Friday, May 8, 2009

Death Grip

I spent all last weekend on crutches because I sprained my butt. My actual diagnosis is Trochanteric Bursitis, which doesn’t even mean Sprained Butt. It means Inflamed Hip Joint. But Sprained Butt makes me feel less like an old lady than anything with Bursitis or Hip Joint in the title. So that’s how I’m referring to it.

When people ask how I sprained my butt, I tell them I was running for a ball on the tennis court – a ball that a woman my age has no business trying to get – and I DID get it, and won the point, and then, later (much later) I couldn’t walk or sit or stand or sleep for the pain I was in. All that is completely true. But I don’t really think that’s why I have a sprained butt. I think it has more to do with Swine Flu.

I swore I would not write about Swine Flu, but I have to.

I was trying to ride the wave of the media frenzy early the week before and I was doing ok. I was using all my cognitive therapy skills and taking extra care not to read too much Swine Flu news. I thought I’d attained some equilibrium.

When I went to tennis a week ago Monday, my clinic mates were making Swine Flu jokes. I was polite but firm. “Please don’t talk about Swine Flu,” I’d said. “This is my one 90-minute slice of the day that I’m able to forget about it completely.”

The week went on and more information flooded my inbox. On Thursday, I made the mistake of clicking a link that ultimately took me to some kind of FEMA handbook for Pandemic Preparedness and from there everything went downhill fast.

There are about five different theories I subscribe to that explain the intricate connection between our bodies and our minds. It’s too complicated to go into any one of them here, but I do know this: every single time I have ended up having to take prescription strength anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, pain killers, or found myself on crutches or bedridden, there’s been some sort of psychological trauma preceding it.

One such trauma was “turning 40.” Even thunderstorms can do it. It doesn’t take much.

Eileen once asked Laura the Tennis Pro if it was true that her forehand groundstroke should be loose and easy, rather than the death grip she usually employs. Laura said not only should your grip be relaxed, it should be SO RELAXED that when you follow through, your racquet should be able to glide right out of one hand and into the other.

Seriously? No death grip necessary?

I don’t think I’ve ever been relaxed when I’ve hit a ball. In fact, if I’m waiting for a ball to come, the way I tell if I’m ready is to feel every muscle in my body go on red alert. So, running for that butt-spraining ball was only half the cause of my agony. The rest was the death grip I manage to put my body in over Swine Flu. Or Y2K. Or SARS. Or Anthrax. Or Three-Mile Island.

Or, the dental work I had the day before. Which, in retrospect, and from the vantage point of bursitis, seems like a walk in the park.

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