For vanity's sake, let's talk about sitting straight

An aunt of mine has one of the most admirable carriages I've seen in a woman


Nivriti Butalia

Published: Sun 30 Apr 2017, 7:36 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Apr 2017, 9:39 PM

 I have an aunt who has told her husband to jab her if he sees her slouch. Concerned about her increased stoop, he's taken this instruction very seriously. Now ever alert to potential slouching, he gleefully jabs her 70-year-old back the moment he sees her slipping a bit lower in her chair at the dining table.
This aunt of mine has one of the most admirable carriages I've seen in a woman. She's an aware person, always watchful of her posture: shoulders back, stomach in, walk properly - not too slow, not too fast, eat slowly and only moderately. All in all, I've been her biggest fan growing up for how she conducts herself and how she carries herself. I continue to admire her need to preserve her body.
For people who I can take liberty with, I use verbal equivalents of jabbing them in the back (different from stabbing them in the back). More people need to sit better, stand better, and consciously work on bettering body language (well and so much else, but there's only so much you can pack into one column).Now, I have no issue with my own posture (from what I know it to be) and I check myself often (vanity will do that to you). Which is why I've been so disappointed this last week.
Here's what happened. My wretched hand started tingling, the left one. I'm not left-handed, so this was strange. For a couple of days, barely paying attention to it, I tried to flex and massage it away. It was/is a pins-and-needles sensation, like your foot falling asleep, but less agonising. And if it's bearable, how bad can it be, right?
Then on Thursday night, like a common hypochondriac, I googled my symptoms, which is, of course, both the only thing and worst thing you can do. If Austria (does) decide to tax googling, that'll be a great move for spooked out hypochondriacs in, I don't know, Innsbruck, who might think twice about saving a buck having Dr Google tell you that you MIGHT have diabetes or an auto immune disorder or nerve degeneration, take your pick.
I was paranoid, imagining that even if I don't die, I might be paralysed for life. And those wheel-chairs, even the natty ones, worthy of being on (Top Gear), are a nuisance to get around in. So I called my childhood friend, a doctor in London. (I don't have a doctor here who I trust and can call in the middle of the night, another problem with the way we live). She was just leaving for her night shift at the hospital after taking delivery of her dinner, possible Pad Thai takeaway. We hadn't spoken in over a year, but with childhood friends you can cut to the chase.
Am I going to die? I asked her. She was listening. Tell me your symptoms, she said. I told her. She asked me a bunch of follow-up questions. Does my neck hurt? No. Is the tingling progressing? Well, not beyond the elbow. Have you had your thyroid checked? Yea, two months ago, blood test was done. I was only vitamin D deficient and I'm popping supplements. And on it went for 15 minutes. She asked me how much I type on the phone and how much I use the computer. She was in doctor mode, trying to assuage my fears, but when I asked what's the worst case, she said it could be the beginning of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. OMG is what played in my head because friends, writer friends, have had it before and I know it's painful. And they had been told to lay off the keyboard! Holy moly.
Bye-bye bread and butter! But hang on, journo. No jumping the gun, she said. You need to check your posture. Sit straight at the computer. Get your neck-eye level sorted. Rest your arm. Get a wrist splint immediately, she said. Your wrist needs support. And for god's sake, stop checking on Google. You'll paralyse yourself with worry.

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