I talked to my chiropractor today about how I experienced my tailbone dagger sensation. While we talked, I told him that I was OK with never going hiking again, and I don’t think I’ll ever do any sort of heavy lifting again. My days of being able to perform activities traditionally considered hyper-masculine like moving heavy shit, doing heavy labor, and other extreme physical activities are behind me. I’m not interested in all that, anyways.
The most I want is to live a humble, pain-free life.
I want to be able to wake up and go to bed with a predictable level of experience related to pain levels. You might feel that way now, where you can wake up, go about your day, and go to sleep without experiencing any sort of day-altering pain. For me, now, fortunately, it’s less cumbersome but the day is still ruined. My mood goes from happy to disappointed, if not completely thrown into survival mode to rest my spine and fall asleep for a few hours.
I could technically go hiking.
But what would happen if that happened during the hike? Would I carry a cot with me and sleep there until my spine feels better? There’s nothing out there on that hike that I can’t vicariously experience through the photography or videos of others. My identity, therefore, has been forever shaped and changed because of my spine health. You might say that this is a defeatist attitude, and perhaps that would be true, were it not for this 13+-month journey through the most intense pains I’ve ever experienced, continually getting worse, with emotions ranging from apathy to disdain from the very doctors I trust my life in to help fix the issue.
So, fuck hiking; I’m OK with just getting by.
There are certain gender performative roles I can’t do because of my disability. I can’t do the sort of traditionally masculine activities like changing the oil in a car, doing physical labor, or anything like that. These seem like weird and almost harmful things to say regarding masculinity, but, they were elements that I perceived while growing up in the world around me at that time that I cannot perform anymore. I’m OK with that. I have no real interest in doing any of those things when I can outsource those duties.
Why bother trying to perform roles that don’t fit me?
There’s nothing to be gained by doing things that won’t help me get into better physical health. I would hazard to say mental health because I feel mentally well. I’m sure armchair psychologists would jump at the chance to explain how it’s wrong that I feel this way about physicality, and if I just took an anti-depressant of their choice, I’d be fine. It’s more of accepting the changes in my body. When I first started writing these essays about rowing, I was inspired by being unable to climb up a child’s jungle gym to take a photo. I’m not able to do that today, but mainly because I don’t have the interest in going all the way out to that jungle gym and trying to take that photo.
That experience was more about wasted potential getting “the shot.”
As long as I can still get to the location where I can “get the shot” or “get the story” then I’m happy with whatever condition I can get. After doing the adjustments, exercises, and using the chiropractor’s back brace, I can feel my spine pop more as I move around. Those pops and cracks might be my body expressing decreases in inflammation but most of them hurt more than not. So I’m better than I was a month ago, but I’m still not at the point where I could confidently work through an entire shift without needing constant breaks at the risk of reinjury.
I can at least get groceries and cook food, so, I’m making progress.
Although my body is physically aged at nearly 35 years old, the way my body expresses itself to the world through walking or even just being is closer to 70, or probably more, since I’ve met many 70-year-olds that are physically fitter than me. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to row again. Maybe not. If that’s the case, then I’ll sell the rowers and close down this column. It’s not a huge thing for me. I’ve been wanting to write about my physicality, and did for a number of years until my health took this decline. I may never recover. I will never earnestly put in a grueling rowing set again, and at most, I might wish to row twice daily for brief 5-minute sets as a sort of active physical meditation akin to clearing the inflammation of the mind of hatred, stress, and anxiety.
I’ll keep writing these essays until there’s a hard no.
It seems defeatest but it’s the only way to remain rational through this entire process. What can I do by yelling and screaming at doctors? That won’t make the pain in my ass go away. That won’t do much more than cause me to be removed from doctors’s offices – even if I try to advocate as tactfully as possible. So if the most I can get out of my health from now until I die is the ability to hang out with new and old friends, go about a normal day without being physically impaired, and maybe do certain activities like going to concerts well into 2022 after all the first-round concertgoers test how effective the vaccines are, or whatever else, then I’m fine with that.
I don’t have aspirations to hike up mountains.
My aspirations are writing and figuring out ways to communicate better. I might write well but even now I still have poor communication skills. If I can accomplish the tasks I want to do, I’ll be happy.
I don’t need much more than that out of this broken, crippled, and ruined body I inhabit.
|Sources: My fitness experiences.
– This week’s weight: 222.5, on Thursday
– Last week’s weight: 226.5
– Weight Difference: 4 pounds down
– Difference between writing and editing for publication: I weighed in a few days early, but I wasn’t feeling much like moving around before or after. I still feel that same way; not much has improved, but I’m figuring things out.q
|Inspirations: My thinking hasn’t been positive today.|
|Related: Past weekly column entries. Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.|
|Written On: 2021 May 19 [8:55pm to “getting by” at 9:02pm, then 9:15pm to “a hard no.” at 9:29pm then from 10:17pm to 10:22pm]|
|Last Edited: 2021 May 19 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|