I spent the day in a restless flux.When I encountered moments of emptiness in between my chores I had a nagging anxiety that I was squandering away something precious. Maybe it was a premonition. I was indeed whiling away minutes of mobility which I would lose in the coming weeks.
Finally at 10.30 pm, I stepped out sure footedly to settle down a cat fight (the literal one -my male cats Gandalf and Kumbs were going at each other again) and before the rain drops could catch me by surprise, I slipped; slipped into minutes of most pain I had ever experienced. My therapist keeps me asking me if I fell on my bottom, or if I used my hands or knees to break the fall. I seriously have no idea. All I remember is the piercing pain that engulfed every cell of my lower back, sharp enough to make me cry out and roll on the wet floor, but just low enough to let me know that I hadn’t broken anything.
My initial reaction was to beat up myself. How could I be so careless?! But since then I have had plenty of time to research and think. Thankfully my favourite medical site WebMD assured me that injuries to the tailbone are not entirely preventable as they are usually accidents. Ok, so I was not totally uncoordinated.
Now that my ego had been saved from the bruise, I could focus on my bruised tail bone. There is surprsingly less knowledge about treating the coccyx, the medical term for the tail bone. The coccyx is a partially vestigial organ, remnant of our erstwhile tail, but is instrumental in bearing our weight while sitting and also mechanically supports movement. Unfortunately it is so deeply buried in our bottoms that external applications like icing and heat are only partially effective.
This meant that over the next few weeks I had to rest and move slow, way slow until it healed. Talk about a challenge!
I am no stranger to pushing myself, but walking slow required mighty effort. Physically I was limited and had no choice but to move slow. The harder part was controlling the mind, that would quickly turn anxious about not moving fast enough to answer the phone; to switch off the stove; to reach my seat and respond to that email; just about anything!
The mind finally accepted the defeat and when I finally learnt to slow down, I discovered a whole spectrum of things I had earlier hardly noticed. For instance, there are actually people sitting across the length of the corridor from the office door to my seat and I can smile and say Hello to them. There is a creaking floorboard en route bedroom from the kitchen. The birds and clouds out the window can transform the most boring walk. I can move my television set a little and I can watch shows while lying down. Wait, there are shows I can watch without multi-tasking with a laptop! And lying down still is actually not that bad.
Mind is what you feed it. We usually load it with plans and actions firmly constructed around a world of deadlines, social and financial pressures and familial obligations. When you are forced to reprioritise, it almost comes as a revelation that the quality of life does not diminish because you switched gears. I became more available for my kids (and my cats), I read more, cherished the moments when people came to my aid, picking up things from the floor that had suddenly become too far to reach or fetching things for me.
I can’t wait to run again; but will enjoy this slow ride until then.
PS: If you have a painful tail bone, check out http://www.coccyx.org. Pretty good information out there.