EVERY THIRD OR FOURTH weekend the bride is off to Maine to look in on her mom, so I lurch around the house scratching, leaving dishes everywhere, forgetting to say “excuse me,” pretty much the same as when she’s here now that I think of it.
Daughters #2 and #3 had cats to be fed last night. They were off having fun at their friends’ weddings (the daughters, not the cats). So I remembered my instructions, this cat usually hides here, gets one scoop of dry, these other ones hide there, they split a can of wet food. And make sure this one doesn’t bully the other one and get the whole can and yeah yeah. Good night for a motorcycle ride, so there’s that.
This morning I get a text from Maine:
How are the cats in Lincoln? Missing the girls?
I puzzle over that and respond with: I fed them, I didn’t interview them.
Before she can ask me something else I don’t know the answer to, I ride the iron piggy to Providence to see our friends Amanda and Jennifer run in a 5k road race. It ends in a terrific downpour in which we all get soaked but it’s 70 degrees out, so all good. Then we get breakfast and talk newspaper talk. Amanda’s a reporter at the Providence Journal, Jennifer at the Wall Street Journal.
No sign of Rhino, who reports for the Boston Globe. Rhino is Jennifer’s other half. Oh, and Rhino’s not his byline. When we were working at the Providence Journal we went by supervillain names from the Spiderman universe, he was Rhino, I was Kraven. Conversations in passing would go something like:
Hey, what’s up, supervillain?
Eh, not much, you treacherous pox on humanity.
So after breakfast there’s nothing to do at home but I might as well do it there. The rain had quit, making for a fast & slightly iffy ride on a wet highway. Piggy’s getting low on grip, time for new sneakers. Maybe this week.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying a biography on Camus, his search for meaning and all that. I’m working on spending less time in the skeleton-wracking practice of reading on the tube. I hope to migrate my way back to the once-familiar dead-tree medium.
And I vow to spend less time watching movies no matter how great they are. Solaris, for example. Which I watched for the fourth time last night.
Our friend Cathleen in Albany NY is into sci-fi, so I recommend Solaris to her not only for the intelligent yarn that it is, a cut above the usual fare, but because I thought she’d enjoy director Steven Soderbergh’s good long look at George Clooney’s naked rear end. It goes on & on & on. The camera shot, I mean.
And somehow, Solaris lacks equal time for Natascha McElhone’s. I don’t think that’s right. I watched the movie four times looking mostly for Natascha McElhone in the buff. At a subconscious level. Okay, a conscious one. What gives?
On the abject pain front, cervical spine, I’m finally getting some relief. And it’s acupuncture doing the trick. Simply amazing. How does it work? Who cares?
Physical therapy was helping but I was starting over from zero every morning when I rolled out of bed. Literally rolled out, couldn’t sit up without seeing stars at trying to lift the weight of my head off the pillow.
PT advised me on how to set up a proper work station, and gave me good training on how to encourage better posture habits, ’cause 40 years of collapsing into a computer screen for a living will really do a job on you. Not to mention riding motorcycles all over North America in a mostly aggressive forward posture. Then it’s not just the weight of your head hanging off the end of your neck bones, it’s the weight of the helmet, too.
And the suspension on the iron piggy is shot, it bottoms out frequently. (Will do new shocks & fork springs when I do tires, maybe this week.) Throw in the advancing years and yeah how could it not all catch up to you?
I’m trying to dial back the yippie-yi-yo, ride more in the cruiser style, sit up & beg. Learned a lot of good stretches at PT. Maybe now with the pain under control I can benefit from them.
Not Natascha McElhone.
I thought of trying acupuncture only because I’d had a good experience with it 25 years ago. That was for pollen allergies, of all things. The non-drowsy meds didn’t work and the ones that worked put me in a fog, so I did eight or ten acupuncture treatments and was symptom-free for quite a few years after that. I’m not sure the allergies ever really came back at all. If they did, they didn’t bother me enough to ever give it a thought.
I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from one experience. Maybe that’s why it took me a whole year of suffering with neck pain to think of acupuncture again.
So this is weird: I walk into the doctor’s office (yes, he’s an M.D., an endocrinologist) and I’ve got very little range of motion in my neck, everything hurts right off the scale. Looks like I’m wearing an invisible neck brace. I turn my shoulders to look left, look right. And looking up or down, forget it. Every muscle fiber that connects this to that is in chronic spasm.
So dig it, the doc sticks needles in here & there—nowhere near my neck, mostly my legs and feet—and the muscles in my neck and shoulders relax. A few minutes into my first visit and I’ve easily got 70 percent of a normal range of motion restored. And it doesn’t hurt to move.
The pain relief lasts for three hours after my first treatment, lasts for two days after my second. The doc says I’ll be done in six to eight visits.
Back to the first visit: At the top of the trapezius on my left side there’s a knot as big and hard as a walnut. I can’t count the hours I had worked on that area, trying to knead the knot away. Apply heat, apply ice. Hopeless. Rolled it with a lacrosse ball, rolled & rolled & rolled, all it did was make the area even more inflamed and raw. Doc sticks a few needles in my legs (there’s a jolt to certain ones as they go in, which I take for a direct hit on whatever the East says is there and the West says isn’t) and the knot between my shoulder and neck dissolves. It vanishes beneath my fingers. I’m lying on the table feeling around for it. Gone.
I’m sorry, that’s not a pseudoscience in action. Not the power of suggestion, not the placebo effect. East and West can have this debate. Me, I don’t care.
Endorphin release? Good. Gimme more.
Re-balancing my chi? Far out, and like, more, please.
When I ask how it works, the Doc says acupuncture allows the body to heal itself. So, hmm, I think to myself, thoughtfully and real Camus-like. And what I come up with is, uh, dunno what that means but it’s enough for me.
Tony DePaul, October 8, 2017, Cranston, Rhode Island, USA