Tag Archives: estamos

Zen and the Art of Muscle Spasm Maintenance

It’s been three days now.

Three long, tedious, mind-numbing days of lying in ungainly positions with multiple pillows arranged under, behind, and beside the various and sundry (as in unmentionable) parts of my body. My back is my Achilles heel, and three days ago it decided to kick me in its own ass when I tried to lift a heavy box.

If you’re surprised to hear me talking about my very own back that way, consider this: I’m on the maximum dose of ibuprofen washed down with half a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I’m lying flat on my back with an ice pack tied around myself using one of my favorite, now probably ruined, scarves. My hands keep falling asleep from holding my iPhone up in the air while I type this. My back does, indeed, feel exactly as if it twisted itself around and planted its heel squarely in the middle of its own ass. But things could be worse.

About an hour ago, I made an important scientific discovery: Pleasure cancels out pain.

How did I stumble upon this amazing fact? Well, as we all know, great scientific discoveries are often borne of necessity, and this one is no exception. Earlier, I had been a bit hungry, and my empty stomach needed something in it to keep the ibuprofen company. I’d tried to walk to the kitchen to grab a cracker, but my back rebelled, driving me back to bed in a hunched up fog of pain.

It was too early to gulp down any more painkillers, so I lay there for about twenty minutes until Chuck came home with groceries, and then I asked him to fix me up a little lunch. Even though it meant having to sit up in bed in an even more painful position, I decided to try and force myself to eat something.

I moaned and groaned and finally had positioned myself for minimal food spillage. The food was arranged on a cutting board and balanced precariously on my outstretched legs. I grimaced and resolved to get this over with as quickly as possible so I could go back to painfully lying down instead of painfully sitting up. But at the moment that I tasted my first mouthful of the delicious food Chuck had prepared, my taste buds exploded, and so did the pleasure receptors in my brain.

It was only a microwaveable meal from Trader Joe’s, the kind that looks like an upscale TV dinner. I must have been really hungry, because that Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes (emphasis on the mashed potatoes) tasted like Thanksgiving dinner. And, for that first fleeting second or two while I savored the surprisingly delicious flavors (emphasis on the Marsala), my pain disappeared! It seemed I was incapable of feeling pain simultaneously with pleasure.

Unfortunately, the second that I paused to consider this, the pleasure receded and the pain came rushing in to fill the void. But all it took to send the pain away was another forkful of food.

I then took two sips of wine that I’d had the forethought to ask Chuck to place next to me on the bedside table, and this helped matters even more. Then I went ahead and took two, or maybe six, more sips. There. Much better.

I also started thinking about how I really should try to meditate in order to relax my back — and no sooner had I thought this, than again I felt a slight easing of the pain.

And occasionally, instead of thinking about meditation, I just took another sip of wine.

I continued this cycle of “eat-sip-think about meditation-or-sip” (TM) until my Trader Joe’s meal-in-a-tray was gone, and then I was feeling so much better that I decided to write this post about it.

I am now a firm believer in the “eat-sip-think about meditation-or-sip” (TM — or maybe © ) method. And I’m shortening it to ESTAMOS, Spanish for “we are.” It makes a great hashtag.

But, unless you’re determined to get a stomach ulcer, please don’t mix ibuprofen with alcohol. The label says there can be some nasty results.

I hope to be fully recovered from my back problems in time to accept the Nobel Prize for Home Remedies next year. And just to increase my odds of winning, I’m going to try some actual meditation now. If it works, I may change the name of my method to MEATS (meditate-eat-and-take-sips), but I’m afraid PETA (People Enraged by Trite Acronyms) might not like it.