the burden on my back…

I’m shrinking. Already.

It’s not from my bones compacting or the loss of connective tissue. I’m shrinking because of my slumpy slouchy forward reaching neck. My massage therapist and long time friend made a comment not long ago about my “dowager’s hump.” DOWAGER’S HUMP? REALLY?


The condition I have is actually called “kyphosis” and it is caused by a variety of things; genetics, poor posture, depression, weak muscle tone, a life full of question marks. My Nashville chiropractor was more concerned than my Chicago chiropractor. My Chicago chiropractor knows something about me that my Nashville guy didn’t know. He’s known me a lot longer and I think he knows my propensity to slack on the follow through. He’s a long term kind of guy. When I asked what I can do about he gave me the same “exercises” he has given me time after time when it begins to bother me. He can adjust me, he can suggest massage to ease the poor overtaxed neck and upper back muscles but in the end, it really is up to me and he places the ball firmly in my court, where in truth, it belongs.

I’d much rather opt for a back brace or a steel bar in implanted firmly my back at this point. It would be easier, I think to myself in moments when I realize it’s been a week since I last did the simple exercises I’m required to do each day, several times a day, in fact, to correct the question mark posture I’ve developed.

The trouble here is that this posture is not simply a physical one. No pill will fix it, even surgery or a back brace won’t straighten me out. The real trouble is the follow through. It is caring enough about seeing the world from an upright position, it’s caring enough to do the work required to enable this possibility. I know this. I’ve known this an awful long time now.

I used to blame the “mommy slump” as the culprit and continuer of the kyphosis but now that I don’t pick up and carry children around it’s hard to make the case for that anymore. Now, I think I’ve just become accustomed to seeing the sidewalk instead of the trees. I’ve become acclimated to the chin in my chest, to the burden on my back.

What my long time chiropractor knows about me is that I have got to want to straighten up so that I can fly right. He knows that no matter how much he hounds me about the diagnosis and about the neck pain being a direct result of my question mark posture nothing will change until I am ready to change it.

I’ll be 45 in September. Time may be running out for me with this. At my age correcting this is difficult but not impossible. I caught a glimpse this week of how far I’ve degenerated when comparing some pictures, one taken recently, one taken 10 years ago and it moved me to tears. I’m not afraid of growing old, not really. I am afraid of being incapable of movement. I am unwilling to be in the constant pain I’ve carried the last 2 years because of the kyphotic posture. When I saw the photos I had this moment with my body. We had this little heart to heart, neck to neck, back to back, discussion and I made a promise just then to my body. I promised my body that I would give it the attention it needs. My body doesn’t want my regret or my empty promise. It wants me to take better care of it. I know this.

It’s more than a regiment of simple exercises. There is more required to unpack this burden on my back.


2 thoughts on “the burden on my back…

  1. Its harder to tend to your own needs than to others. Not the same delicious feedback. But I grew up wearing a backbrace for scoliosis and started doing exercises at age 11. (Believe me, you would not opt for the brace or the steel rod surgery) without these exercises, I experience immobility. Thats not a horrible disability really, just a demand for a regiman and a little discipline. Use it or lose it as they say! when you do the exercises, do them with Glee for the mobility that you have – its amazing to live in this fragile body. enjoy it.

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