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Home truths.

Byline: By Abbie Wightwick

I'm writing this standing up. Occasionally I have to jiggle from side to side which makes it hard to type the correct letters. Not the last stages of delirium tremens but back pain which makes it impossible to sit down without the sensation that a knitting needle is being stuck through my spine.

I've managed to balance the keyboard and computer screen on top of a speaker perched perilously on the desk. I feel a bit like one of those keyboard players from bands I'm too unsophisticated to appreciate. I've got no rhythm but can manage a mean sway.

I could begin to feel sorry for myself except I've been told it's not a chronic condition just one bought on by circumstance and stupidity. It should go in a few weeks never to return so long as I can beat my toddler into submission (no more shoulder rides matey) and keep up the "deep muscle" exercises.

The journey into back ache has been humbling. First, as I had never previously experienced so much as a twinge before I was shamefully dismissive of those who claimed to be in more woe than four aspirin would cure.

Two nights without sleep convinced me that I had better face the frightening receptionist at my doctor's surgery. On hearing I needed to see a GP "today" she wanted to know if it was an emergency. Unless you know you are going to be ill a week in advance it's quite hard to get medical attention. Emergency is hard to quantify. I wasn't bleeding to death but I was crawling round the house unable to stand without the assistance of many expletives.

Eventually I gained admittance and was sent on my way with pain killers which didn't work.

Rewind and repeat the entire exercise the following day after looking up "emergency" in the dictionary so as to blind sceptical receptionists with my command of pain and the English language.

Eventually, and despite all my best efforts to be cynical about the NHS I find myself with a wonderful physiotherapist at the local hospital.

It seems my spine took offence to my poor deep muscle tone and hoicking a two-stone 21-month-old round as if I was a weight lifter.

But as usual it's never that simple. Many back problems also start with the feet. You stand wrong, your back's wrong. So off I go to a foot man who tells me that humans should never have left the warm beaches they evolved from and that our feet have been telling us so ever since.

Sand supports our feet where concrete jars the bones. He asks me to bring in three pairs of my shoes so he can assess how I walk. This puts me in a spin. Should I pretend I am sensible and display the trainers or do I go for broke and add the black high heels which one time nearly finished me off?

I return with a selection. The foot man inspects my soles with the air of a mystic about to pass judgement on my future. He is.

If I carry on walking this way I am going to be a cripple when I'm 90.

Great. So I'm going to reach 90 and now I know it's not laziness that makes me want to spend my entire life on a sunny beach. That's made me feel better already.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 7, 2004
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