There And Back Again

I’ve had a traveling injury that first started from my right shoulder. Slowly the pain migrated to my lower back and finally came to rest on my right ankle.

Over the past 7 months, I have paid some attention to how it has immobilized me, forcing me to rely on other body parts to make up for the aching parts. As is usually the case with pain, I have a theory of why and where it manifests within me. No amount of facts that present themselves to the contrary make me throw away my own theories.

My shoulder pain likely started from a bad sleeping position – where I went to bed healthy and woke up the next day with a bad shoulder. The beginning of the injury was so innocuous that I did not even notice it until it had started asserting its influence on my everyday life long afterward. I was able to hone in on the cause only later as I thought back to possible causes.

Mira’s night time routine has ensured that my shoulder is pressed into action every night. Sometime between 7:30 and 8 pm every night, after she has been fed and changed, I start walking Mira up and down a slightly darkened room. She coos a little, goes woozy with sleep, and falls asleep gradually in my arms. It is a ritual that soothes me too as I watch her settle down through her various stages of sleep.

By the time she falls asleep, usually around 8:15, I have entered a mental space that I am trying to get Mira into.

The steady rocking, the silent pacing back and forth, and faint sounds of the world going by, all come together to lull me into a state of being that can be compared to watching the wind ripple across paddy fields on cloudy afternoons. Late afternoons when the world was a drowsier place, cattle herons lazily surveying slim pickings, where evenings were without appointments that merge into warm nights. Even then, such idyllic scenes do not fully capture the mood. Maybe because there is no satisfying story to return to in those daydreams.

I was so taken in by the effect my night routine with Mira had on me that I failed to notice the amount of strain my lower back was under. In having to spread Mira’s comforting weight evenly, the cushioning that I generally provide with my shoulders had to be compensated for by my back and legs. Before long, I was wincing slightly as I got up; or turning my whole self instead of just my upper body when called from behind.

The pain had gently reached my back.

It is still a delicious pain. A pain that has a warm story attached to it, with a benevolence that, when I try to analyze causes a loving annoyance rather than the usual fears and complaints.

These two pains in my shoulder and back resulted in the third injury to my ankle. Because I had wanted to rest my upper body I realized I had been running more than usual and my ankle started to wear down. One day there was a sharp pain that made stepping on my right foot shoot pulses of pain upwards into my shin.

The pains have a system of their own, and like a maze, they connect if left unchecked forming a system of related conditions.

Armed with this empirical knowledge of my various pains’ origins, I cut down on running –  first trying to cauterize and stem the flow of injury beyond its current states. My leg got better as I rested and resisted the urge to walk or run more. Meanwhile, I also started making sure that Mira was really sleepy before I started walking her at nights. A little less time walking, but my back responded positively. With enough rest, I am hoping my shoulder gets back to its painless state.

With such slight modifications, I dam up the pain, prompted by an aging body that rears its state to remind me of how much time has gone by. To some, these reminders are a steady stream of funerals and celebrations. A passing away or a birthday are markers of time that serves to remind the attendees of the passage of time. To me, body pains and how heavy my breath feels after exertions are what reminds me of my age.

Somewhere in this process of healing, winter has ended and spring has come closer.

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