Poor posture

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GIVE me a child, any child, who is like me as I was back then and like I was as an errrmmm… adult until a week ago… and I’d readily tell him or her: straighten up or the doctor will have to untangle your spine when you’re older and scare you with stories of cancer and tumors. Then I’d go through the details of how a spine looks like, how it can be twisted and turned before it finally gets stuck, and how it can debilitate you and… stop you from playing, f-o-r-e-v-e-r. That should scare any child and make him or her sit up straight, f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

But, no. In my childhood I have been told to sit and walk straight in so many unappealing ways.

“Don’t slouch, it doesn’t look good!” Errrmmm… I really didn’t care much about how I looked, I was busy exploring the world around me, hair in tangles, nape darkened by the sun, knees bruised and scratched.


“Chin up, like Miss Universe!” Really now… First, I’m short. No need for any other reason. Although, there are a score or more others if you really want me to enumerate them for you.

“Stomach in, chest out, you’re slouching like a boy!” Errrmmmm… gender was the least of my concerns. When you have just found a bug that looks very, very, very interesting underfoot, gender will indeed be the least of your concerns. I swear.

“Sit up straight! You’re not listening!” Huh? (How can I sit up straight when I’m reading a book that I’m hiding from you, teacher. And yes, teacher, I’m not listening.) Now I dare you to say that to your teacher… I simply hid the book and continued to slouch (afraid to look the teacher in the eye lest she discovers what I have just hidden from her sight).

Now books, they bring a whole new world right within your grasp and you can spend hours and hours and hours… slouched over a book or even ten books.

My favorite spot in grade school was on the floor beside the bookshelves of the grade school library hidden from view. In high school, aside from the library and the art room, my favorite was the wooden bleachers that surrounded the gym. It’s because school chairs, the ones that come with fixed desks, are not the best surface to sit with your legs tucked under your thigh in a lotus position. The bleachers, on the other hand offered wide spaces to sit that way while slouched over a book that is resting on your legs like a portable book rest. That way of sitting I carried on till college and to work and… until last week.

That’s almost near one score and 20 years, tops.

So there I was, listening to Doc Luchie Aportadera once more (after three years) as she lectured me on proper posture with that very knowing look of why I was there, a look that can only come from a doctor who has seen and heard them all in her years in practice.

“It must really hurt that bad because you found time to be in a hospital,” she said.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, properly chastised and sitting up straight for the very first time.

Sciatica. It’s that condition where there is excruciating pain in your leg whenever you sit down, matched with tingling sensation on your toes. It’s caused by a pinched sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve in your spine. The pain became so intense I was chugging down pain killing tablets every other day before finally admitting I had to see my doctor. Take note, I never took pain killer in my whole life except… when I had toothache, and that was few and far between. Using tablets to kill a pain just isn’t my kind of stuff. I’d wait for the pain to die down in its own natural course. But the pain in the leg caused by sitting on my butt was just too much, it was getting in the way of work and rest, and… reading… and play. Sciatica has a long menu of causes, tumor among them. Mine it seems has been caused by the more than three decades of sitting with my legs tucked under and slouched over a book or a laptop or a tablet or an iPhone or just in a futile attempt to fade away.

So there I was, willingly listening to Doc Luchie’s lecture somehow feeling that she was wearing a look that was saying, “Why am I not surprised?”

Reserve the reminders about looks when you see a child who seems more concerned about what’s around him or her than what he or she is wearing and get into the details of spines and bones and nerves and how these need not be broken to keep you up all night in excruciating pain.

Sit up straight.



Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 13, 2014.


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