Saturday, November 10, 2012

Past Deadline: A Woeful Tail

Finally caught up! Here is “Past Deadline” from the Nov. 8 issue. (I am pleased to report that I am feeling much better than I was when I wrote this.)
A woeful tail
This week, you will be delighted to know, I am going to write about my bum. It’s a good news/bad news story.
The bad news is, I took an unexpected fast trip down half a flight of stairs first thing last Wednesday morning, and my tailbone took the brunt of it. Bump bump bump bump bump. I nearly passed out.
If it’s not broken, it’s definitely very, very angry.
The good news is I didn’t fling my arms out to brace myself, so I didn’t damage my rotator cuff like the last time I fell down these stupid stairs. Hurray! The other good news is I have something to write about.
My house is very old – 1840s – and the stairs are fairly steep with narrow treads. Combine this with a klutz and it’s not good.
This is the third time I have slid down these stairs. The first was not too long after we moved in 13 years ago. It resulted in a bruised or broken tailbone (coccyx is the fancy name) and the injured rotator cuff. The second was about seven years ago when Girlchild was a baby. I was carrying her at the time. We were both fine – just terrified.
Honest, I treat these stairs with the utmost respect, but I still don’t have the hang of it.
There’s not a lot you can do for a tailbone injury. After all, the coccyx is the tiny little hooked bone at the base of your spine, so it’s not as if you can put a cast on it. I know this from experience.
Whether it’s bruised or broken, the treatment is basically the same: rest, ice and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen.
So, I am on ice. Literally. It’s a huge thrill. I mean chill. Sometimes I just shove the ice pack down my pants to save time.
I have learned how to sit in order to alleviate pressure on the rear. One method is to use a doughnut cushion. Normally this lovely device prevents pressure from being placed on the tailbone, but right now there is so much tenderness in the surrounding area the doughnut isn’t feeling so wonderful.
Instead, I sit with one foot tucked under my thigh so there is no direct contact with the coccyx and the chair.
The other sitting option is to lean forward. I attend a lot of meetings. I am sure I look as if I am listening eagerly as I employ this sitting method. Of course I really am listening eagerly, but now I look convincing.
The “rest” part of the treatment isn’t so easy. See, the tailbone appears to be connected to, well, almost everything. I can’t bend, I can’t walk very well and I can only sit in those aforementioned modified positions. Sleeping hurts. Sneezing and coughing hurt. Lifting things hurts (especially if it involves bending.) Getting in and out of chairs is no fun and the car is probably the worst.
If I drop something and one of the kids is nearby, my plaintive call for help goes out (they have been very helpful, and they enjoy mocking me as I groan around the house).
Really, the only time things feel improved is if I have an opportunity to sit in my modified positions for a couple of hours. That seems to constitute “rest.”
Standing (i.e. when I am teaching), is pretty good, too, as long as there isn’t much movement involved.
Unfortunately, there is only so much sitting still or standing around a working mom can do.
So, really, my best advice is prevention. Kids, stairs are bad. Don’t fall down the stairs.
I am thinking of having the stairs removed, actually.

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