Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Stress-neck, and a shoutout to my Father-in-Law

It has been my experience that during periods of high stress, the body reacts poorly. It's as if it wasn't built with anxiety in mind. Some might refer to these physical symptoms of stress as psychosomatic disorders, the mind playing tricks on us to divert us from whatever unpleasantness we happen to be going through. "You think dealing with your rebellious kid is difficult...wait until you get a load of this killer migraine!!!"

In my case it's always been intestinal eruptions of some kind. I will not go into any of the gory details, but whatever you might be imagining is probably not as disgusting as it actually is. Pretty horrible. But lately, ministers of grace be praised, my intestines have been functioning like a well oiled machine....which may be the single worst metaphor I have ever written. No, the new physical manifestation of stress for me is...a stiff neck.

I first noticed this strange phenomenon a couple of weeks ago. I had printed out a 40 page FAQ produced by my broker-dealer which attempted to explain the upcoming regulatory mandate from our friends at the Department of Labor. I had set aside an uninterrupted hour to read through the thing, when about fifteen minutes in I felt my neck tighten up. By the time I finished about an hour later, my neck felt exactly like it feels when you wake up after sleeping on it funny. I had a crick in my neck, out of nowhere!!

Since that day it has come and gone at least five times that I can count. The last sighting was last night when I was talking to Pam about work worries. One minute I was absolutely fine, the next minute I couldn't hold my head upright without big time pain. Taking muscle relaxers and Aleve helps some, but what really helps is to stop thinking about the Department of Labor regulations. Which means...it's all in my head...right?

This is a bizarre thing for me to accept. If there's really nothing physically wrong with my neck, and therefore no good reason for it to be hurting, why can't I prevent it from happening? How is it possible for nothing more than a worrisome thought to inflict real pain? For me, this is no different than telekinesis, something that really isn't a thing, except in the movies. I should be better than this. I should be able to worry about stuff, or more accurately...be concerned about something without having to deal with muscle spasms!

Speaking of causes of high stress, my Father-in-law's birthday is today. Although I couldn't resist making a joke at his expense, nothing could be less stressful than an encounter with Russ White! He turns 80 today. He doesn't look it or, even better, act it. My wife, in no small part, is the person she is because of the fine example of kindness and goodness illustrated for her by her father. Russ is a good man in a world where good men are harder and harder to find. He's smart, funny and devoted to his family. Although he remains a loyal Redskins fan for reasons that are unclear, he did introduce me to the agony and ecstasy of Red Sox baseball, which is something for which I'm not sure I should thank or blame him. In the nearly 33 years that I have been married to his oldest daughter, he has always been supportive of us and an ally on whom I could depend. He has been a loving and proud grandfather to my children, and if they will get on the ball, Russ will no doubt be a stellar Great-grandfather. Even though 80 sounds old, when I think about Russ, I don't think of that word. He's just not old. I really can't explain it, but if you know him, you probably know what I mean. So, happy birthday, Russ!