Pain in the Neck

by Peter Wallace, © 2007

I have a pain in the neck. No, I’m not talking about a boss, employee, spouse, child, other relation, or pet. I’m talking about my neck, and the pain it has in it — if you will forgive what has become perhaps the most awkward sentence ever.

After six months of trying to loosen up my stiff neck, I’m giving up, and seeing a medical professional about it. I hate the idea of being at such an advanced age that these things happen, but denial hasn’t helped.

For some time I’ve noticed that, while driving, it’s getting harder and harder to turn my head to see if anything is behind me before backing up. I don’t think that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to be so flexible that I could do the head-spinning-around thing, as in The Exorcist, but backing up is an important part of driving a car.

I remember back about a million years ago when I had been doing my first “real” job for six months. My job involved sitting at a desk or driving places… kind of like my current job… and I was putting on weight. So, one day I decided to do some of what Winnie the Pooh referred to as “stoutness exercises.”

As I started to do jumping-jacks, I realized that I couldn’t put my arms over my head. My shoulders had frozen up. I was 23 years old. Fortunately, I was able to get that flexibility back, and even though it’s 30 years later, I hope I can accomplish that feat again.

Experts say that the biggest threat to elderly people is a loss of flexibility and balance. My pitiful effort in keeping both is to put on my socks each morning without sitting down. Hey… it’s something!

Part of the pain in my neck is that I have to go to Janesville to see the doctor, because my insurance company says so. Then they’ll take six months to figure out how much we have to pay, just in time, with any luck at all, to have things resolved before the end of the year. We’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to get medical care after September 1st/ I wonder if health insurance ever actually makes people unhealthy, due to stress and worry? I’m not a fan of socialized medicine, but I must say our current system has its flaws.

It’s ironic that, having been a pain in the neck for people for years, I now have one. It’s like the irony I enjoy every day, remembering how I teased my dad about his baldness…

With any luck at all, now that I’ve taken the step to get some help, I’ll get some flexibility back in my neck, and the pain will go away. In the mean time, if you had been planning to sneak up on me, this would be a good time to do it. I’ll never see you coming!


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