Today’s project was going through my handbag and separating out the bare essentials.  This might sound like the most trivial subject  you’ve ever heard me talk about (and there have been many), but you weren’t here on Wednesday of this past week when I went through the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced outside of once having an abcessed tooth and another time having appendicitis. 

I’m not used to pain.  I’m used to minor discomforts.  Mostly associated with being my age, I think.  When I wake up in the morning, I sort of hold a finger up in the air to test the state of the union, so to speak.  I have a mild headache.  I’m a little stiff.  And so on.  Ibuprofen, coffee, and moving around usually fix everything. 

Wednesday was no different until about noon.  My shoulders were hurting.  This just seems like such a stupid problem to me.  People are starving to death in Somalia and dying of cancer all over the planet, and your shoulders hurt?  Give me a break.  But it got to the point that it was all I could think about.  (A specialty of pain…that is kind of its point.  Your brain says, I insist that you pay attention–right now.)

That evening, I was eventually forced to take half of a Percocet.  Why, you may ask, do I even have Percocet?  The answer is, two months ago I had to have a breast biopsy (long story) and the doctor sent me home with a prescription for 15 Percocet tabs.  I’ve now used 3 1/2 of them.  But I saw no other hope for the pain. 

The next day, I made it until about 3:00 P.M.  and had to make an emergency trip to the pharmacy.  I bought cream (basically a generic form of Bengay), and Aleve–the next step up from Ibuprofen but well below Percocet.  I took an Aleve right away, but waited until I got home to use the cream, which turned out to be magic. 

By Friday, I was hyperalert to whatever I was doing that might bring the pain on.  Oddly enough, standing was a problem.  I couldn’t do it long.  At the least twinge, I sat down, and that eventually helped, though not right away.  This however, is not a long-term solution.  I’m pretty enamored of standing up and walking. 

After a lot of diligent Googling, I realize I’ve damaged the trapezius muscle.  Hopefully temporarily. 

Now to the culprit:  it’s the handbag.  I’m quite sure.  I had read an article about it some time ago, probably in the New York Times.  Women are suffering all kinds of neck, back, and shoulder problems from carrying oversized bags. 


My bag is not nearly as large as the ones shown in the article, but it’s big enough, and it’s heavy.  One of the interesting things in the article is that doctors say women should not carry bags that are more than 10% of their body weight.  So that would limit me to 11.4 pounds.  Hello!  My guess is that my bag normally weighs in the neighborhood of 18. 

My cat weighs 15, which is large for a cat, and I find it a struggle to pick her up and carry her.  So I don’t do that often.  And I don’t carry her on my shoulder every day. 

At first I thought I would keep the same bag and just reduce the number of items in it.  That will Not Work.  Sooner or later I’ll be tempted to add stuff to it.  So I must have a small bag that things I think I might need at some point this centruy won’t fit in. 

Fakename is now taking suggestions for a new handbag.  Besides being small, I have only one other requirement:  it has to have pockets.  Shopper friends, I need your help!  And you know who you are 🙂



12 responses to “Downsizing

  1. Not very stylish perhaps, but it does come in blacke, I think. Check out the additional photo which shows the insides.

  2. Kind of just the idea, but I think it may be too heavy. It weighs 14 oz. with nothing in it. But it might be the best I can do. Less than a pound empty beats what I have now. Price (although it should last quite a while if it’s costly) and style are not a consideration, btw. Just lightweight and pockets.

  3. I got my little bag quite by accident. It crossed my eye somewhere and I took it. Of course, for that to happen, you have to be out cruising the stores – something I never do anymore.

    It is divided in the center and one side has a zippered wall pocket. Three sections may not be enough for you at this stage. Baggalinni makes all sorts of bags, most of them too big. I could not find the one I was really looking for on their site which means either they don’t make it anymore or that I’m really terrible at web surfing. That latter is only too true.

  4. There’s this:

    Although a bag that weighs nearly a pound all by itself but doesn’t leave you enough room to carry the kitchen sink will still be an improvement over the lovely Ariat tote.

  5. > my bag normally weighs in the neighborhood of 18.

    That more than a lot of bowling balls!

    We got Susie a new, very small bag at Penney’s. Has a bunch of pockets outside and various compartments inside. It’s just 7 1/2 x 5.


    Second best gift I have given my wife, and for the same reasons you have written of. Dillards was the source here in Tampa. She gets constant compliments (not that that is really important) and the design was small enough for essentials but not for 247/365 sundries.

  7. This is very helpful. Pt, which one did you get for your wife? And she is happy with it?
    I wish you all could have seen me yesterday, separating out the “yes” pile from the “no” pile. Every item was like a child I was giviing up for adoption. But I was relentless. If I will not need it in the next 10 minutes, it goes.
    At the moment I have to not carry anything, really. I need to heal for a while.
    Fakesister, do you remember, once we were at Red Hills and I bought a sort of tapestry bag from a truck vendor? I’ve reverted to that, and it’s at least half the size of the fabulous Ariat tote that I’ve been addicted to. But probably still too big

  8. And no more carrying a library book in the bag. I’ll carry the library book in one hand, and the bag in the other.

  9. “And she is happy with it?”

    Loves it, carries wallet, cell, car keys, meds and a little make up.

    • That’s pretty much all I’ll carry too. Except I’m not planning to even carry a wallet. And that was the first thing I “downsized”. It tends to be a junk collector too. So I took out my driver’s license, debit card, library card (an essential!), my health insurance card, and my Home Depot card (that last thing isn’t mine, it’s a work account)..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s