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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!