Ruth: No word from Ellen.  She’s in Beersheva, in the south of Israel, and says there are no internet cafes there.  So she’s unconnected.  I know this week must be exceedingly difficult for her.

I finally broke down and called my doctor to get a referral to a physical therapist to take care of my shoulder.  I’d wanted to think it would get better on its own, but it hasn’t.  Mostly, it’s all right.  But some movements just set it off.  Maybe the yoga isn’t doing it any good.  But I’m be a neurotic, flaccid mess without yoga; I’d rather have a shoulder that aches.

This is the damned trouble with the middle-age years.  (Hope I’m not being too optimistic by calling myself middle-aged.  But, hey.  It’s a personal choice.)  Anyway, one little indignity after another — so I can only imagine what old age is like.

But now, your teeth get sensitive.  Who knew that would be a problem?  All those long, lonely years of being a dreadfully shy, bookish teenager — and no one ever said to me, Well, hey.  At least your teeth aren’t sensitive the way they’ll be in 30 years.  Here, bite down on a crisp apple.  You don’t have to worry about chipping a tooth.  (So what if I never liked crispy apples?)

So, then, you crunch down on something and lose half a tooth.  Or you wonder around nursing that aching neck that is now so sadly fragile that you can’t even sleep on a pillow at night.  So you go to a physical therapist, as I did a couple of years ago.  Jesus, what a racket.  Some guy with some kind of degree in physical therapy and an overpoweringly omniscient attitude about what’s wrong with you.  He gives you a tome of exercises you know you’re never going to perform, because who has that kind of time.

And you go through an endless sequence of little in-office exercises to analyze your failing body.  Some perky little intern/student pipes up with questions like, “So, why do you only swivel your head that far?”  And you think, what is this?  A casting call for “The Exorcist”?  I don’t swivel my head around because I don’t feel like it.  Because it’s a bad idea.  Capice?

Your neck gets better, even though you still can’t sleep on even skinny pillows, so you’re AWOL from physical therapy and get lots of nagging little voice mails about your missed appointments and bills for the two sessions you suffered through.  But you’re better!  Adios, chumps.

Until the next time.  And there’s always a next time, a new and painful chink in the rusting armor you call your body.  This time, it’s your shoulder.  You ignore it, because you believe this shows you have strength of character and you will heal yourself.  Ha.

So, now I’m crawling back, whining, to a physical therapist — only this time, it will be another physical therapist.  Maybe this time I won’t be asked to twirl my head around on my neck.   Maybe I’ll get deep respect for a wayward shoulder that snaps, crackles and pops like those Rice Krispies commercials they don’t even run any longer.  Maybe they’ll just love me for myself and not my health insurance.  I can dream.

In the meantime, I have work to do and I don’t think whining counts.  Unless it’s published, compensated whining.

(Copyright 2007 by Ruth Pennebaker)

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