#32 Bowling Balls and a ChairPosted: November 3, 2012
This May a pinched nerve in my lower back began to run my life. I’m familiar with deteriorating bones and dilapidated discs, but suddenly and I do mean suddenly, I could only walk bent at the waist with my face parallel to the ground. The pain would go away if I sat with my left leg bent at the knee and my foot flat on the chair. I drove with my foot on the car seat. One evening I went to a movie with friends and drove like that. When I bought my ticket, I practically rested my face on the counter. But when we got to our seats I found relief. The flat of the seat tilted. I could raise it in the front, shoving my fanny to the back. Apparently the angle took pressure off the nerve.
I adjusted controls on my car seat which comes pretty close. I’ve had three injections to relieve the pain. The best of surgeons in Pennsylvania and Maryland described the rods and pins needed in my back. I bought a new motorized mattress and I’ve had months of physical therapy.
The last detail was my desk chair. The pleasant chair that matches my furniture is now torture. So writing was torture. I had to have a chair like the movie seat. I found one at an office furniture store in a strip mall. The woman running the office told me all about her back surgery a decade earlier and showed me the cockpit-like gearshifts on her chair. Then she showed me the chair of my dreams and I ordered it.
I looked forward to the chair. I visualized how it would feel sitting cross legged in the chair. A week later when it arrived, first I picked up my laptop at the computer repair place and did some errands. The woman who managed the store was alone but assured me she could get it to my van and told me to move it closer to the door. I opened up the back and put down the seats.
When I saw the manager carrying the chair over her shoulders I knew I could handle it. It has wheels doesn’t it? She had already turned back to her office as I asked if there were instructions. With her back to me, she said something like I’d figure it out. One leg of the chair protruded, so I pushed on it to close the back door. It wouldn’t budge. I put my body behind it, and was able to close the van door and headed home.
I pulled into my parking spot behind the building and walked around to open the back of the van and tugged at the new chair. And when I pulled enough, dragged enough, it slammed on to the pavement in two pieces. Oh crap.
I tried to pick up the seat by the arms. Maybe I could put everything on its side to get the seat back in to the base. Finally I got it back together. The next problem clicked like a light bulb. How would I walk around to the other side and let go of the chair? It was too heavy to get back in to the car. Instead of wheeling the chair over to the passenger door I got it to stay still. Good chair. I rushed to the side door, put the laptop case over my shoulder, grabbed the purse and package to put them on the chair before it started moving. I wheeled it like a grocery cart to the back entrance. Then another light bulb. It’s downhill which only matters on ice or on wheels. Just as I went around the corner trying to remember if there was a curb cut, I knew I should get in front of the chair so it couldn’t get away from me. Too late. It rolled away zero to sixty as I grabbed for it. At about the same time the laptop, my purse, the package and I, hit the cement. The air went out of me with a little scream.
Once I was done falling, I checked for damage. No blood, no rip in my black tights. Not even a scratch on what I thought was a broken wrist. I heaved on to my feet as a young man leaned out of the back of the moving van in front of me and said, “You okay?”
I hauled the chair up on to the sidewalk without losing the top. I didn’t have high hopes for the laptop but slung the case over my shoulder. I put everything else on the seat. The next light bulb clicked. With the van in the loading dock, the freight elevator was busy. I pushed what was now the biggest chair of my life down the back hall into the lobby. I stood in the lobby pretending I wasn’t pushing a chair, and waited for the only elevator working that day. When the door opened, I rolled past the rush hour pedestrian traffic. Feeling like both Laurel and Hardy, I pushed to the back of the car and pressed 19.
The weight of the chair dug in to the carpet. I was the last passenger left, and I shoved the chair down the carpeted hall and wheeled it across my carpeted apartment to my desk. I also plugged in the laptop to see if there was any chance it still worked. It did.
So I looked up the information on the chair. There were no instructions, just pictures of all the levers and detailed dimensions including weight; 52 pounds. I had just wrangled the equivalent of five bowling balls down a paved hill. I might as well have dropped my new chair out the window.
One of the many levers just dangles. But the one that helps my back is fine.