Now that I can Relax a Little...
Our Times take their Toll
I was washing my hair in the shower, and as I have done all my life, I tipped my head back, raising my chin towards the ceiling, to set the warm flowing water on my forehead and down through my hair. I felt a small kink between my shoulder blades, and then a sharp, stabbing pain that ripped me from my relaxing rinse to a breath-taking acute awareness.
And just like that, I was unable to lift, turn, or otherwise move my head — stuck in that position, still covered in shampoo and soap, one hand against the shower wall to stabilize myself against the assault of pain.
“Okay…” I said to myself in that way one does while the brain still process the unexpected situation. Suddenly, I went from taking a lovely liquid refreshment to examining how to get myself out of the shower with the minimum number of movements—a rational response. However, my breath came in short puffs in response to the shock.
Gingerly, I teetered through a slow turn in the running water for a final rinse (actually rinsed or not) and faced the shower knobs. I grimaced, already feeling the stab in my mid-back that came with turning the water off. “Ohhhh,” I moaned softly through it. “Ohhhhhh-kayy…”
Every step out of the shower and the bathroom required self-encouragement. “Okay, you’re okay,” seasoned with intermittent moans. I made it to the guest bed (on the same floor as the shower), tenderly laid myself down, and curled into a ball.
(I know... The post is just starting to get to the good part… But, if you like it so far, why not share my words with a friend?)
I’m sure there was some logical, rational, medical reason I found myself lying in bed, unable to lift my head, still enduring the scaly eyes and forehead that emerged the week before in an allergic reaction to some unknown internal agent. I only hoped that my recently not-so-regular bowels remembered our pre-shower blowout.
My body has been trying to tell me something lately, and I haven’t paid it due attention. Sure, all my accumulated ailments had their own medical causes, but I know the truth: I’ve been storing up anxiety and stress and rolling with the changes to the best of my limited ability, ignoring the accruing toll.
I’ve been running away from 2020 and going nowhere for three years. I’ve been stuck planning and pondering and processing, wheels spinning and spinning inside my head with minimal tangible progress. I’ve been pushing against a Universe that’s been telling me to wait, grasping in all directions because the pandemic broke my compass.
And now that I do have direction and a valid plan ahead? My body demands I pay the toll. Curled on the bed, near naked and dripping wet, I whimpered my surrender: “Okay. I submit.”
The next challenge was moving to the main bedroom, upstairs, by way of the medicine cabinet, where I had stored some significant pain pills I had swiped from my 90-year-old mother’s pharmaceutical collection. I was going to address the situation bravely — by knocking myself out and sleeping through it, hoping all would magically be well when I awoke.
Of course, that’s not how it goes. And with my holistic medicine mindset, I know the core root of my physical issues is related to the anxiety and stress I have stored and ignored in my body.
After sleeping 18 hours, I felt loosened a little, and my entire goal for the day was to draw a bath, treat the water with Epsom Salts, and soak. Never underestimate the internal, external, physical, or ephemeral benefits of an Epsom Salt bath. Following a two-hour soak (we have free well water), I was loose enough for some therapeutic stretches, followed by sessions with the heating pad.
Half a pain pill the second evening, and on the third morning, I could function without the pain. I took myself and the dogs out for a walk in the sunshine, the motion and movement loosening me even more.
We are a nation of people who are wound tight. The losses, changes, and burdens we have borne since the pandemic alone would weigh a body down, but with the squeeze of inflation, and the political wind-up for next year’s elections it’s no surprise that my body would say, “Okay. That’s enough. I demand some downtime.”
I know. It can all be explained by an allergic response, a muscle spasm, and food that didn’t agree with me. That’s how the body communicates.
Once I could move without pain and felt loosened up, I could feel tension still physically gripping me, clinging and clawing, unwilling to let go and be gone. The best way I know to shake it off is to dance. On my fourth day of recovery, the dogs and I danced, to the Allman Brothers and Pink, from disco to today.
How much stress do you have stored in your body? Have you considered soaking it away with an Epsom Salt bath, letting it loose in the world with a walk amongst nature? Or maybe shaking it off with a dance session? Don’t wait, like I did, for your body to tell you it’s time for some special treatment. It may just force you into submission.