where wildly different is perfectly normal
A real pain in the neck
A real pain in the neck

A real pain in the neck

A real pain in the neckI sprained my neck. Oh, I’m sure I could call it something slightly less embarrassing, like a neck tweak or stiff and sore muscles, but it’s way past that. It’s a sprain. In my neck.

There are usually two reactions to such a strange ailment.

The first is a grimace of pained sympathy. An offer of ibuprofen or a massage or a heating pad. Advanced sympathy also offers wine, a soft pillow, and the TV remote.

The other reaction is a sly grin on a blushing face, a knowing sidelong glance, a giggle, and a bawdy comment about leather ties and overnight activities with your husband.

As much as I would love to have an amusing story about how I got to this point, if for no other reason than to watch people turn pink and wonder about quiet ole’ me, I’m unfortunately far too boring for such antics; that’s a post for another day, or more likely, a private journal entry. I’ve always said with a self-depreciating laugh that I’m a cube; square on six sides. The real story behind my sprained neck tells that out.

I slept.

Yes, somehow I managed to sprain my neck sleeping. Not “sleeping,” but real, honest to god eyes closed and drooling on my pillow sleeping. It’s a rare talent, I tell you. That I awoke on my birthday with a sprained neck from sleeping is just further proof that middle age has arrived with a vengeance. Not quite fair.

So it’s ibuprofen and chiropractic and purple RockTape (made from unicorn hides, I swear; this stuff is magic) and moving very slowly and carefully. I can’t slather up with Deep Relief, because the RockTape will slide off. Flute playing is all kinds of fun, as that requires not only turning my head, but also jaw/arm/shoulder/rib/finger activity as well. I am FrankenJen, moving my entire body to have a conversation and bursting into unexpected rage for no apparent reason (except for, you know, pain).

I think this would be easier to manage…and surely be a hell of a lot funnier…if there was an entertaining reason behind it all. But I slept weird just doesn’t qualify, and I’m old and falling apart is even worse. So perhaps I will price out leather ties and such after all. You never know when you might need to come up with a clever cover story.


  1. Deb

    Jen, I dislocated my shoulder – badly – while sleeping some years ago. Chiropractor put it back in place multiple times, but it wouldn’t stay because my muscles were out of balance, which had everything to do with me fighting myself mentally. That’s when I found my body worker, Gerald Nevin, a Feldenkrais practitioner who helped me get back in balance – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. For me, it was a wake-up call to do my inner work.

  2. Thanks for your article about a sprained neck. Your right about how it can significantly impact your life. It sounds like trying to play the flute with a sprained neck would be an exercise in torture. I was rear ended about a year ago and I have some pretty severe whiplash. I’m glad that you were able to find some relief through chiropractic services and RockTape. Recovering from neck pain can be a long and difficult journey.

    1. Jen

      It’s an ongoing problem, unfortunately. It’s a terrible combo of genetics, stress, posture, flute playing, hunching over a computer, and planetary alignment. 😉 But I’m working on it and it’s very gradually getting better.

      1. Hey Jen, Sorry to hear that you are still going through from such sever problems but on the flip side I am proud on you that you are fighting from your problems very bravely. And that’s good that you can feel improvement in your health. You are more like an inspiration for people who leave all the hopes and doesn’t fight against their problems.

        Great to hear and really liked your blog. Keep doing this great job 🙂

  3. It’s good that you are able to have a chiropractor helping you with your neck. Normally, they are pretty good about finding the problem and getting it fixed with some speed, if it can be fixed. Hopefully it’s been all sorted out by now, and your neck is working fine again!

  4. I can definitely relate to having a sprained neck after sleeping on it weird. It’s not the most dramatic story, but sleeping in strange positions isn’t as nice on my body as it used to be when I was a kid. I’m glad that medication, tape, and chiropractic services are helping you get through it; I usually just suffer it out. Thanks for the article!

  5. A sprained neck can really put you out for a couple weeks. It’s easy to just take some medicine and try to forget about it but its also good to go and try and get it checked out if you can! Thanks for sharing your story.

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