Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Crick in my Back, Thorn in My Side

I’m almost home, having flown clear across the Pacific, realizing halfway there that I’d flubbed my arrival time by three hours and my lovely, forgiving family would be awfully confused. Connecting through Seattle, I immediately felt shrunken, no longer a tall, blond head standing out from the crowd of petite Koreans, but a diminutive girl with a backpack like a giant tortoise shell. House on my back…

Speaking of my back, it’s been in a state of disrepair these past few weeks, aching in protest of the 81 shows we did in Seoul. Honestly, this left-lower back pain is nothing new, a vestige of gymnastics that is undoubtedly aggravated by contortion on a metal hoop (a difficult situation to explain on an insurance claim form). So, simply as a fact-finding mission, my Cirque physiotherapists recommended an MRI while in Seoul.

I must say, the Samsung Hospital is excellent (giving me all the more reason to think our own health care system leaves something to be desired), though the nurse had an absolute giggle fit about the fact that I have my navel pierced, a real shocker in Korea I guess. The nurses and attendants escort you everywhere, constantly checking and reassuring and bowing and such… patients need not fear the all-too-common abandonment in a desolate exam room. Fortunately, the scan showed my spine to be in excellent condition, save for some inflammation in “one of those ligaments” according to the doctor, who perhaps did not realize he had a biology major on his hands and dumbed things down accordingly. He recommended I rest, take “pills”, and “try some stretching exercises” (really… you don’t say…) I’m hoping it’s nothing a good rest, gentle yoga, some swimming, and some California air won’t fix.

Knowing I had a good twelve hours of sitting ahead of me, I called the airline and requested an aisle seat so that I could get up and do some of those prescribed stretches more often. At the same time, I requested a vegetarian meal and was told that all was in order. This morning, though, I was informed by an exceedingly polite flight attendant that there was a window seat with my name on it, plus a reservation for a Hindu vegetarian meal. I tried to remedy the situation, imagining myself squished into the wall, enveloped by a cloud of curry. In fact, I wasn’t far off, though the teeny-ness of the elderly Koreans sitting in my row, along with the mildness of the curry made the whole thing bearable.

Still, I’m thinking of my next long flight to Shanghai and hoping to be dealt a kinder hand in the air travel game, one that allows for my restlessness and my need to do a good hamstring stretch now and again. My friend told me it helps to say you’re pregnant (and what, window seats are bad for fetuses?) but I have a hard enough time convincing people I’m not an unaccompanied minor when traveling, so I’m not sure that’s a good tactic. We’ll see. Until then, I’m keeping my feet on the soil of my home state and my mind on the revitalizing weeks ahead.