The world is full of people who love to get out there and embrace life. They are hearty, healthy souls who aren’t afraid to take risks. They thrive when they can breathe in the fresh cold air of a challenging ski slope. They are happiest facing whitewater rapids, hiking the steep and rocky slopes of giant mountains or surfing the steepest of waves.
I am not one of those people.
Nuh, uh. Not me.
Nevertheless, I am constantly injured and in pain.
I once broke a bone in my foot by falling off a flip-flop in the wet grass. Not only did I break a metatarsal, I was too faked out to see a doctor. So I walked on it and broke it over and over for six long weeks.
Then there was the time I had to go for an emergency endoscopy after getting a bite of KFC lodged in my throat.
One time a few years ago I was persuaded to go snow tubing by a group of my closest and most beloved friends. Predictably, while they were flying down the hill head first on their bellies, I carefully sat on my big old butt and went down the safest slope. In spite of my best efforts, I managed to break a rib by smacking into a five year old and then ricocheting off the teenaged boy who was there to stop people from flying into little kids.
I am a walking, talking injury report, even though my most athletic undertaking is baking bread.
I mean, I like my life. I want to hold onto it for a while. I like this old body. I try hard not to hurt it.
Even so, here I am, on this bright sunny winter morning, with an ice pack on my face, a hot pack on my back, and cannabis/menthol rub on my elbow.
What happened, you ask? Was I wrestling alligators for fun? Did I participate in a bronco busting event or play tag football with local teens?
Nope, nope and nopie.
The back hurts from holding my eight month old grandson, and lifting him in and out of his crib.
The elbow hurts from…..well….from playing the violin. I played for an hour yesterday. AN HOUR!!!!
And the jaw?
It appears that I dislocated the left side of my jaw while eating eggplant.
No, I am not kidding.
I should explain that I’ve had problems with my jaw for about 50 years. I have “TMJD” or “Temporo-mandibular-joint Dysfunction.” This means that pretty much every time I open and close my mouth the joints in my jaw make an audible “pop” as they slide partly in and out of their sockets. They ache a lot, and once in a while one side locks, meaning that I have to use heat and ice to gradually release it.
Last night I was enjoying a lovely dinner and chatting with my husband when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in the left socket. When I say “sharp pain”, I mean that for a minute there I was pretty sure someone was sticking a red-hot pair of scissors into my face. The pain radiated into my chin, my cheekbone, my left ear and my eyeball.
I dropped my fork and clutched my face.
I thought that it was just one of my usual lockjaw moments. I thought I could just massage it away.
Three hours later, my mouth was still stuck. It was open about a half-inch, but nothing I did would get it any further. I went to bed with a hot pack on my face and a couple of ibuprofen in my belly. Somewhere in the middle of the night I realized that I couldn’t actually close my mouth, either. I could get my front teeth together, but my molars felt like they were on different tracks, with the top set heading east and the bottom heading west.
There will be no steak in my immediate future.
I’m not writing all this to make you feel sorry for me (although if you’d like to send a donation to my ice-cream fund, I won’t turn you down). No, I am writing this because I want you all to understand that there is a very good reason why some of us are not the most athletic people on earth.
I want to share the pain and embarrassment that comes with being a fragile flower. There is a reasonable medical explanation for why people like me spend our days on the couch instead of the ski-slopes.
If I can be injured while walking, can you imagine me trying to skydive? I’m in serious pain and possibly headed to the ER in the middle of a pandemic, all because I was injured while EATING EGGPLANT.
No, thank you. I’d rather pass on riding my bike through the Himalayas.
Be careful out there.