The Blog

| January 26, 2017

Number 204

I Had a Pinched Nerve

...right next to my Funny Bone.

A couple of months ago, a tree fell on my head. Not a whole tree. That would have been bad. No, just an enormous piece of one, and a very heavy piece at that. Country living. These things happen.

What I noticed immediately…well…maybe not immediately. Immediately what I noticed were the cartoon stars floating everywhere (and it was only 1:00 in the afternoon) and the blood running down my forehead. Not a good look. Anyway, what I noticed next was a sharp pain in my arm. Like, really sharp. Like a knife. Ouch. I figured the pain would go away. The stars did, so why not the pain? Made sense. But no. It seems I struck a nerve.

I’d never done that before. Verbally, sure, but never physically. And it’s excruciating (great word, by the way). I had no idea. Any movement of my arm caused pain, so…I didn’t move my arm very much. Then the numbness in the fingertips started. Index and thumb. Hmmmmm. I didn’t move them much either.

The next day I happened to see a good friend who knows about such things, being a physical therapist and all. I told her about the tree and about the pain. She grabbed my arm – ow – then bent my fingers – ow again – then squeezed a spot on my elbow and for a second, the pain was lessened. She told me I had something with a fancy, Latin, medical-sounding name ending in -itis, which is basically a pinched nerve, and it would hurt like the dickens (I’ve always wondered what that meant – “the dickens” – curious as to what Charles Dickens could have done to always have his name associated with pain and nuisance, but it turns out it has nothing to do with Charles Dickens. “Dickens” is actually an Old English euphemism for the word “devil,” so that makes sense.) My therapist friend also said the ache/throb/sting/twinge would continue for about two months but eventually go away, as long as I did certain exercises and worked through the pain. You see where this is going, right?

When a metaphor gets handed to you on a silver platter, pay attention. Sometimes bad things happen, sometimes bad news comes your way, and sometimes a tree falls on your head (not a whole tree, hopefully, because that would be bad); whatever the case may be, don’t let these things immobilize you, at least not for too long, because that will only prolong the recovery.

And there you have it.

I woke up this morning, about two months after the tree incident, and realized the pain and the numbness were completely gone. It had happened gradually, a little at a time. I had total flexibility once again. And you want to know why? I think you already do. Say it with me – “Because I worked through the pain.”

Point made.


To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it! 
– Charlie Chaplin


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