Since Tuesday, I've been suffering from something called piriformis syndrome. The Sciatic nerve in my left butt cheek is being compressed by my glute-area piriformis muscle. On Tuesday night, I couldn't sleep. On Wednesday I could barely walk. The pain was unbelievable. I hobbled. An inch at a time. Did I have a blood clot? I worried. Or a dislocated hip? Would I need a blood thinner or a hip replacement? Would I survive? Would I ever for the rest of my life be able to go to any of my many South Loop yoga classes? My mind raced to every conceivable disaster I could conjure up. But even conjuring up disasters was hard while dealing with the acute pain.
It all happened on Tuesday evening. I went to see the five-and-a-half-hour Wagnerian opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg at the Lyric Opera. I made two mistakes. I took a brisk three-and-half mile walk before I got there, figuring a good dose of air and exercise would help me stay awake for the Wagnerian free-for-all. And then I sat fairly motionless, pinched in a small seat, barely moving, let alone stretching, let alone massaging my butt (just about the only tried and true preventative and cure for piriformis syndrome), figuring I was doing myself some good by quietly relaxing, sitting still--and enjoying the music and the sets.
But I was on a collision course from the word "Go!"
The two main causes of my malady--overuse of the piriformis muscle--a muscle adjacent to the gluteal muscles on the butt; and underuse of same--I did them both. I overworked the muscle. Then I underworked it. A recipe for a disaster.
I walked too fast on the way over, carrying a heavy shoulder bag, twisting some while talking to my South Loop pal Miriam as we walked. And when we got there, I stood backwards on the balcony steps talking to a friend of Miriam's, which wasn't a good idea.
Miriam sold me her seat-mates' ticket at a deep discount because her seat-mate doesn't like Wagner. The brisk walking in my black leather Ecco boots (which my podiatrist cousin by marriage told me were the best brand for long brisk walks; so much for that) overused and abused the muscle. Then my long hours of motionless sitting aggravated the muscle once again by giving it nothing to do but sit still and compress, tighten and spasm.
The only thing that could have prevented my attack was if I had brought a massage therapist who could have spent the time while I watched the opera massaging my left butt cheek so the piriformis would relax and not grab onto the sciatic nerve--a nerve which runs from the lower back all the way down the leg. A nerve which can cause havoc if it gets pinched by the overly strong and aggressive butt muscles.
Which leads me to think that Die Meistersinger may just be a jinx on bodies in general. Have you heard about what happened at the dress rehearsal? A fire-spitter from one of the opera's final crowd scenes got severely burned around the facial area. I wish Wagner was still around so we could sue the pants off of him.
On second thought, rather than sue his pants off, I'd like to tighten them vise-like around his behind, so the piriformis muscles on both sides of his butt squeeze his sciatic nerves until, well, until he repents for his many sins, the least of which is writing a too-long opera. Telling Jewish composers that their music was no good because they were were Jews was much, much worse.