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Some meetings are a real pain in the neck

Debra More - Where I Stand
Staff Writer
9/27/2013

 

Reporters sometimes complain about the beats they cover, but one of mine is a pain in the neck — literally.

My doctor, physical therapist and acupuncturist all agree that the Board of Supervisors is bad for my health.

Something about sitting for hours hunched over a legal pad taking pages of notes finally took its toll and I found myself unable to turn my head.

Co-workers described me as moving and looking like Frankenstein or Herman Munster, neither of which is very flattering.

I spent Labor Day weekend under the influence of Advil and muscle relaxants, housebound. Then came relief — first with tiny needles and then with skillful hands — my acupuncturist and physical therapist are my new heroes.

I can once again turn my head and lift my head off a pillow without wincing. I’m not back to normal, but the residual twinges and stiffness are reminders to avoid some bad habits.

No more cradling the phone with my shoulder while writing, and no more extended periods of typing while reading notes that are lying on my desk. I have a new document stand to keep my work at eye level.

I’m under orders to avoid drafts and to wear scarves to keep my neck warm.

I can handle those directives — it’s the Board of Supervisors that poses a problem. I can’t control that environment.

But my problem is not unique.

According to my acupuncturist and many health care professionals, an entire generation — all these young people hunched over their cellphones and tablets — is going to be plagued by neck problems. And their aches and pains will have been compounded by added years of improper posture.

This recent setback has made me more acutely aware of the value of good health and mobility. It’s something we take for granted until we lose it. For a week I changed my driving routes so that I could minimize turning my head too far to the left or to the right. Backing out of my driveway proved painful.

If only this were an isolated incident, but it seems to be a trend.

This summer we took the boat out on the lake, but of the four of us on board, only my daughter could water ski. My husband’s shoulder is prone to dislocation; I have a chronically testy elbow; and my son-in-law was in physical therapy following a work injury.

There was a time when I would jump off the back of a pickup truck or drag a railroad tie across the yard, but no more. Enough seems to go wrong naturally, without tempting fate by doing something stupid.

I remember watching footage of Ronald Reagan’s funeral and listening as a broadcaster called “time the great equalizer” as he watched members of the Reagan administration filing into the pews to pay their respects — these former political titans were bowed by age as they moved slowly to their seats.

It’s difficult to watch the aging process — as gaits slow and hands tremble.

As I age, I pay more attention to those older than I am as they carefully and slowly move about, realizing that they once could bounce out of their cars and bound across a parking lot.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could age in reverse, so that with each day we became stronger and more agile? We certainly would appreciate our mobility and not take it for granted.

Earlier this year I wrote a story about Harry Clarke, a 90-year-old man who walks daily — rain or shine. We have since become friends and his spirit amazes me. Though legally blind, he appreciates his morning treks and relishes the relationships he forges along the way.

I hope when I reach that age, if I am that lucky, that I can approach life in the same manner and be thankful for the abilities that I still have.

In the meantime, I will wrap my head in scarves and refrain from cradling a phone, but I have a feeling that the supervisors could continue to be a pain in the neck.


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