Friday, June 10, 2011

Where in the World Was Lynn?

I haven't been here, on Facebook, Twitter or anyplace else for a while. So where have I been?

I'd love to tell you cruising the Caribbean, but the truth is that since the first of April I've been at the chiropractor 3 times a week. I have 4 pinched nerves in my back. Possibly more. My lumbar spine is so smashed together that neither my chiropractor nor the radiologist that read my x-rays can tell how many for sure.

I'd also love to tell you I did this bungee jumping or playing polo, but no -- I fell down our front steps in January while I was shoveling snow. Eight-inches of white stuff that hid 2-inches of ice underneath -- which of course I didn't see until I'd cleared the snow.

I was happily shoveling my way down the steps with the little blue plastic shovel that our grandson Zachery used when he was five. About the time I decided that I should probably be shoveling UP rather than DOWN, I realized I was standing on solid ice.

A half-second later my husband Michael, who was shoveling the drive with a really big shovel that looks like it belongs on the front end of a snowplow hollered at me, "Get off those steps!"

The power of suggestion was all it took. My feet shot out from under me and I bounced down five ice-crusted concrete steps on my tailbone. When I landed at the bottom, I jumped to my feet to make sure Michael hadn't seen my Three Stooges descent.

He hadn't, thank God; his back was turned.

Astonishingly, I could move, and I wasn't in screaming agony so I kept shoveling as far up the flight as I could without climbing the steps until Michael finished the drive and took over.

The possibility that I'd pinched 4 nerves and that was why my back didn't hurt, never occurred to me. That is a special kind of stupid. I should have known better.

When I was 14 I went sideways off a horse (I wasn't playing polo then, either) knocked myself cold and crushed a disc between my shoulder blades.

Then I grew up and became a writer. Lots of writers have back problems because we sit all day. The last time my back went kaflooie I was racing to finish Honeymoon Suite. I could do anything but sit. I ended up at a sports medicine doctor.

Post MRI he diagnosed the problem as occupational stress -- sitting on my fanny at a computer for 20-plus years. He told me that fixed keyboard trays should be banned because they keep you in the same position all day long. He recommended voice recognition software and a really good chair.

I bought the chair that you see in the photo. It's unoccupied because I haven't been in it. The arms adjust up and down or forward and back. The seat goes up and down, too.

The platform on the front of my desk is an incremental keyboard tray. This is its highest position. I can stand and type at this height, when I can stand; I'll get to that in a minute. I can also lower it nearly to the floor. It adjusts incrementally, which means I can move it an inch or two or just a hair. That's all it takes to change my position.That's a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic keyboard.

The chair and the incremental keyboard tray got me through Honeymoon Suite, but they were no help this time.

The pain started in my knees in March. Silly me, I thought the problem was my knees. I loaded up on MSM with Glucosamine, but within a week I could barely stand, let alone walk. The dinner plate size bruise on the left side of my fanny had faded, but my back still didn't hurt. I went to the chiropractor anyway on April third, he took x-rays, showed me where the nerves were likely pinched, and I've been on his table 3-times a week ever since.

On Tuesday I posted about the release of Once Struck. That's the first day I've been able to sit in my really good chair for more than 10 minutes. Until then the most comfortable position for me was lying down or leaning against a wall or the kitchen counters. I could sit on the couch for 20 minutes, the recliner for 5, a kitchen chair for maybe 10. I was like Goldilocks; too hard, too soft.

I'm back now, but I'm taking it slow, not overdoing it. Look for my new weekly blog series "The Story Behind the Story" beginning on Monday, June 13.

What's the lesson I learned from this experience? Listen to the guy with the big shovel.

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