The pain is real, not a metaphor. The location is, of course, euphemism.
Americans (from both continents, not just from the fifty states) and Europeans do a lot of sitting. The posture of right angles at the waist and at the knees is very common in Western Civilization. Westerners sit in cars and trains and buses and airplanes. We sit at work and at home. Africans and Asians are more likely to stand on buses and trains and to be on their feet more of the day. When they rest, they sit on the ground or on mats or cushions on the ground or floor. The posture of two right angles at the lower half of the body is not common in many nonwestern cultures.
In a related item, lower back pain is far more common in American and European countries than in Asian and African countries. In other words, if westerners had fewer chairs (and couches, sofas, benches, etc.), they probably would have fewer complaints of lower back pain. I know that if there was one fewer chair in my house, there would be one fewer person in pain today.
Last Friday night I was getting ready for bed. I turned off the overhead light and began to cross the dark bedroom. A certain chair, which will remain nameless, was not exactly where I expected it to be. My feet got tangled in the bottom of the chair, and I lost my balance and toppled backwards. My full weight met the floor at the location of my coccyx, or tailbone. It hurt when it happened, and I knew that it would continue to hurt for a while. With nothing better to do, I got up and went to bed.
Saturday I was in some pain, but I was able to get through the day. I even climbed a ladder to the roof to hang lights. Sunday I made it to church and through the rest of the day with some pain, but again I had no restrictions.
Monday at work was a different story. I must have done more sitting, and I must have used chairs less friendly to the human body—at least to the damaged human body. By Tuesday morning, while driving to work, I noticed that my right leg was becoming increasingly sore because of the adjustments I was making to try to handle the pain of the original injury. Therefore, I did some internet research and discovered that what I really need is a donut-shaped pillow. There were many on-line ads for such pillows, but when I visited a large department store there selection was much smaller. In fact, the store had only one kind of donut-shaped pillow, and it is inflatable, an option I had not wanted to consider. Needing some kind of relief, I bought what the store had, brought it home, and struggled for about half an hour to inflate the pillow.
“But, J, have you been to the doctor?”
No, because there is not much a doctor can do for me. A doctor could order an X-ray to find out if my coccyx is bruised or fractured, but a bruise or fracture would be treated in the same way. No matter what expressions you have heard or used, no sling exists for that part of the human anatomy. About the only help a doctor might offer is prescription pain-killers, and I prefer to get by on my generic ibuprofen, thank you very much.
After buying the inflatable pillow, though, I began to look for ways to duplicate its helpfulness. Before the end of the day, I learned that I could make a useable pillow out of a large towel or a small blanket. On Wednesday I brought a towel to work—a Strawberry Shortcake beach towel that no one has used for a few years. It felt odd to be carrying a towel to work when it was not Towel Day, but the relief was worth any slight embarrassment. The towel needs to be adjusted every so often, but that means that I am standing from time to time, taking weight off my injury.
I am using towels at home and at work and the inflatable pillow in my car. Sitting on that pillow behind the steering wheel, I feel as if I am driving a borrowed car. The angle is a little different for the brake pedal, the accelerator pedal, and all the mirrors. I also feel a bit out of balance, especially when driving on curves. So far I have not lost control of the car, but at times I have had to slow down and concentrate to keep myself safe.
Aside from sitting, the most painful experience with this injury is rising from sitting to standing. Getting out of the car has become a complicated exercise in contortionism. One never notices the intricate motions involved in standing up until one has reminders like a painful coccyx to indicate all the parts of the body that one must move in that simple change of posture.
Yesterday I took off from work two hours early to get some leaves raked from the lawn. I had done the front lawn on Saturday, but the back lawn was still carpeted with leaves. I started at the property line with Mrs. Dim’s yard and moved the leaves to the far side of the property, where I have created a giant leaf pile. Eventually, I hope to get those leaves to the curb for the park district, but the city has not yet picked up the first pile of leaves, and I have only so much curb space to fill with leaves.
I presume that Mrs. Dim does not approve of my leaf pile, but that does not concern me. If she does complain, I will simply tell her that I am doing the best that I can in my injured condition. I might even show her the bruise. J.