Monday, January 31, 2011

"A Powerful Tool"

The back spasms continue.  I’m getting treatment, but it’s slow.  Part of the reason it’s slow is because the guy who’s working on me – he calls himself a Body Mechanic – only has office hours three days a week.  The rest of the time, he is the barn, working his Body Mechanic’s magic

On horses.

It’s California.  What are you gonna do?

The fact is, I believe in this guy. 

And so do the horses. 

So we have to share.

Over the weeks, I’ve felt gradual improvement.  Sometimes, however, there are setbacks.

Last night, I woke up at two o’clock in the morning with acute tightness around my shoulder blade and shooting pain radiating down the outside of my left arm.  I am wide awake, and I’m hurting.  I have no idea what’s going on.

And then I do.

I look down at the fingers of my left hand.  They seem to be moving around all by themselves.  But in a specific kind of arrangement.  What I’m doing, I realize, is that I’m miming playing the piano.  What I’m duplicating with my fingers is the rhythm pattern for a song I’ve been studying – an up tempo rocker called “Still The Same”, by Bob Seger. 

This observation was confirmed by the fact that “Still The Same” was playing over and over in my head.  My left hand had been reflexively playing along.

What was now apparent was that I’d been playing the piano in my sleep.  The fast-paced song in my head that I’d been accompanying with my fingers had proven too taxing for my current condition, generating the pain that eventually woke me up. 

Now I was awake, and I had to decide what to do.  Ice?  A heating pad?  Change my sleeping position?  Add a pillow?  Get up and walk around? 

I was pretty sure none of those strategies would get me back to sleep.  And even it one did, so what?  I had this spasm-inducing song reverberating in my head. 

You always won

Every time you placed a bet

Or, more significantly, the muscle-tightening finger movements –



B-B-B-C Sharp


The situation seemed hopeless.  If I fell back asleep, it would only happen again.


Amidst tiredness and discomfort, the solution became clear to me.  My mind – a powerful tool, the mind – had been sending out music that was irritating my body.  What was required, I concluded, was to alter the playlist.

Which is exactly what I did.

I instructed my mind to replace the fast-moving “Still The Same” with the more leisurely- paced “Marie”, by Randy Newman, a song I could comfortably “finger mime” in my sleep without aggravating my condition. 

It worked like a charm.  The moment the song that had been playing in my head was supplanted by a song I had deliberately replaced it with,

I immediately went back to sleep.

And I was out the rest of the night.


YEKIMI said...

I used to work with horses till I lost my voice, still tried to do it after I had lost it but got sick of people calling me "The Hoarse Whisperer".

Good luck with the back problems, I know very well what you're going through and how agonizing it can be.

Diann said...

Thank you for sharing your life with us - it's very fun to hear how your mind works - so creative and still analytical.

I hope your back is better soon.

Gary said...

If you're taking requests, would you please do "You Can Leave Your Hat On"?

You and Mrs. Dr. P. should be glad you aren't taking drum lessons.