Immobilization

Sunday, about two in the afternoon, I was walking out of the bedroom after assisting Star with some of the Yule dinner preparations, and I was struck with a strange pain from the middle of my lower back to just above my knees. It was as if my spine and hips had been put in traction – I was unable to bend, turn at the waist, or stand completely upright. I was in severe pain whenever I tried to sit in a chair (and even moreso in the fifteen minutes it took me to get OUT of a chair. I convinced Star that I didn’t need to go to the hospital, and told her to go on and do the shopping/visiting/present deliveries she needed to do. While she was gone, I proceeded to cook the Yule feast, interrupted by watching TV and being in and out of pain. As the evening progressed, the immobilization got progressively worse – I was having to walk up and down the porch steps sideways, one hand on the wall, and finally I decided to lay down. After the first attempt to get out of bed later that took me twenty minutes, things got progressively worse. Still, I assumed that the situation would improve if I just relaxed, took some aspirin and slept. To no avail. So yesterday we went to the emergency room, me still in pain, and after waiting 4-1/2 hours there were told it was a muscle spasm. They gave me a pain-killer shot and prescriptions for painkillers and muscle relaxers. Things have definitely improved – where the pain was about the size of two basketballs it is now about the size of a softball after the meds kick in.

If I lay still, and try not to breathe deep,
let go of any thought of jig dancing
and do not dwell on bending at the waist,
the situation is not all that bad.

But a lingering fear plays fast and loose
with my calmness, jacks up my blood pressure
and tends to greatly exacerbate things:
like a recurring dream of Osiris,

laid stiff and motionless in his coffin,
I see myself immobile, able to speak
only with the subtle shift of my eyes.

And that limited vocabulary
cannot express the soft Music I hear
in each frozen moment of longing dance.

24 DEC 2002

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