In the end, it all comes down to habits. We are creatures of habit. Some of our habits are good, such as brushing our teeth. Some of them are bad, such as smoking or eating too much. And some of them are SNEAKY. Here’s the second example of how a seemingly harmless habit directly resulted in months of pain.
Episode 2: The Case of the Malicious Sofa
As with my last story about my Big Toe, this also happened during my time in Chiropractic School. This time I was much further along in my education. I was already in the clinic…meaning that the classroom time was less intense. It was more focused on seeing patients and we only had a handful of classes. So there was a bit more downtime. But that downtime was spent hitting the books studying for our Chiropractic National Boards.
During this time I started to develop pain in the lower mid-back region. The thoracolumbar junction area to be terminologically correct. This pain would also travel up the outer rib cage area on my right side. It was a combination of pain, stiffness, and muscle spasms. Sometimes it was mild in nature. Other times it was quite substantial…causing me to experience pain with each breath. At times it would “catch” on me, causing me to jerk or wince in pain.
Since I was already in the clinic at this point, my friends and I spent all our days learning to adjust each other and to treat various conditions. So I naturally turned to them to see if they could help with my discomfort. Sometimes the treatments would help. Sometimes treatments would aggravate the pain. So I climbed the ladder, asked my professors and clinicians to help. Same results.
If you read my last story, you already know the ending. It was a bad habit I was doing. One that I had no idea I was doing. One that nobody asked me about or warned me about. Something stupid that….when you look back on it with hindsight you say…”Well Duh!”
The nefarious villain? My sofa. Or rather…the WAY I was USING my sofa. I’d switched apartments, causing a rearrange of where my television and sofa were situated. I’d always study when watching television, even if just to review things. So I’d balance my book/notes on the armrest and read them. But to do this, I’d place my legs up on the sofa off to my left side. And I’d lean my entire body over the armrest. Resting with the right side of my rib cage on the armrest. And it was perfectly comfortable. I could sit there for hours. And not have the least bit of discomfort.
I wish I had a more memorable “A-HA!!!” moment like I did with the Sandals. But I don’t really remember how I finally put two and two together. I think I was a bit more cognizant about the whole thing after the sandal episode. But it still took several months before I realized what was going on. Once I corrected my studying/watching posture, the pain drifted away over the course of a couple of weeks.
In the end, I didn’t completely stop sitting that way. It was, after all, really comfortable WHILE doing it. And I could focus really well. Instead, I just limited my time. I’d read a chapter on the right armrest. Then read the next chapter on the left armrest. Then make myself sit on the floor for the next chapter. Constantly moving myself around. And the problem went away.
As for my solution….I should mention that I still do this to this day. If I’m reading a book or sitting in on a conference, I’m constantly wiggling around like a mad man to keep myself from settling in one position for too long. And if you’re ever at a conference or presentation that will be an extended period of time (longer than about an hour) please sit in the MIDDLE and not off to the side, so you don’t rotate your body the entire time.