Life in the Time of Coronavirus: Slowing Down and Sitting

I didn’t realize what a hectic life I’d been leading until it stopped. You know the stereotype of the retired person who finds herself busier than ever? That’s me. In my former pre-coronavirus life, I spent much of Sunday with Quaker Meeting related activities, leaving before 9 am and getting home by 2 pm or so. Monday meet with my fitness trainer at the gym. Come home depleted and sometimes spend all afternoon recovering. Every other Monday afternoon, meet with my writing group at the library. One Monday evening a month, attend a committee meeting. Tuesday morning Chinese class at the Senior Center. Tuesday evening choir practice. Thursday morning yoga class. One Thursday evening a month, book group. You get the picture. Busy. That doesn’t even count lunches with friends, other social gatherings, grocery shopping, laundry, and all that.

Then group activities were canceled, and we were instructed to stay at home. All the time. With none of these group activities to break up the time. From too much to nothing. Like dropping a huge boulder I didn’t know I’d been carrying. Lots of time to sit around and….do what? Anything I wanted.

I began to read the news online. Filling myself with the horrors we are all facing. Not enough tests, insufficient Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers, people losing jobs and also losing health insurance. The stock market plummeting. The President saying “I don’t take any responsibility at all” and “My authority is total.” The daily lists of how many confirmed cases, how many hospitalizations, how many deaths. My home county didn’t have any. Then we had one then two then day by day the numbers increased. We read advice to stock the pantry with nonperishable food. We did. We bought quantities of every kind of bean and bags of rice and boxes of pasta and jars of pasta sauce. Toilet paper disappeared from grocery shelves.

Without the gym to go to, I sat around a lot more. I did my usual 10 minutes of morning yoga and our twice daily walks with the dog. But otherwise I sat. I learned to consume less news because it was all bad. I sat over new writing projects. I sat and wrote in my journal. I sat and played solitaire on my iPad. I sat and watched funny YouTube videos. I sat and sipped tea over best selling novels. I sat and talked to friends on the phone.

Easter morning I got up from breakfast and could not straighten up. I felt stiff and then I felt pain. I hobbled around until my spine could unbend itself most of the way. I took a walk to see if movement would help. I rubbed Arnica Gel into my lower back. I took ibuprofen. I went to bed hoping to sleep it off. The pain got worse. Monday morning early I called my Swiss Chiropractor. The first appointment he had was Thursday. Thursday! The receptionist said she would talk to him and see if he could work me in earlier. She called back and said come Tuesday at 9:30 am. Whew!

Tuesday morning I donned my mask and drove to Dr. DuBois’ office. I felt strange driving and realized I had not driven in two full weeks. Somehow I got there. The receptionist wore a mask and gloves. Dr. DuBois greeted me wearing a mask. After asking the details, he applied hand sanitizer and exam gloves and began the assessment and treatment. My blood pressure was off the chart. He said it could be the ibuprofen and/or the pain. I vowed never to take ibuprofen again. He said acetaminophen wouldn’t affect my blood pressure the same way and would help some. But the best treatment was to apply ice as often as possible and sit no longer than an hour. And come back later that week. I did it all and each day have slowly felt better. Was it due to sitting too much? Yes. Did it have anything to do with my osteoporosis? No. With my age? No. He had been seeing a lot of this lately in people of all ages and conditions.

I am amazed that too much sitting can cause this much pain. Pain is a good teacher. Lesson learned. Take heed.

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