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When Sitting Hurts More Than Standing

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Let’s imagine a typical day. You wake up, get out of bed. Brush your teeth and dress. You prepare your breakfast.

Then you sit and eat.

You leave in time for work, grab your keys.

Then you sit and drive.

You arrive at work and head for your desk. There is loads to do.

Then you sit and work. For hours.

After work, you go back to your car. Sit and drive. Back home, you prepare dinner. Sit and eat. Sit and watch  TV or read a book. Go out with a friend. Sit and drive, sit and talk. Doctor’s appointment? Sit and wait.

Now imagine if sitting for as little as five minutes triggered the most horrible pain you’ve ever felt. Imagine if any slight pressure can induce pain that burns through your skin, seeping through the layers of muscles and settling deep within your hip joints. It disseminates up your back and down your thighs increasingly the longer you sit, and lasts for hours after the sitting has been endured.

If people saw you standing in the aisle of the grocery store or strolling down the street, they would not believe you had a disability. You yourself cannot believe you have this disability. You remember a time where you could sit effortlessly. On a hard economy seat for 7 straight hours on a plane. On a wooden seat for a three-hour exam. You remember being able to sit through two-hour lectures. Through meetings. Movies. You remember how it felt to leave the house without a pillow.

“Please! Have a seat,” they keep telling me.

“It’s OK, I’ll stand,” I keep saying.

“It will take a while; rest your legs.” They are puzzled.

“Thank you.” And I remain standing.

They think you’re being ultra-healthy when you walk back and forth in the waiting area. “She must be super fit.”

When you request a standing desk. “I heard standing at your desk burns more calories than sitting, good for you!”

They think you’re sunbathing when they see you stretch out on a public bench and lie flat on your back. “What a carefree person she must be!”

I wish I could wear a sign around my neck that says “It hurts so much to sit.”

They say sitting is the new smoking. That you’re better off without it. But almost everything in our lives requires sitting. It’s time we make things accessible to those with a sitting disability. Standing tables at restaurants. Standing desks at work. Sofas for us to lie down on in airports, malls, clinics, and even hair salons.

“Go ahead.” I move aside. “Take the seat, I’m not going to sit.” I tell a fellow stranger.

“It’s OK, I’ll stand,” she replies as she rubs her back slightly. “It hurts so much to sit.”

I smile at her and nod. “I understand.”

Originally published: September 26, 2018
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