Monday, December 28, 2009

Some Muscle Pain with a Side of Whining

"After great pain, a formal feeling comes. The Nerves sit ceremonious, like tombs."
~ Emily Dickinson

(Note: Today's blog consists entirely of narcissism and whining.)

It rained on December 26th in New York City, sometimes in a slow and steady drip and sometimes in heavy, soaking showers. The new-fallen rain transformed the mounds of snow still piled along the city's curbsides initially to slush and finally to water. Lots of water. Great, backyard-pool-sized ponds of the stuff wherever the ground dipped. Around my car, for example.

For Divinipotent Daily, December 26th was a soggy day of shoving laundry bags and grocery sacks into the trunk of my car and then wrestling them out again. Due to the ponds, this often required balancing awkwardly off to one side to avoid drowning. The result: all errand missions were accomplished, but at the cost of one sorely pulled one upper arm muscle.

Which one? This much is certain: It is not the Triceps, because like most women, I have no Triceps. After consulting Wikipedia, I am fairly certain that the muscle in question is the Deltoid. If not, then surely it is the mysterious Brachialis
or the even more mysterious Biceps Brachii. The last two muscles are completely new parts of the anatomy to me; they sound like species of dinosaur.

"I just use my muscles as a conversation piece, like someone walking a cheetah down 42nd Street."
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

It always surprises me that, after all these years, I am still discovering uncharted parts of my own body. This last happened in 2005, when I was diagnosed with a (benign) spinal tumor. Prior to surgery, the main symptoms were increasing stiffness and the sensation of warm water running down the top of my right thigh, which taught me a little lesson about the ways the nerves of spinal column divide up their work. After surgery, once the morphine wore off, the one and only sensation was that of having a flame thrower inserted into my spine. I had no idea the body could feel like that. It was pain of sufficient greatness to fit Emily Dickinson's description.

In my current situation, Ms. Dickinson's description is reassuring, because it reminds me that I am not in great pain. My nerves are neither standing nor sitting on ceremony. They are instead producing big, ouch-inducing, short-lived twinges at unexpected moments. The surprise-attack aspect fills me with equal parts forbearance and laziness. My upbringing by a somewhat Spartan-like mother makes me want to face down pain with a steady, steely-eyed gaze. But at the same time, I am a wimp, I want to do nothing that might hurt.

"My eye muscles hurt now when I read our MasterCard bill."
~ Geoffrey Rush


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