Puzzle Pain: Downward-facing dad

Cramps, cuts and the coronavirus

I feel OK mentally and emotionally, and as far as I know, the virus hasn’t come to our home.

Physically, though, I’ve been better.

I seem to have developed a new ailment my wife and child have dubbed “Puzzle Pain.” It typically strikes men in their early 50s who sit on the couch for too many hours and stare at little pieces of cardboard on the coffee table in front of them.

I tested positive for Puzzle Pain after I was unable to find that stupid piece that would complete a cloud or a tree or something and shouting “this puzzle is flawed it’s missing a piece.” I stood up and realized at that very second that people probably aren’t made to hunch over, immobile, for four to five hours at a time in some weird yoga-like crouch. Particularly when they’re me.

Therapy for this particular injury, it seems, is to let your wife and kid laugh at you for a little bit as you hobble out of the room, and then go get more coffee. In other words, take a break.

It turns out the coronavirus, and the associated quarantine/stay-at-home order, brings with it a unique roster of maladies – some of which have been visited upon mine self. Stress and other emotional tests can result in a sensitive nervous system and physical pains. According to experts, here are some of the things you may have experienced since we all went home from work about five weeks ago:

Headaches
A global pandemic can put a little more stress on our day-to-day lives, and that’ll give you a headache. Add-in endless hours of screen time – tension from poor posture and crouching over laptops all day – and it’s a miracle if you haven’t ended the day with a pounding.

Back pain
No commute. No walk to work. The gym is closed. It’s become very easy to get into a routine of doing nothing. Actually, this one may be a precursor to Puzzle Pain. According to the Globe and Mail:

“Our lower backs have a natural inward curvature,” says registered physiotherapist Rochelle Chung. “If the curvature is lost for a prolonged period of time – such as when we’re sitting on a couch – it can cause those tissues to fatigue or overload, leading to low-back problems and hip tightness.”

Knee/ankle pain
The gym is closed, so the flat, predictable terrain of the treadmill sits just beyond the locked doors of the no-judgement zone. Roadways, especially in New Hampshire and especially at the end of frost heave season, can present unexpected dips, holes and obstacles. Be careful out there. The treatment, according to experts, is the time-tested RICE (rest, ice compression and elevation.)

Burns, cuts, scrapes
Catered meetings, lunch delivery and brown bagged sandwiches that were once part of our daily routine were left behind more than a month ago. We’re in the kitchen a lot more, right next to the knives and open flames. I’m no doctor, but I prescribe the following: Don’t be clumsy around that stuff. That said, if you do nick yourself or suffer some kind of minor injury, the experts have some of their own advice – if you don’t have to go to the doctor’s office or urgent care facility, don’t. Consumer Reports offers this explanation: “Not only are many healthcare workers overwhelmed, but there’s a higher possibility of exposure to the coronavirus in these places than at home.”

If you think you might need to see someone, pick up the phone, of course.

“If you think you need to see someone, always call your doctor’s office first – sometimes they may be able to troubleshoot with a telemedicine visit. And if you suspect an emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.” (Consumerreports.org.)

Armed with this knowledge, I’ve re-entered the puzzle arena. Only now I take breaks and feel rejuvenated. As far as you know.

I still never found that sky piece.

Categories: Dad on Bored