This is not an idiom that I have thought about very much since childhood, but recently it has been on my radar. It’s a very useful phrase in May inside a school building, because I can look at most of the faculty and staff and see on their faces that singular thought: “Right now my kids are a pain in the neck.” It’s a natural part of the struggle to get to the finish line of any school year.
Last Friday I went in to the box early to make up a shoulder press workout before teaching the usual 6am crew. I probably should have warmed up more, but I wanted to be finished with my session prior to the arrival of the morning class folks. On my second-to-last effort, I was straining a bit to make the 5th rep in working toward a 5-rep-max, broke down in form a bit… and almost immediately afterward felt a pain. A pain in the neck. That extended over the top of my right shoulder a bit. I wasn’t happy about it, but I knew it wasn’t an injury and that I would mobilize it and recover accordingly. (That’s why I carry a lacrosse ball in my purse, as the Oakland Airport learned when I traveled.)
That same day, I was working on the computer when Husband asked me to feel around Sounder puppy’s neck. “Feel that bump, or that lump?” he asked. No, actually, I didn’t want to feel it because Sounder is a crucial part of our small family unit and I didn’t want to think about even the remote possibility of him being sick. He kept rubbing and searching until he found it, near the upper part of Sounder’s right shoulder and near his neck area. “There, right there. Feel that.” I was able to feel it then, and I wondered, fleetingly, if Sounder puppy had a cancerous lump? My gut said no, but all weekend he was lethargic and sometimes even throwing up. Apparently, I was not the only one in the family who had a pain in the neck. Literally.
Yesterday Husband took the Wonder Bassett to the vet so she could examine his lump. She drew some fluid, seemed unfazed by the appearance of the lump, and prescribed antibiotics for it accordingly. She said his lethargy and upset stomach were probably related to his body coping with the lump, but it was not a cause for concern overall. Have him take his meds this week, she said, and bring him back on Friday. We’ll sedate him to clean his teeth, do the super toenail maintenance, and deal with his bump all in one fell swoop. Whew. Sigh of relief.
As of this afternoon, Sounder has had exactly three doses of his pill, which we give him with peanut butter (does that work with humans, too?), since he’s supposed to take one pill every twelve hours. Upon entering the house today, Sounder came bounding down the stairs with his tail in high gear, as if to say, “Mommommom! I’m better! I feel better!” Even this morning before work, Husband reported that the lump felt significantly smaller than yesterday. High five to effective antibiotics.
While he cruises along the road to recovery, at this exact moment in time, I have a metaphorical pain in my neck. This week we are packing up and cleaning up to move out of our house-sitting gig — my 3rd relocation in less than a year. One of my essay benchmarking consulting gigs has become… annoying, at least to me. We are anxiously and excitedly awaiting to find out if we will close on a home here within the next few weeks. Husband and I both are working on different new work opportunities that could lead us into completely different, unexplored territory in our respective professional lives. Even though it is clear to me that these changes are slanted heavily toward the positive, they still create stress. Thus the pain in the you know what.
Seeing Sounder bounce back, however, has renewed my hope that all will be well sooner rather than later. I imagine my “antibiotics” are going to have to come in the form of some good eats (hallelujah that it’s warm enough to grill at last!), good rest, and lots of room for deep breaths and silence to clear my mind. With an extra pinch of luck, and if taken in regular doses, my antibiotics should make the pain ball shrink just as speedily as Sounder’s did.