This post brought to you by Advil

I’ve always promised myself that, if I ever feel compelled to blog about physical ailments, I will try to make it a) entertaining, and b) relevant to the theme of my blog (such as it is).

So here is my attempt.  You be the judge.

For the past several days, I have been walking like Mrs. Wiggins from the old Carol Burnett Show.  For those of you who don’t remember this classic, view the clip below at the 2:00 mark.

It’s lower back pain.  Yes, I’ve had it before. Yes, I know that I’m supposed to do a regular stretching and strengthening program, involving both the lower back and the abdominals, to prevent it.  I did that for several  years, after my last bout of Mrs. Wiggins-itis.

But in the last year, I’ve slacked.  I’ve also done stupid things like hunching over a netbook, in uncomfortable slouchy positions, at all hours of the day and night, blogging and tweeting and Facebooking and Bloglovin’ and God knows what else online.  So mild stiffness and pain have been my friends for awhile now.  And like the Slacker Queen of Denial that I am, I’ve ignored them.

But then, last weekend, I:

  1. went candelpin bowling for the first time ever (wicked fun, as we say in these parts),
  2. planted flowers,
  3. went for a long walk, and
  4. went for a long car ride.

It was I who got into the car, but it was “Mrs. H-Wiggins” who got out.  And  she is still with me, four days later.

Now, I’m trying to keep my complaints to a minimum.  Especially since my friend Pam over at Over 50 Feeling 40 – God love her – still went vintage shopping with a broken rib!

But man, I just have to say: I never realized how many of my basic beauty and style routines require bending.  Here are a few examples:

Hair product application

  • Usual technique:  Bend forward at waist, with head hanging upside down, and scrunch product into ends.
  • Current technique:  Bend no more than five degrees to the side.  Wince.  Scrunch.  Repeat on other side.  Let the back go.  Nobody looks there, anyway.

Makeup application

  • Usual technique:  Apply, in this order: moisturizer, foundation, eyelid concealer, undereye concealer, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, eyeshadow (2-step contouring process), mascara, blush, lip gloss.  Do all of this while slightly bent  forward toward bathroom mirror – because otherwise, I can’t see – with belly pressing lightly against sink for balance.
  • Current technique:  Skip 2nd step of 2-step eyeshadow process.  Skip eyeliner.  Skip eyebrows.  Stand back from mirror, no bending, and hope that mascara doesn’t wind up on cheeks by mistake.

Getting dressed

  • Usual technique:  Try on an outfit.  Reject outfit, remove, throw on floor.  Choose second outfit.  Approve outfit.  Put on jewelry.  Change mind, change jewelry.  Realize that jewelry isn’t problem, top is.  Change top.  Throw old top on floor.  Change back to old jewelry.  Pick up clothes from floor (maybe), drape on chair to hang later.
  • Current technique: Know that once an outfit is chosen and put on, the commitment is made.  There will be no changes.  Put on bottom-half items – underwear, skirt, and/or pants —  with same basic process:  brace self with right arm against wall, hold clothing item in left hand, hanging straight down toward the floor.  Find right leg hole (if applicable).  Gently lift right leg no more than 4 inches from floor and place inside garment, hopefully in the correct leghole.  Pull item up as far as knee.  Then, switch hands, lower item toward floor again, and repeat process on other side.  When both legs are inside the garment and stabilized, pull garment up and fasten.  Sigh.  Rest for a few moments.  Realize that favorite top is still on floor from yesterday.   Leave it there.  What falls on the floor stays on the floor.  Select and put on second-choice top. Realize that favorite necklace and earrings are in downstairs bathroom.  Screw it.

Putting on sandals:

  • Usual technique:  Put sandals on feet.  Bend at awkward angle to pull straps through buckles.  Swear because some genius at the sandal factory didn’t punch the holes in the straps properly, so it’s very difficult to a) find them and b) push the little pointy pieces through.
  • Current technique:  Perch on edge of sofa, bracing left arm against the side.  Lean to the left, bend right knee, and try to lift right leg up so that it rests on sofa with knee pointing forward and foot pointing backwards.  Swear, because this hurts.  Try to pull straps through buckle.  Finally succeed, on third try.  Try to find correct hole and push metal pointy piece through.  Swear again, because that bleeping bleep at the bleeping sandal factory is clearly trying to bleeping kill me!  Call for Mr. Frump to fasten shoes.

I will never take grooming rituals for granted again.  I’ve watched enough people enduring surgeries and long hospital stays, involving IVs and/or arms and legs in casts, so I know that my little challenges are nothing in the grand scheme of things.  I’ll be better in a few days.

But I can’t help being a little petulant, because I was supposed to go shoe shopping this week!  I’m scheduled to attend a graduation party for a very special young woman on Saturday, followed by an out-of-town family party the next day.

Fortunately, I’m improving enough so that I know I’ll be able to go.   I’m planning to wear a brown, knee-length pencil skirt and somewhat dressy top – with or without jacket, depending on weather.  Unfortunately, my only shoe choices are:

1)  My flat, brown, everyday sandals,

which – though not completely fugly, at least not in my view – are not nearly special enough, or

2) These open-toed shoes with a heel:

which I’m scared to wear even when I’m at full strength, and am certainly not going to wear when I’m having back pain, or

3)  These ones, with slightly less of a heel,

which may be a compromise – but which may just be too clunky, or not quite comfortable enough.

I had planned to look for a cute flat, or peep-toe, or wedge sandal – something that could dwell in the magic kingdom between dressy and casual.  But I don’t see any way that I can try on shoes in the next two days.

