So I’ve done something to my shoulder.

I don’t know what I did but it’s been sore for months. Maybe I over-eagled my arms in eagle pose, or perhaps my efforts to be Miss Plank Body in chaturanga have backfired, or maybe it’s just a warning shot across the bow about what’s going to happen once I finally bid farewell to my late-mid-forties.

You know the signs. You’ve got A Back, maybe; or perhaps it’s The Knee.  Getting out of bed is no longer a bound-and-greet-the-day, instead it’s a calculated swivel of feet, leg, hips, and oof.

And there’s the face. I had the misfortune, while we were in Jordan, to stay in not one but two hotel rooms that had magnifying mirrors right near the sink. I kept catching my reflection in the well-lit surfaces and my friends, in the morning, my facial skin resembles nothing so much as the fabric of a waffle-weave t-shirt. Or, to go more high-end, some kind of fabric that Issey Miyake might use in a couture creation. Pleated, is what I’m saying.

My aching shoulder and pleated forehead–plus the rest of me–were thrilled about the prospect of “taking the waters” at the Dead Sea. For millenia people have pilgrimmaged to these salty waters, lured by the curative powers of salt, heat (the water is quite warm), and the famous Dead Sea mud, which is packed with minerals.

 It’s impossible not to laugh when you get into the water: you are, literally, weightless. Your feet float up to the surface of their own accord; you could, if you wanted to, float in the water and read a magazine without once getting the pages wet.  Diving below the surface is almost impossible; my kids tried to sink themselves by clutching big rocks in their hands, but even then, they barely got their chins wet.

We could have stayed floating on our backs forever, except that Caleb kept flipping over: he’s so light that each passing ripple spun him around like a pinwheel.

Searching for the cure to all my ills, I smeared myself with mud, rinsed myself in the salty waters, and then besmeared myself again. I repeated this process four or five times during our overnight stay at the resort.

Am I cured? Well, my shoulder still hurts. I finally went to an orthopedist who, after I had six x-rays, came up with a brilliant diagnosis: I have a sore shoulder. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory which, as near as I can tell, contains no Dead Sea salts.

And as for my skin?  While the mud dried on my face, Liam looked at me. “Wow,” he said. “I can see every single line and wrinkle. Your face looks like some of those buildings in Petra.”

Great. My face is a crumbling monument.

True, my post-mud skin felt smooth and soft – soft enough that I bought a packet of mud to give myself facials at home.  But I’ve discovered the double-whammy cure for pleated skin: First off, don’t wear your glasses when you look in the mirror. What you can’t see doesn’t exist. (Hey, it works for Mitt Romney and poor people.)

Second cure?

No magnifying mirrors.