I’m an old woman. . .

I’m a feisty one, I am.

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I may have mentioned a time or two that I hate painting.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m an old woman.

When I was 30 or so, I had a sudden onset of back spasms. Doing the Granny Clampett walk, I waddled my way over to the chiropractor’s office. We’d never met before and he walked into the exam room and looked at me. Then he looked at my x-rays. Then he looked at me again. Finally, he said, “You have a lovely spine for a 70-year-old woman.”

My misspent youth was not kind to my back.

Between yoga and outright refusal to be one of those whiny-assed people who complains about their back all the time (preferring, of course, to whine about other things), I refused to accept his or the neurosurgeon’s diagnosis and have lived reasonably well without back surgery or a wheelchair.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to do things in such a way as to accommodate the limitations of my back. (I was, hands down, the strangest rock climber you’ve ever seen.) I have not found a way to minimize the physical agony of painting.


Lord’av’mercy, I hate painting.

It goes something like this:

I decide to paint.

I sit and ponder the painting.

I get up and gather a few supplies.

I repeat steps 2 and 3, sometimes for weeks.

I spackle.

Sit and rest.

(Rinse and repeat)

I sand. . .sit and rest.

I bite the bullet and get the paint out.

I repeat step 2 for hours.

I begin painting.

I paint 5 minutes, rest 40.

Eventually, 5 minutes at a time, I get the painting done. But my back curses at me the entire time and, in turn, I curse back. It’s rough having an old woman’s spine. It also sounds like a biker bar in here, what with all the cursing.

Instrument of Torture

It’s the ladder work that gets to me. That and the spots near the floor. And around windows. Let’s not forget the bits at eye level.


After two weekends of painting prep, I got the paint out yesterday. It took all flippin day to do about 20 minutes worth of ceiling painting. Tonight, I girded my loins, told my back to shut up, and set to. Three hours later, I have one coat of primer on the ceiling. I’m figuring on two coats of primer and two coats of color. It’ll be years before I’m done.

And since I’m now 50, I’m guessing that means my back is 90 – not too many 90-year-old women up to painting their study. I’m right proud of my progress.

14 thoughts on “I’m an old woman. . .

  1. Your post resonates only too well with me. I am now almost 66. (I will be 66 on April 6, gifts welcome, by the way.)

    When I was 30 something, I ruptured a disc while painting under the eaves of a house. I was semi-paralyzed for 6 months. NO on the surgery for me also. Physical therapy and regular back exercises for me. Since then, I have recurring episodes, especially when I paint ceilings and low places.

    Re the humor in your post, I would like to quote one of your comments to me. “LOLLLLLLLLLL!”

    In addition, straight from me, another LOLLLLLL


    • April 6th is the 5th anniversary of my divorce. I too am not adverse to accepting gifts.

      They told me the surgery had a 50% change of working and a 50% chance of confining me to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. What? Do I look stupid?

      I’m so glad I didn’t go that route. While I can’t limbo with the same gusto as I did at 13, my cha cha ain’t bad. 🙂

  2. Every so often, it sounds like you are writing my post… difference is, I DO have the wheelchair, the walker, a collection of canes… BUT, I do my best to stay away from using them – the old sit and rest routine… But walking up your hill would be beyond me. I have a house in the Pocono Mountains which I visit once a year or so – but I live as a flat lander here on the shore with no hills, no steps to climb. Gives me more strength to do those other things and stay out of the wheelchair.
    Last time I decided to paint the kitchen, I ended up calling a friend who came over and finished it for me… Actually finished isn’t quite right, it implies I had gotten more than a few square feet done, doesn’t it? sigh.
    There are probably a lot of us who know where you are coming from!
    Bless you child!

    • After a couple of “minor” car wrecks 18 months apart, I spent most of my 22nd year with a cane. It’s hard to be a Disco Queen while sporting an orthopedic cane. I used that cane on and off for another 10 years. After the last car wreck in 2007, I was on a walker for a couple of weeks and, damn, those things are annoying. (Did you see the movie Up?)

      It’s true for me that the more I do, the more I can do. I have much more mobility now than I did in my early 20s. If the trend continues, I’ll be an Olympic ice-skater by the time I’m 70.

      And, btw, yoga has been nothing short of a miracle.

  3. I found a guy to paint my parents’ house when I was getting it ready to sell. He was reasonable, did a great job and was tidy. Let me know if you want his info. 🙂 Other than that, I employ the Evil Twin to do the painting in our house. The man is an artist, after all, so he does great work!

  4. As well you should be. I hate house repair/maintenance of any kind. But, I suppose every once in awhile you just have to bite the bullet and get things done. It bites.

  5. Pingback: 12-Step Program for Refrigerator Magnetaholics? | W. Va. Fur and Root

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