Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Year of the Cat - Eve Ainsworh

A few months ago I posted about my back problems. Oh the fun I was having then! Writing a few pages and then limping off my chair in agony, grumbling at the cat and eating biscuits to cheer myself up.

Quite quickly it dawned on me that my previous fantasies about the wonder of being able to sit and freely write at a computer was complete and utter rubbish. My daydreams had LIED to me. This was not an easy process. Writing was painful both mentally and physically and I was fed up. I moaned at the cat again, but he just looked at me – smug expression on his face - and pranced gracefully away.

Then, thankfully, after a few months of physio, lots of walking and a change of mattress – my back problems seemed to improve. I was happy. I finished book three with fewer problems. I was still eating biscuits.

But now I’m here and I have an entirely different issue.

It started with pain in my arm. Not triggered by typing, I hasten to add, but by kneading dough to make hot cross buns for 48 people. This is not something I recommend unless you have the arms of Popeye. Within weeks, the pain had spread to my neck and suddenly it felt as if I had a metal fist gripping the top of my spine. A metal fist that was plugged into mains electricity.

This is not nice at all.

It is especially not nice when all ‘looking down’ activity becomes so uncomfortable. So this includes writing, reading and completing my ‘which cat are you’ quizzes on Facebook. This is practically my entire day. I started grumbling at the cat again. I ate more biscuits.

The doctor was sympathetic, but realistic. “It’s your posture. It’s because you write.” She said with a sad smile. “Try shifting position. Move around. Get a massage.”

I shifted positions and I moved regularly, but my head was still as stiff as the piece of hot cross bun I found discarded down the back of my sofa. I liked the idea of a massage, but this cost money. Of course, like most writers I’m not exactly rolling in spare cash so this wasn’t a viable option. Not unless my kids wanted to eat stale hot cross buns that day…

My husband tried, bless him. Well, he put his hands around my neck.

I think it was an attempt at a massage…

I started to grumble at the cat again. And then I watched as the cat uncurled itself carefully from his coiled position. I watched him stretch gently front paws and back. Then he tipped his head, licking the back of his neck – each movement fluid and with care. The cat does this several times a day. As did my dog. They get themselves into the tightest, weirdest positions and then they stretch out of it.

A lightbulb went off. Ok the lightbulb blew, but I wasn’t changing that – not with my neck.

I started to watch some Youtube videos, some basic Yoga moves and followed some of the simpler ones. Now, every morning and evening I stretch and after a typing session, I work on my shoulders and neck. And it’s helping. The cat even looks at me with a kind ‘I told you so’ expression on his face. Either that or he needs worming again.

I might even treat myself to a Yoga class soon.

I can use the money I saved in biscuit consumption….
Eve Ainsworth is the author of Crush and 7 Days (Scholastic)  7 Days was nominated for the 2015/16 Carnegie Medal and was winner of the Dudley Teen Prize and FAB Books Prize 2016


Joan Lennon said...

Ah, the wisdom of cats. (Dogs too, of course, but mostly cats.) Now if I can just remember to follow their - and your - example!

John Dougherty said...

Great advice, Eve. Someone ought to do a 'stretching for writers' video...

Penny Dolan said...

Hard to remember and look after your body when you're living inside a book world, where it's possible to do so many feats so easily. Scale that wall? No problem! Skate? Dive? Run for hours across uncharted moorland? etc etc. However the real body does have an annoying habit of seizing up so your "Stretching Like a Cat" is really good advice, Eve. (Think I'll do the Curl Up and Nap first, though.)

Nick Green said...

Congratulations, Eve! You have just independently discovered pashki!

I wrote a whole trilogy about what you just did there. ;-)

Eve Ainsworth said...

Oh my goodness, I never knew about Pashki - reading about it now! How interesting