Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Build Up

Yesterday, when I started my day with my neck hurting more than usual, I put on my "work through it" face, and went about my normal activities.  I went to appointments in the morning, ran some errands in the afternoon, and went to catch the bus home.  My backpack was digging into my right shoulder, making my neck hurt even more, but I kept going until I reached the same bus stop, at the same intersection, at the same time I normally catch it.  Shielded from the breeze by the three-sided enclosure, I sat on the bench waiting for the 2:15 to arrive.
I kept trying to find a comfortable position to wait in, but my neck wasn't feeling any relief.  I was ready to be home, get into comfortable clothes, and relax the muscles straining to keep my head upright all day.  As I saw my bus round the corner, I stepped out of the enclosure, raised out my hand with my ticket in it, and made no eye contact.  It zoomed by.  Darn it!  Okay, I told myself, next bus comes in a half an hour.  I sat back down to wait, this time taking off my backpack, and attempted to roll my head in circles to stretch the muscles.  My neck wasn't having it.  Each time I got my head in just the right position, I managed to shake right out of it.  My grouchiness was climbing.
By the time the 2:45 rolled around, I did the same thing, stepping out from the enclosure, flagged down the bus, and watched as it passed me by a second time.  I considered walking home, like I normally would when the two buses in a row pass me by, but by then the pain in my neck was increasing, and I was ready to cry.  I called my TB to vent my frustrations.  She suggested I call the bus company to complain.  I decided to take the shorter walk directly to the bus station, and inform them of this ongoing problem.  I was heated, but also exhausted.
When I arrived at the bus station, I found a lovely young woman seated behind the ticket window, playing solitaire on her cell phone.  She smiled as I walked up, and I gave her the friendliest smile I could muster.
"I have a bit of a problem, and I'm wondering if you can help." I said
"What seems to be the problem?" she said as she turned her phone over and gave me her complete attention.
"I have a permanent head tremor, and as you can see, it looks like I'm saying no all the time.  The problem is, it has become a regular occurrence that the bus passes me by at the bus stop, even though I am flagging them down.  They think I am telling them 'No, I don't want you to stop.'  I'm wondering if you could inform the drivers that I would actually like to catch the bus."
"Um, okay, so you can't stop shaking your head?"
"Let me call my supervisor."  As she dialed the phone, I rested my head in my hand against the counter.
"Uh, hi sir.  I have a customer here who is having a slight issue, I'm going to put her on the phone."
She handed me the phone, and again I put on my sweet as sugar voice.  I again, explained the situation. His response sounded like this was a prank call.
"So let me get this straight.  Your head looks like it's saying no all the time, and the bus doesn't stop?  And you can't make your head stop saying no?
"And how often do you ride the bus?"
"And the bus driver thinks you are saying no?"
"Ummmm.  Okay, here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to try to inform as many bus drivers on your route that they should look out for the woman saying no."
I thanked him for his attention in the matter, and then went outside to wait for the bus that HAS to stop at the depot.  I chuckled a bit to myself, thinking about how the supervisor probably hadn't heard that complaint before.
When I finally arrived home, an hour later than I had expected, I felt like I was ready to drop.  But I didn't.  I again decided to "work through the pain" and check email, watch my cousin's live concert from Germany, and make dinner.  I managed to get in my pajamas by a little after seven and had a phone conversation with a friend.  By 8:30, my body was yelling at me to get in bed and relax, so I finally did.  This morning when I awoke from a terribly restless and uncomfortable sleep, the pain in my neck and shoulders, had migrated into a throbbing headache, only made worse by the constant movement.  It took every ounce of energy I had to stumble downstairs to the kitchen and take ibuprofen.  I acknowledged to myself that I had worn myself down yesterday, not paying enough attention to my pain level to stop it before it climbed any higher, and made the decision to climb back in bed.  I gave myself permission to rest my eyes for another couple hours.
Although I managed to effectively explain my frustration and concern at the bus station, as well as accomplish a lot yesterday, I ended up paying the price today.  I could very well have sat at the bus stop to catch the bus, and called the bus company.  It would have been fine if I left email to be checked today, I should have paid attention to the increase in pain, and done something about it earlier in the day.  Could have, should have, would have.  It is such a fine balance of priorities, and sometimes it is difficult to figure out which ones need to be dealt with immediately, and which ones can be held off, even for a day.  Lesson learned is: Overextending myself one day, leads to a delay in productivity the next day.

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