Getting my Mojo Back

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Remember when Austin Powers lost his mojo? Actually, it was stolen by Dr. Evil in round 2 of the ridiculously funny James Bond send-off – Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

For those not up on your silly movies, Austin’s “mojo” was basically the essence of his appeal and sexual prowess. Not to put to fine a point on the analogy, (ahem!) but I lost my mojo in 1990, when I had my first lumbar laminectomy.

What I mean by that is I left behind the realm of active, healthy, indestructible youth and moved into the scary realm of permanent spinal injury (or so I thought). In doing so, I felt like I was exchanging a life of skiing and climbing and frisbee and tennis and basketball and playing in a college band for a young adulthood restricted (seemingly) to walking for exercise, finding a job that didn’t require too much sitting and, at least for the depressing time being, living in my mother’s basement and losing myself in books and pain medication.

Even after I “recovered” and learned that I could agressively mountain bike and hold a job and NOT live in mom’s basement, I thought of myself as permanently injured – disabled, really. When I was invited to play Ultimate Frisbee, or go downhill skiing or even just to jog around the park, I “had a bad back” and couldn’t participate anymore – ever.

I built my life around this disability, begging airline clerks for the bulkhead, calling ahead to hotels to query them on bed hardness and ruling out long car roadtrips because I was positive they would cripple me. Vacations filled me with dread that my back would go “out”; I even bought a car with lots of head room and a fancy bed to protect myself.

So a couple of weeks ago I read a book that offered up a radical idea (see “Living a Lie”): I don’t have a permanent spine injury after all. Instead, I channel stress to my lower back – including the stress of believing that I’m permanently disabled – which robs my muscles of oxygen and causes back and leg pain. Just reading this had the effect of making me feel instantly better – it even cured a six-month foot pain problem.

I’ve now stopped sleeping with a pillow between my legs, and lo and behold, I’m not waking up with backaches. And when my back starts to hurt, I think emotionally, not physically, as in, what negative stuff am I thinking about that is making me hurt? And the pain goes away – I’m not kidding.

So as I head into this weekend I’m thinking about going for a little jog – today I was even shopping for tennis racquets online! Riding my bike feels different, walking feels different – it’s like I’ve let go of this tense feeling of dread and expectation that I was carrying around like a gremlin in my lower back.

As Austin would say, I’m getting my mojo back, baby!



4 responses to “Getting my Mojo Back

  1. Yeah baby! Chris, it is so cool to be reading this and thinking of you feeling better and less apprehensive about your back. Good luck and keep posting!

  2. Oh Behave, Rachel! Thanks for your support, you rock!

  3. Chris, your blog reminds me so much of my Dad and his struggles with Post-Polio Syndrome. His first waking thought EVERY day would be about how he was feeling. It became the topic of conversation, bleeding in no matter what the subject. If your mind is always preoccupied with back pain, then that’s what’s always on your mind. Despite all this, he was always able to overcome his pain if he had plans to go golfing, his other obsession. The pain was probably still there, but with his mind focused on making a five-foot putt, it went away.

    Keep up the good work with your blog! And I had no idea that was a pillow between your legs…

  4. Matt! Good to hear from you and thanks for that comparison – I really am starting to believe you are what you think. So many times I have surprised myself with what I’ve been able to do despite my back – then just as many times fear of my injury has prevented me from indulging in the simple pleasures of life. I’m tired of my injury dominating my persona – and embarassed and frustrated that it has for so many years. Writing and reading about it is extremely liberating.

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