Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Back Off - We're All Mad Here
You can tell I'm mad because I have straw in my hair.
Back Off
I wrenched my back over the weekend. I didn't do it during any of the physically demanding activities in which I participated, naturally; I slipped standing up and caught myself at a weird angle. It's unpleasantly painful, as you might expect, but basically manageable in any one posture. It's only transferring between positions that's presenting me with significant difficulty.

As far as I can tell, the reason that my back hurts when I try to change my posture is that the muscles are clenching. Of course, the reason that the muscles are clenching is that my back hurts. It's a clever little self-fulfilling prophecy of pain, and I've got to say, I don't really get the point. This seems about as evolutionarily useful as sweaty palms in response to stress. If my muscles weren't clamping down when I tried to use them, I wouldn't have the pain; in fact, if they hadn't tensed up when I slipped initially, I might not have the injury at all. Cats have it right; when you feel yourself falling, you relax. That's the way to land safely.

It hasn't been all bad, though. For one thing, I seem to be confusing people with the dissonance between my words and tone of voice. "You look like your back hurts," they'll say, noticing me hobbling around, unable to straighten my spine.

"It does," I'll respond cheerfully. "I twisted it pretty badly."

They look at me oddly. "So, it -- doesn't that hurt?"

"Oh yes, quite a lot," I say happily. Which it does, but I don't think complaining about it is likely to make it hurt less. I assure you, if I had any reason to think that'd be helpful, you'd never get me to stop whining.

Additionally, I've taken the opportunity to build Slapdash Standing Desk 1.5, the finest in slapdash chairless desk technology. Many people go out and spend money on raised desks and other such frivolities; as you can see from the picture, I've simply created my standing desk by piling computer books and booklets full of CDs on my existing desk until I reached the desired height. I briefly used Slapdash Standing Desk 1.0, where the monitor was not raised, but that seemed like a good way to give myself a crick in my neck. The addition of the UPS box raised the version number to 1.5, which as you can see received my seal of approval.

My back problem will likely resolve itself in a few days, and I may just disassemble my standing desk after that. On the other hand, this is supposed to be better for you, anyway; perhaps I should look into getting a real standing desk. It's a lot more likely that I'll just throw a cloth over the various stacks and call it Slapdash 2.0, though.

Mood of the Moment: cheerful cheerful
Auditory Hallucination: And One -- Military Fashion Show

3 comments or Leave a comment
merle_ From: merle_ Date: December 20th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
This seems about as evolutionarily useful as sweaty palms in response to stress.

Yeah. It's also why after being hit by a car your muscles will seize up in insane pain after a few hours, even though you may still need to run away from said vehicle, or be able to get to a hospital. Stupid supposed intelligent design.

My monitor currently sets atop an ancient SCSI enclosure and a .5 speed CD writer. At work, piles of packs of paper (albeit nicely wrapped in red paper so as to look purposeful). I heartily agree with your reuse of items.

And the beard. Although as well as sideburns, goatees are currently in, so you may want to grow one or not, depending on your contrary mood or a roll of the dice. (I'm thinking of shaving mine off and leaving that part bare just to see how it looks, but the sideburns stay in some format)
jaimefeu From: jaimefeu Date: December 21st, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think complaining about it is likely to make it hurt less

Not complaining - cursing! Just run around your office yelling expletives.


Why the #$%! Do We Swear? For Pain Relief

Bad language could be good for you, a new study shows. For the first time, psychologists have found that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain.

The study, published today in the journal NeuroReport, measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the chilly exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer.

Although cursing is notoriously decried in the public debate, researchers are now beginning to question the idea that the phenomenon is all bad. "Swearing is such a common response to pain that there has to be an underlying reason why we do it," says psychologist Richard Stephens of Keele University in England, who led the study. And indeed, the findings point to one possible benefit: "I would advise people, if they hurt themselves, to swear," he adds.

How swearing achieves its physical effects is unclear, but the researchers speculate that brain circuitry linked to emotion is involved. Earlier studies have shown that unlike normal language, which relies on the outer few millimeters in the left hemisphere of the brain, expletives hinge on evolutionarily ancient structures buried deep inside the right half.

One such structure is the amygdala, an almond-shaped group of neurons that can trigger a fight-or-flight response in which our heart rate climbs and we become less sensitive to pain. Indeed, the students' heart rates rose when they swore, a fact the researchers say suggests that the amygdala was activated.

That explanation is backed by other experts in the field. Psychologist Steven Pinker of Harvard University, whose book The Stuff of Thought (Viking Adult, 2007) includes a detailed analysis of swearing, compared the situation with what happens in the brain of a cat that somebody accidentally sits on. "I suspect that swearing taps into a defensive reflex in which an animal that is suddenly injured or confined erupts in a furious struggle, accompanied by an angry vocalization, to startle and intimidate an attacker," he says.

But cursing is more than just aggression, explains Timothy Jay, a psychologist at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts who has studied our use of profanities for the past 35 years. "It allows us to vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness," he remarks. "It's like the horn on your car, you can do a lot of things with that, it's built into you."

In extreme cases, the hotline to the brain's emotional system can make swearing harmful, as when road rage escalates into physical violence. But when the hammer slips, some well-chosen swearwords might help dull the pain.

There is a catch, though: The more we swear, the less emotionally potent the words become, Stephens cautions. And without emotion, all that is left of a swearword is the word itself, unlikely to soothe anyone's pain.
arovd From: arovd Date: December 22nd, 2011 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooo back injuries are the worst. How about just raising the whole desk though? A few cinder blocks under each leg, maybe?

I mean, after your back is better and all... I don't suggest you try moving it now. That would just be dumb.
3 comments or Leave a comment