Back to Class

“Ohhh, my back is killing me…”

Everyone’s tired of hearing me say that. They still grimace when my fact contorts with a spasm, but after ten years their empathy is a bit patchy.

So, I finally did something about it and complained to my doctor. He’s not the first doctor I’ve seen, but this was the first time one of them sent me for physiotherapy.

At my first session the young girl said, “Can you bend over for me?”

“If I have to,” I thought grumpily.

After watching my movements, pressing, prodding and pacing me through a series of other embarrassing exercises she said, “I think we can help.”

There was nothing physically wrong with me, no injuries or bulging discs, just stiffness and declining flexibility in my lower spine.

After several weeks and more embarrassing exercises at home (my eldest laughed at me more than once as I grunted around on the floor, threatening to post me on YouTube. I told him if he did then he’d be the one having back pain), my therapist forwarded me on to the back exercise class run at the local gym.

I was expecting something gentle with easy movements, like the kind you see old people doing while sitting in their chairs. I was thinking stretching and relaxation techniques.

Nothing of the sort, this was a real workout: jogging, thrusting weights, sit-ups, push-ups and many others that, for six weeks now have left me red faced and heaving.

Our instructor cheerfully shouts, “More! Faster! Breathe! Smile!” I try to smile at her but I’m afraid it may look more like a snarl, a physiognomic contortion not unlike the kind that erupts from a back spasm. Mercifully the relaxation technique comes at the end of the class.

But, oh how I hurt in the first days after the workouts. I joke to my compatriots that our instructor must be part witch doctor because we end up with so many other pains that we forget about our back altogether.

However, I am getting better. My abs are tighter and I’m learning to keep them that way, especially when I bend over or do the sorts of things that used to cause me so much grief, like driving or sitting too long or making the bed or pulling weeds or stepping off the curb or putting on my socks or sneezing too hard.

It still hurts sometimes, but less often now; I don’t need the meds as much and feel as if I’ve got some alternatives to managing the inevitable, physical decline that comes with age. I’m highly motivated to finish the class and keep working out…and doing my embarrassing exercises in the privacy of my own home.

Thanks to Lori and Lorna…

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