When the pandemic shut the swimming pools i became a fish out of water... going back four years to the week that was the Night of the Living Back Spasm followed a few days later by Pops telling me that he had cancer, it was later that summer when i began dragging myself to the pool to strengthen my back, swimming being the absolute best thing for someone with a shite back. I spent the next almost two years improving my distance and times in the water with the goal being that on the day my father died, May 16, i would swim two miles straight. Nothing out of the ordinary for a real swimmer but an accomplishment for a reformed wastoid who had given up the booze (not entirely) and again started down the road (though i never really got off that road, lol!) of cannabis and psychedelics. When lockdown hit and i was stuck in the house i turned to yoga and running and then slowly stopped the yoga, a mistake, but kept right on running. The result was that just last week i got on the scale to find out i was actually the same weight i was when i graduated from college. At 51 i weighed the same as i did at 22, which here in the land of fast food and cubicle living was something of an anomaly.
When the Breadwinner decided that her fat paychecks should stop funding certain things, like the boyos athletic endeavors, though she would dispute this fact, i was (not so) gently shoved into the gig economy. Shopping for the wealthy or the elderly or the whoever, it's a gig i don't actually mind, mainly because i'm on my own and get to listen to music most of the day. It's taught me to motivate myself a bit more because it's really easy to say, fuck it!, when one does not have a boss lording over them but then again i sort of do have one of those types lording over me she just likes to go by a different name. The job was active, my lunch was often smoothies loaded with spinach and kale, yes it sounds disgusting but these things are fucking delicious, and i kept myself in pretty good shape... except of course for the back which over time i could feel was getting a bit wonky. Granted i could have cut down the running or been more diligent with my exercises but i am many things if not a fucking idiot.
One of the biggest culprits of my shite lower back is the car, car seats not being made for people my height and with the I-mac being run all over the Rust Belt to play the footie i spent a lot of time driving recently. So after three separate trips last weekend (brought on by the Breadwinner not wanting to spend money an a hotel which i find rather comical since i cover all travel and footie related expenses) of around four hours round trip, Fri-Sat-Sun, i woke up Monday feeling decent and headed off to the gig. I had a fat and juicy batch, not a difficult one but one that paid well and it was during this batch as i reached down to the lowest shelf to grab some tortillas that i felt it. The low back muscles pulling, the hitch that develops and the fine line i was walking before i was laying in the middle of an Aldi writhing on the floor in pain and screaming. I immediately jammed my hand into my back and gingerly made my way to the car, talking to myself, breathing and trying to relax knowing the last place i needed my back to go was in the car. I drove home, ate some weed pills, some ibuprofen, grabbed the ice pack and laid down. I was fucked.
And here is where one finds out their worth in the relative eyes of that boss lording over you and what i found out rather quickly was my worth, in my current state, wasn't much. That i was most definitely the servant around here and what good is a servant who can't serve. With our hero down for the count the normal day to day running of this place fell to the Breadwinner and she was none to pleased. In fact i heard many a diatribe over the next few days about how much she was doing and how hard it was which was interesting seeing as all she was doing was the stuff i do every day... usually while she napped. Suddenly someone had to cook, get the boyos to school and practice, take care of pets, do laundry, do dishes, clean and go to work. Granted the BW started working 2-3 hour days and since she's the owner no one can really say jack shit. This gave her ample time to come home, get her nap, and then get on with the day, meaning doing all the shit i normally do.
Now if we peruse back through the lounge you'll find that on the Night of the Living Back Spasm the BW tallied up the cost and decided there was no need for medical attention but that i could take the internet remedy she so lovingly found and gut it out. My how times have changed. After the first day i was bombarded with demands i see a doctor, that i get back in the pool, that i get a cortisone shot, asked how soon i'd be back to normal, all the while being regaled with what a hero she was for picking up my slack. I replied there was no need to see a doctor as i already knew how to handle it (smirk), that i wanted to get back in the pool but that was advised not to yet by my doc due to the pandemic (now it's good and i'll be back in asap) and that a cortisone shot does nothing to remedy the problem but would mask the pain enough to get me back to work and might be the hands down worst thing one can do for my current condition. In the end it hurts more than helps. My favorite comment from the boss was that i might not be able to work until next week to which i politely responded it might be more like next month, though i did add at least i'd be able to start doing more around the house, albeit gradually.
And so a week later though the back isn't in any way in great shape it has recovered enough for me to drive the boyos to school and practice and anywhere else they need to go, it has recovered enough for me to to do a little bit around the house, and while it still isn't great i'm taking great care to keep it as rested as possible which means sometimes i say "i'm done" and lay down and rest it. At some point this week i'll go to the local fitness joint where i'll hand over the company credit card as i call it and bill the BW for my rehab in the pool. Yet the funny thing is i can see what's coming. Right now there is the general relief that i can now resume some of my normal duties around the place but i'm guessing within the next 3-5 days or so the questions about me going back to work will begin to creep into the conversation. Anyone who has ever had a back back knows that the most important thing is rest followed by the slow strengthening of it, there is no way to rush it and if one tries they end up worse off than they did when it started. I'll do my best to return to the gig and all my chores on my own schedule. At this point i'm used to the barbs and it was good to see the boyos helping to pick up the slack.
The thing is, while one is basically stuck on the couch-bed, every movement causing anything from a dull ache to a shooting pain, one has time to think about things. There were a couple of days where those dark clouds grew so dark i wondered where the dawn went. I thought about the state i was in and how little compassion or empathy came my way... not the i deserved or needed it but it was just a Will Smith level slap in the face about just how broken things are around these parts and it really brought into stark and crystal clear view just how i'm viewed by certain people. My boy Disaster spent a lot of time giving me hugs and doing what i asked and i explained to both the boyos to help out their mother and that by doing that they were helping me as well. They got it. They know what i do around here and i saw the appreciation from both of them once it sunk in. But the truth was that as i lay on the couch-bed i was a mess, my eyes often filling with tears as i realized how fucked things are, how i really am nothing more than a personal assistant, had i been able to be fired and shown the door i probably would have been. There are truths that are never easy and we can choose to ignore them or face them even when they cause us pain and suffering. The stoic, the Buddhist, the arm-chair philosopher, we know these things are only permanent if we let them be, the reality is they are all temporary and there are always those cracks where the light gets in.
I look forward to that feeling of gliding through the water again, i will work to improve and maintain the discipline i need to keep the back healthy. I understand that the words will be wielded but that those words are just a facade from someone unwilling to face the truth, someone who doesn't understand how to be happy. There are times when i would like to try and help but i also understand just how damaged things are and that sometimes we have to admit failure, that no matter what we do we will not be able to fix things... and it's an interesting feeling that as i began to accept these things that those tears began to dry up. Things are as they are and sometimes to just be, to do nothing, is the most noble thing one can do.