The case of the bad back and the beautiful bag.

Dear friends,

I’ve been happily sewing along, finishing a new mini-quilt and several zip-bags in the last two weeks. Everything was going fabulously until my back decided to go all wonky.

It happened Friday at work. If you’ve never suffered from back problems, they always seem to appear out of the blue. I was walking down the hall to my office when — snap — the pain hit me instantly and fully. I gasped, I stooped, and then I panted and grimaced my way to my office floor, where I spent the next half hour staring at the ceiling and thinking a neurotic back can sure put a kink in your plans, pun notwithstanding.

I managed to get myself home, but I spent the rest of the day and night on my back in bed, alternating between heat and gentle stretches, which I chased with a stiff drink right before bedtime. Because the pain was in my middle back and radiated to my left underarm (rather than my lower back, which is more typical for me), by evening I was convinced I was either having a heart attack or was about to come down with shingles. (My back might not be the only neurotic part of me.)

Neither happened, of course, and by Saturday morning, I was stiff but mostly pain free. I got up very early and got started on a project I had hoped to complete the night before — a zip bag for an upcoming quilter’s swap.

I hadn’t been up more than an hour when the spasms started again, this time in my lower back. I shuffled my way back to the bed/heating pad, took my daily allowance of Advil, and thought about how mobility is never overrated.

Two hours later, I was up and moving again and managed to finish my bag project.


It’s a surprise for my swap partner so I hope she likes it. (By the way, “moda” is a fabric line beloved by most quilters. I “upcycled” some ribbon from a recent fabric shipment in hopes it would delight a fellow fabric hound.)

I have no idea what’s going on with my back. I logged four runs this week with nary a problem, so who knows? A couple of weeks ago when Mr. Mom was suffering from aches and pains, I called it Old Man Syndrome. Maybe I’ve got Old Woman Syndrome.

With gratitude {for Sewer’s Syndrome, which ultimately prevailed over lesser maladies},

Joan, who — 33 years ago next month — spent a week in traction recovering from the first of her neurotic back episodes


  1. I feel your pain. I’ve been on a stressful deadline for three weeks and hunched over my laptop way more than usual, and my spine is angry at me. Maybe yours is staging a revolt against all those hours at your sewing machine.

  2. Not for nothing did I run a neurosurgical practice for nearly two decades. I picked up a few tips along the way…

    Did you know sitting is the very hardest on your back? If you simply must sit while your back is punishing you, try to get up and walk around every 20 minutes or so (or stretch out in bed for a bit). While you are seated, it helps to have your feet resting on anything that will elevate them by 4 inches (a box, a thick book). The elevation of your feet flexes your hips/spine differently and may offer some relief. Fingers crossed it all resolves quickly and without further ado!

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