Balancing Act

I’ve been retired for a little over two months now. I live a life of relaxed luxury in a beautiful villa on a hillside overlooking scenic Lake Chapala in Mexico. I honestly didn’t think my life could get any sweeter.

Everything happens for a reason. God, in his infinite wisdom, made straight our path to Mexico. But I never trusted the voices that said You guys have worked hard all your lives. God wants you relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. There’s only one problem with that line of thought.

It’s patently false.

Lea and I both believe there’s a deeper purpose at work here, but we haven’t discerned it yet. We aren’t driving the bus, but we do have to be able to recognize our stop. We’re keeping our eyes and minds open. And we totally enjoyed our first two months here.

And then I fucked up my back. A lots.

I didn’t do anything to injure my back. It was fine when I went to bed two weeks ago, but it felt… different…when I woke up. Two days later, I thought Freddy Kruger was massaging my neck. I was in agony.

When I was as a nurse, I was required to do a pain assessment on all of my patients. It’s a 0-10 scale, with 10 being the worst possible pain imaginable.

I know for a fact my pain hit 15 a couple of times. And I have an incredibly high pain tolerance. I mean, I’m the guy that once walked at least a mile on a fractured ankle.

Yeah, it actually did hurt like hell.

I’m a guy. Guys do not go see a doctor unless they’re dying. In truth, they will usually wait until after they’re dead before they’ll call to make an appointment. I’m also a nurse, and nurses dislike doctors even more than guys do. Dealing with the doctors is sometimes worse than dealing with the patients.

So, it may come as a surprise to hear that I went to see not one, but three healthcare providers in the last two weeks.

Doctor One was naturopathic practitioner. She didn’t do any sort of an exam, but based on my symptoms, she concluded I had an herniated disc. D1 gave me a cold laser treatment, an electrical muscle stimulation, and she gave me a prescription for some pain meds. Her treatment was… well, it wasn’t ineffective, but it wasn’t greatly effective either. Her bill was roughly 350 pesos, plus whatever the pain meds cost. My symptoms improved, but the pain persisted, and eventually got more better worser.

Doctor Two was a chiropractor. D2 palpated my cervical spine, and concluded my herniation was at C7. He had an impressive looking contraption for spinal decompression in his office. He told me the machine cost one hundred thousand dollars. And he has two of them. He did a minimal exam, then agreed with Doctor One’s assessment.  His idea of treatment was for me to use his contraption, and his bill was thirty seven thousand pesos.

In his defense, he does have two decompression machines to pay for.

Doctor Three does modified Bowen Therapy. Google it. That’s what I had to do. He did the most thorough medical history of this trio. He’s not merely a therapist of the physical realm, he’s a therapist of the soul.

“The right side of your face is really swollen. Have you had any dental work done lately?”

“My jaw was broken earlier this year.”

“Well, there you go.”

“But the fracture was on the left.”

“Yeah, that would explain it.”

Perhaps, but not to me.

He thought it was weird I had apparently herniated a disc in my sleep. It’s possible, I guess, but unlikely to occur that way. He asked a lots of questions about my life and stuff, and then he went to work. He’s probably had clients that were as messed up as I was, but I think it’s been awhile.

He thought discs C7 and T1 were locked together, then feared all seven of my cervical vertebrae were locked together. Getting all those little bones moving independently once more was a complicated process. When he wanted to loosen up a specific area of my body, like my neck, he started by focusing on an area nowhere near my neck, before he turned his attention and magic fingers on it. And before too long I could actually turn my head.

I felt like I had been hit by a truck by the time he finished. The session lasted two hours, and cost five hundred pesos. My still whole body aches this morning, but it’s not in agony anymore.

D3 talked about seemingly random stuff while he went through his progressions. He was just throwing ideas out there, food for thought. Like cosmic energy vortices and stuff. Some people are highly intuitive, and the energy vortices here are almost as intense as they are in Sedona, Arizona. That could be part of the problem.

“You worked in a high stress area. What are you doing now?”

“Dude, are you telling me I’m stressing out because I don’t have any stress in my life?”

I can honestly tell you I wasn’t too thrilled by that idea. I was a psych nurse. And now, I’m a…psych… patient? Seriously, I was having an existential spinal meltdown because I wasn’t hanging out with crazy people anymore.

I am shaking my head as write this, and it doesn’t hurt one bit.

This change has evidently been so stressful to me that the left side of my body is trying to pull my spine away from the center of my torso. My right shoulder is messed up, probably from the time I wiped out running across that old lava flow on the Big Island  of Hawaii. And I shanked up the left side of my rib cage, possibly when I jumped out of Raoul’s car after he turned into Satan when I was tripping on acid in Texas.

For whatever reason or reasons, my body has become profoundly unbalanced, and as a psych nurse and alcoholic, I understand the importance of balance.

The most depressing aspect of this circumstance is I thought I had a pretty good feel for the whole balance thing, and that illusion just got blown all to hell.

I know that I’ll never reach a point where I don’t need to work at improving myself, but I didn’t know I needed this much calibration. And yesterday was my 61st birthday. Not a present I would’ve chosen for myself, I can assure you.

So, what tools do you need to fix yourself?

Step 1. Awareness. If you’re not aware of the problem, you’re not going to do anything to fix it.

Step 2. Insight. How does it apply to me? Understanding cause and effect.

Step 3. Action. Come up with a plan and attack. If you’re not willing to make some changes, get comfortable where you’re at. You’re not going anywhere…

I need to exercise more–not this week, thank God, but soon. Drink more water. Even after three kidney stones, it’s still an issue. And I need to use better body mechanics.

That’s the structural stuff.

Emotionally and spiritually, I’m sure I couldn’t list all the stuff I need to do there, but off the top of my head, I’m sure stress management will rate pretty high on that list.

Poco y poco.

I’m not sure God has a sense of humor, but I like to think he does. It would explain a lot. God certainly has a finely tuned sense of irony because there are so many ironic moments in all of our lives. It would appear that God has an endless appetite for those types of scenarios.

What better tool to use to teach us awareness?

He’s got my attention.

Everyone thinks retirement means you can put your feet up and kick back. Your work is done. But that’s not how it’s looking to me right now.

From where I’m sitting, it looks like my work has just begun.


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