So what I’m going to have to do is try on all my different outfit possibilities, with all the different possible shoes, and see how they look.  Which seems like a great idea, but see “Getting dressed,” above.

Fugly sandals it is, then?  Bringing up every unflattering stereotype of middle-aged frumpitude that I can possibly think of?  I mean, why not just pick up a nice pair of nude knee-highs while I’m at it?

Oy, it makes my back hurt more, just thinking about it.

Advice?  Thoughts?  Beauty and style tips for the temporarily motion-impaired?  You know what to do!



About Anne @ The Frump Factor

Reflections on beauty and style, for women who weren't born yesterday. Bring your sense of humor and "Fight the Frump" with me!
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23 Responses to This post brought to you by Advil

  1. I love it that you call this ailment Mrs. Wiggin-nitis!! So funny…but I know the pain is not funny. My husband has lower back pain and I have many friends who struggle with it and it really does shut you down! The rib is quick to tell me when I am crossing the line and attempting too much and I think a back is much like that. i wish I had a remedy for you….I will be checking your reponses to see if anyone has a magic potion. Till then…take it easy and I really hope you can sleep!!

  2. Paula says:

    Anne, you always make me laugh! Sorry for your pain; evrey day I live pain free I am blessed. And we do take the simple evrey day routine for granted until you have to do it injured! The shoes? go practical for now–you will get better.

  3. Like Pam, I have a husband with LBP – he has to take-to-bed sometimes. So sorry you are experiencing this! You manage to make your new routines hilarious, even though you’re in pain.

    I don’t know if you’re allowed to imbibe, but this might be a nice time for a small glass of wine and a shameless Lifetime movie. Feel better soon!

  4. Sue says:

    Best line of the day: “I mean, why not just pick up a nice pair of nude knee-highs while I’m at it?” (I really needed that laugh.) I did something to my back about two weeks ago and for a week was where you are now, so I know what you’re going through.

    Given that it’s two parties, can you enlist the help of the hosts to strategically place chairs reserved just for you at each event, and then wear the heels because all you’ll have to do is (a) hobble from the car to the venue and (b) sit there and look elegant and wise? If anyone asks why you’re not dancing or mingling, just tell ’em you threw your back out of whack speed-climbing Mt. Monadnock, and because of the injury just missed the record.

    • I do like how you’re thinking, especially the tall tale about mountain climbing. (MIght work with people who’ve never met me before!) Unfortunately, sitting is the least comfortable thing of all. But I’m not going to have to walk far. So I might just get bold.

  5. Ann Marie says:

    I am not a Dr….and I don’t play one on TV…..but have you tried those new “pain patches” from Tylenol called Precise? Maybe with the help of a patch, you could wear some fancier shoes to the gala! Just my humble way of trying to help…….

  6. Gail says:

    The nude knee highs would certainly add a certain je ne sais quoi. My advice would be, to echo Ann Marie, get drugged up to the eyeballs and then wear your fanciest shoes.
    My sympathies….I was stricken with a bad bad about a year ago and it was terrible!

  7. redkathy says:

    Sorry about the back pain, I have no good advice. The post is hilarious though. Found you via the 40 and over blog hop. I’m your newest subscriber.

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Rae says:

    ROFL laughing at your description of getting dressed as it is so simlar to mine! Of course rolling on the floor laughing is no easy matter with our backs! I am really trying to unglue mine as I am now moving like my friend who has a seriously damaged knee and mine is just from not moving enough and my own fault

    I do hope you get loosened up soon, I can’t bear the thought of you having to wear fugly shoes 😦 nobody deserves that

  9. BigD says:

    While I’ve only had that whole back-thing happen to me once, it was a horrifying eye-opener to! I’m feelin’ for you.
    I can commune with you on fashion pain when it comes to feet. I have bunions. UGH!
    No more cute shoes for me! I cling to the ones I have, and am selective about when/where/how long I wear them.
    Do you remember the old Billy Crystal skit on Saturday Night Live: “It is better to look good than to feel good!”?
    I used to think that, but I’ve gotten wiser in my old age.
    I say go with the compromise heeled sandals, with drugs.

    • Wise advice. The first party was yesterday, and that’s exactly what I did. The compromise shoes looked and felt great! I was amazed. I’d forgotten how comfy they were, and (I think) they look cuter in person than in the pictures. I definitely did not have the frumpiest shoes in the room. (I always check for that). 🙂

  10. I don’t envy sufferers of LBP. Yikes. I am a big proponent of herbal anti-infammatories- Turmeric and Mangosteen specifically. Taken on a regular basis, these supplements reduce inflammation and therefore the cause of inflamationary diseases like arthritis etc.

    Your humor is appreciated. I hope you feel better fast!

  11. Melinda Hobausz says:

    Hmmm. I do sympathize. It is terrible to be in pain, and worse when you have to actually “perform.” I kind of like the drug route–very effective if used infrequently. If you don’t have a foot that is too hard to fit, you could order from Zappos (is that how you spell?) and then hope that you find one pair. Return the rest. I have a very hard foot to fit. I actually went to Panza Shoes last week. They specialize in difficult feet. The sales person was wonderful, but since I think I tried on every pair in the store (with only one success), I think she was relieved to see me go! The good news is that I now know my actual shoe size–even though they don’t make many of them either here or in Europe….Good luck with the back and the events.

  12. I know I should have commented earlier. I am getting so much slower…it must be my age! You made me laugh. Now you know how I feel and I do not have back pain…I am 69. All I could think was “just shoot me now!”

    Get better soon and keep this blog going forever.


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