Yesterday afternoon I couldn’t get off the couch. When I say I couldn’t get off the couch, I don’t mean I was so tired or depressed that I couldn’t will myself off it, I mean I physically could not get off the couch. My lower back had been sore, so I’d lain down on my right side for half an hour to rest, and when I tried to sit upright my back screamed, “NO! YOU CANNOT DO THAT!!” in the form of intense, sharp pain.
I gave it a few minutes and tried again with similar results, which is when I started to wonder how long I would be stuck on the couch. I felt like I’d need to pee in an hour or two, and eventually I would get hungry and thirsty, and if my cat wasn’t fed that night I’m sure I’d hear about it with paw prints all over my face. So if I couldn’t get up within a few hours, I would have to call for help. My phone was on the side table at the opposite end of the couch, but I was fairly certain I could grab it with my toes if I was careful. But even if I could call someone, the door was locked, and I had no way of unlocking it from the couch, so I would have to call the apartment complex’s office and ask them to give someone a spare key. And which one of my friends would I call about this embarrassing situation, anyway?
It’s shocking how quickly I had become so helpless, and how that helplessness had turned my life into a puzzle I had to solve. I felt bad for every time I’d laughed at those Lifecall ads from the 80’s with an old lady who says, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Not being able to get up is really awful.
I was lying on my right side, so I grabbed onto the back of the couch with my left hand and tried to pull myself up using just my arm strength, but was greeted with the same sharp back pains. Next I grabbed some pillows and a comforter and stuffed them under my right side, which righted me enough that I was now halfway sitting up at a 45 degree angle to the couch.
This is when I decided I’ve have to force my way through the pain and sit up, no matter how excruciating it was. I am well acquainted with pain. I’ve had a headache for seven and a half years, and I survived a nine-hour gallbladder attack a decade ago. So, I knew I could handle the pain if necessary. However, this scenario was a bit different because I was the agent of the pain, causing it by moving, and when you’re doing something that hurts your first instinct is to stop doing that. I thought about martial artists who are able to break boards by swiftly and confidently hitting them with their hands, and OOOMPF! I was finally sitting up.
I rested for several minutes before moving the end table in front of me to use for support as I hauled myself off the couch, again with a swift and confident movement, and amazingly I was standing up! It only took me 30 minutes. I was then able to hobble to the medicine cabinet to take some ibuprofen and then iced my back once every hour for the next few hours. I’ve never in my life so desperately wished I could pee standing up, but thankfully I was able to relieve myself without getting stuck in the bathroom.
I’m feeling better today, but it definitely still hurts, so I don’t think I’ll be back to normal for another few days. Sadly, I think the reason I hurt my back is because I sit so much during the day doing my web design work. In the past two weeks I’ve made an effort to stand and walk more during the day to strengthen those muscles and I must have overdone it. I really should start doing Pilates again.
I injured my back once in my teens when I was helping my dad move a radial arm saw and another time in my twenties when I (swear to God) rolled over in bed. So this seems to be something that happens to me every 10 years. It’s also one more thing that makes me feel like my body is slowly breaking down and that my best years physically are behind me. Aging has made me a wiser and more confident person mentally, but when it comes to my body, getting older sucks.