Getting Old Is Awesome

I drive a lot in my job as a consultant, and after almost three years of 1000 miles a week, I’m feeling it. My stomach and glute muscles are weakening, my hip flexors are on revolt, my SI joints are inflamed, and there’s no air pillow puffy enough from Amazon to solve the problem.

It’s partly age, but also partly my body telling me that I’m out of balance. I first felt lower back pain about a year ago, but just kept thinking it was muscle tightness, maybe from too much tennis or not enough yoga. But after months of futilely rolling out my IT bands on high-density foam and trying to solve the problem on my own, I finally went to a chiropractor in October and he told me I was all out of whack.

Those weren’t his exact words—he said something about my Atlas, my T12, and my L5, and maybe a few other things in between. But I felt better after I left—at least until I got back into the car again.

So I started amping up my number of visits. I also started increasing use of other modalities to ease inflammation and pain—more acupuncture and massage. I started seeing a rolfer, who does very specialized deep tissue work. The rolfer spotted the misalignment right away, as I was standing there. He said, “I can see your hips are turned to one side,” and I pointed to the right. “That way?” I asked, and he said, “Yes.” All the muscles and bands on one side of my back were locked together, kind of stuck, rather than moving more independently as my ribs move.

It’s going to take more than just a few sessions on special tables to remedy this. So I’m doing everything a physical human can do. I now do a series of PT exercises at least twice a day, strengthening my core and my glutes. I use an exercise ball, two different foam rollers, multiple exercise bands, and The Runner’s Stick. Of course, for good measure, I periodically use the arm roller and the Therabar I got a year ago for tennis elbow. I also am trying to learn not to sleep on my stomach.

My boyfriend D. said to me, “Wow, it’s taking a lot to help you with this.” Was he commenting on my ridiculous series of appointments? Or maybe he said this when I was on the floor watching TV while doing hip flexor stretches and pelvic tilts. Hey, I’m like Oprah addressing her weight issues. I just don’t have the billions to pay for it and the in-house trainer and chef. These things take a small army.

Sometimes I think I’m working too hard on it, however. One of my chiropractors said, “you don’t want to think about it too much, you know, because you can attract too much energy to that.” The quote of the day that later showed up in my email box from Abraham-Hicks said: “When you give vibration to something, that vibration becomes activated and comes to the forefront. And the more often you focus upon it, and cause it to come to the forefront, the more dominant it becomes.”

I do believe that. It’s the Law of Attraction. So now when I am doing PT exercises morning and night, I try not to think about the fact that I while away hours in this way. Instead, I send good healing energy to my back. As I’m in a spine twist that is stretching every part of my being, I practice relaxing into it, breathing. And when I am on a massage table or signing yet another check to my chiropractor, I think to myself, “How lucky am I that I have this kind of support when I am ailing?” Part of why I have this trouble is I have a great job that takes me places, and I am very physically active, playing tennis several times a week. My muscles just aren’t in perfect balance.

I think of a cab driver who recently gave me a ride in St. Louis. He had a pillow, slipped inside a light blue case, behind his lower back. As he got into his cab, he adjusted the pillow behind him. I am sure that pillow would never be thick enough to deal with his pain, driving a cab all day long, probably six days a week. I thought at the time, “I know just how you feel.” I felt connected to this guy. He and I suffered from the same thing.

But I don’t drive a cab over 40 hours a week. I have a special pillow I sit on in my car like the ones they get for people in wheelchairs, so it take pressure off my tailbone (that’s the getting old part). I lean against an air pillow to support my lower back when I’m sitting. There’s an exercise ball in my office so I can do flexibility exercises as I work. I have a stand-up desk now as well, so I’m not sitting too much. I go to appointments every week with people who help me feel better. And I am feeling better all the time. So really, I just have to stop being a big baby. Shut up about my back, and all will be well.