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'Nuff saidSometimes, when I’m ‘enjoying’ a flare of this nebulous, auto-immune thing I live with, I can wind up so sore that I can’t stand to be touched. Mostly this is a combination of rheumatoid arthritis, caused by fluid in the joints as my stupid immune system chews on them for reasons nobody understands, and osteoarthritis which, is the physical degeneration of the actual joint, destroying cartilage and ultimately in many cases, the whole joint. I have both. It’s the osteo in my back that prompted my husband to buy the vibrating massage mat for me one birthday after a particularly cold, miserable and sore January. (I’m a Valentine’s baby) I should point out that Sweet Hubby is not known for his gift buying prowess. Among the highlights of his largess:  choosing to mark our 5th Valentine’s Day as a married couple, so many years ago, by proudly presenting me with an animatronic plush of the dancing gopher from the movie ‘Caddyshack’. Comparatively  the Massage-o-Matic mat was a well considered choice. I’m sure he imagined giving me a means of relaxing and easing pain, whilst pursuing some peaceful activity like reading, while I wait for painkillers to kick in. I choose to believe this, because if I believed that he’d known when he bought it how much every other living thing in the house would be attracted to it, I’d have to divorce him. So I appreciate the sentiment, even if not the actual item.

The Massage-o-Matic mat is unassuming enough to look at. It’s body length, which is apparently 6 ft (I’m 5’3″ in heels), charcoal grey, and has 4 motors, which offer both vibration and heat, spread out inside the mat at intervals helpfully labeled ‘neck’, ‘mid-back’, ‘lower back’, and ‘thigh’. Given that I’m quite a bit shorter than the person this device was obviously designed for, my labels would be more like ‘head’, ‘mid-back’, ‘HI THERE!” and ‘calves’, I’d have saved a lot of time this morning if I’d remembered that that was why it got put away in the first place.

This morning found me tired, since I sleep lightly and poorly when flaring, aching, unable to put my own socks on for pain in both hands and back, out of the T3’s that I rarely use, and because I rarely use them and never remember to refill, and open to almost any option. Because of this, and because I have a short memory, the Massage-o-Matic got dug out of the upstairs closet in the last couple of days, This last couple of weeks before I start Remicaide tomorrow have been a slow, painful grind, so, willing to try anything, I spread it out on the couch, laid down, and reached for the control, only to be bitten by the cat already sitting on it.

The cats have a love hate relationship with the Massage-o-Matic. That is to say one loves it, and the other hates it. Big Cat, the one who loves it, was already trying to burrow underneath me to get closer to one of her Favorite Things. Small Cat had already ‘killed’ the controller, and was happily attempting to chew it off the wire connecting it to the mat, and bit me when I took his newly killed prize away from him. Small Cat is possessed of an unnatural knowledge of how electrical things work, and is the reason I’m on my 5th clock radio since bringing him home, and also why I have to buy new Christmas tree lights every year.

Having retrieved the controller, I lay back down, squashing one cat and stepping on the other while trying to arrange myself at the right height, relative to the mat, for the motors to actually do anything useful, and turned it on HI. Then jumped up, stepping on Small Cat again, having proved that there is no way for the motor at the mid back to be in the right place, without head and lady garden also getting buzzed. This isn’t as much fun as it sounds, since rattling teeth are kind of a distraction, and the overall experience does little to help with pain, especially when fighting for space with 26lbs of aggressively affectionate cat who is trying to get as much of herself as possible in contact with the mat, drooling in ecstasy  and purring back at the mat in response to the vibration. Small Cat hissed, the mat hit the floor, Big Cat sort of oozed off the couch after it, and I spilled my coffee, then bruised my thigh falling over the coffee table.

Apparently I suck at relaxing.

I went to get the Wet Jet to clean up the coffee, Small Cat headed for the hills, (the only things he hates more than the Massage-o-Matic are the vacuum and the Wet Jet) and Big Cat tried again to lie down on the mat, but she’s slow. AND IT HAD MOVED. Turns out 4 motors worth of deep heating massage are more than enough to produce locomotion when the mat is laid out on hardwood, and not weighed down. While I was getting the Swiffer, the mat had crept under the couch, where Big Cat is too fat to follow, and I am too sore and stiff to chase after it. It kind of crawled back out again on its own, then crawled halfway under the coffee table, reaching the limit of the cord. Pulling it out again demonstrated why, in a house with two cats, you really should vacuum twice a week.

Which gave me an idea, since relaxing was clearly not in the cards this morning.

The 100ft extension cord normally lives with the camping gear, buried way at the back in the deepest, darkest corner under the basement stairs at this time of year, so you can’t tell me I do nothing around the house all day.

Freed from the constraints of a short cord, the Massage-o-Matic is now freely roaming the main floor of the house, slowly sweeping the floors as it goes. It’s the best thing to happen to housework since crawling babies in polar fleece sleepers, except it doesn’t eat the bits that are too big to stick to it. So far it’s picked up five raisins, a Lego lightsaber, a fake mustache (don’t ask), and enough cat hair to knit another cat. I may suck at relaxing, but that’s OK  because I am the QUEEN of alternative domestic maintenance! Every few minutes, Big Cat walks up close to it, turns in a circle, and flops down slowly, just in time to miss the mat as it slinks away. She’s done it four times now. This is the most exercise she’s had in…well, in EVER, really. So Big Cat is getting a workout, the floors are getting cleaned, the Mormons have just left, having met their ‘WTF?!!!’ quota for the week, and I am MADE OF WIN.