TMJ has resulted in a bite-plate lost somewhere in my closet, and a long trail of failed dentists. When I am happier, my jaw feels better. It’s an easy equation.
My back, however, is not simply a matter of stress. For about ten years, my upper back has been a mess of knots, pulls, and strung out nerves. It could have been the car accident in 2001, when my best friend flipped her tiny Mazda over into a pile of rocks, or the time in 1994 I fell out of that same friend’s second floor window onto a hard pile of mulch. It could be the double D’s I carry on a five foot three frame, or the posture I’ve taken on to hunch over. There’s the way I slump over the ubiquitous keyboard that has been under my hands since my first hp 386, or the handbag that must, absolutely must, carry reading materials.
More than likely, it’s my desk job: the crappy, wobbly chair that was built to comfortably seat a 250 pound 6 foot two man, the crappy 14 inch monitor, the keyboard raised so high it strains my wrists…
So I’ve been in pain for years. How shitty is that? I rarely have a day my back doesn’t hurt. Maybe it’s why I drink as often as I do. I shudder to think the amount of times I’ve gladly gone for happy hour after a particularly painful writing session. I have no problem popping muscle relaxers or vicodin or ativan — anything to help calm my back. I will melt into putty the second a boy offers me a massage.
(Too much back story, I know.)
Today something snapped. The pain is radiating from my back, starting at my shoulder and sending shock waves down my arm, snapping into my wrist, and pooling in my thumb. The whole hand is pins and needles, half numb, weak, and somewhat burning.
It hurts to write, which is unfair and cruel and bullshit. That’s my job. And it’s my fucking love. Take it away, and I am useless. I am the other kind of putty.
The agony is embarassing, because you can’t even see it. I wish body pain were bloody, because I think my coworkers think of me as a whiny brat. And I am. But I usually only tear up when things get too excuciating to bare. And I’ve hit the breaking point.
It’s taken too long to write this. It’s taken hours, tiny little bursts, which has made this fragmented and lame. Moreso than usual.
As if the pain wasn’t bad enough.