Frank Mulligan: Fighting injury and then back to the couch

Frank Mulligan

I was posed with a fundamental personal health question recently.

I had managed to strain my back, which colleagues found intriguing given the sedentary nature of my lifestyle. One reporter pondered whether I had reached for my TV remote without having stretched first.

This was very amusing, and I’m glad she feels comfortable enough with me to share a quip at my expense.

And I look forward to expressing my pleasure with this level of familiarity at her next employee evaluation in six months, two weeks and three days.

Anyhoo, the three-pronged question was this: 1) Do I “baby” the injury and spend more time than usual in the horizontal position? 2) Do I play the stoic and simply ignore it and go on with all the physical challenges confronting the full-time editor? or 3) Do I go on the offensive and actually increase my level of physical activity to show this injury just who it’s dealing with?

I carefully mulled the alternatives without actually consulting someone who could give me an informed opinion; say, a doctor. This is an approach to health care that can be called “self-diagnostic reliance,” “personal interpretive pathological analysis,” or “being stupid.”

The first option had its merits. Lying down would not appreciably cut into the time I devote to watching television, for instance. (And I keep the remote by my side so I don’t have to reach for it, Rebecca.) It would also fail to cut into my time eating, I having long ago mastered the art of supine supping.

But, no, I thought. Sometimes babying injuries actually prolongs suffering time. This was a medical approach based on my experience watching old Westerns. If the star actually stopped to coddle the odd gunshot wound or two from heavy-caliber weaponry, he’d never get the bad guy.

I moved onto the second possibility. Again, I could have gone this route easily enough, the rigors of reading and typing from a seated position failing to daunt this guy.

But, no, I cleverly concluded. That’s not for me. This was no time for logic. I had an injury to contend with.

As I moved onto the third choice, I once more turned to the cinema for guidance. Look at the “Rocky” movies. Rocky always does better after his opponent has had a chance to punch him in the face several hundred times. This, along with all the bleeding and being knocked to the canvas, motivates him and leads him to victory. That, and the music from the Rocky theme, which I began to hum to myself.

So, I donned the gloves (symbolically, of course,) and opted for the third approach last Wednesday.

I worked out in the basement that very morning.

On Thursday, as I lay on my couch unable to move, I had lots of time to reflect on this decision and reconsider the pros and cons.

I also had time to rewatch “Rocky Balboa.”

Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media's Raynham, Mass., office and can be reached at