About three weeks ago I did something really stupid. I picked up two forty pound bags of salt and threw them into the car. No biggie, I figured...I've been weight-training, kettlebelling and (I thought) was up for the challenge. That night my lower back began to ache. The next morning I needed my husband to pull me out of bed. Then, standing, felt like my spine just wasn't able to stack right. It felt like bone against bone - like it was going to break. I couldn't straighten up. He had to walk me to the toilet and put me down on it. I have never been more freaked out (and humiliated) in my life!
The pain continued and my whole body felt contorted. "I have to go to a chiropractor," I told my physician husband. "Are you nuts?" was his response. "They aren't doctors - they're voodoo guys. You need a doctor!"
But I stubbornly resisted. It's not that I have anything against doctors. I even married one. It's just, if there is any way to treat something in a non-interventive way - to strengthen myself instead of to treat myself like I'm sick - well, that's the way I want to heal. Doctors give steriods and cortisone and operations. I don't want any of that. I want to know what I need to do to make things better.
So I found a chiropractor through my personal trainer. First, I called and no one was there so I left a message. With no response, I just bit the bullet (big ouch!) and walked around feeling and looking like Quasimodo for a day or two. Finally, the "Dr." called back. I told him my problem and he agreed to let me come immediately - which sounded great to me since I was set to go to NY the next day.
At his office, he listened to me describe my pain, and then he sat me in front of a TV and told me to watch something. (OK, the New Yorker in me was just saying - the heck with the TV show - sitting hurts - please just examine me and tell me how we're gonna fix my back - PLEASE???). But when I fidgeted, he seemed offended - so I sat through some chiropractic pitch to teach me about my back and my "Subdiction" or something like that - a condition that everyone probably has to some extent or another.
The longer I sat there (writhing in pain), the more I just wanted to leave. Sometimes preaching to the choir is just stupid. I didn't need to know about my "Subjugation." I just needed to know how to make it better.
After the film - finally - he examined me by running a little roller over my neck. He hummed as he did it - a kind of cute (annoying) habit.
"You definitely have a Subdivision in your neck," he told me.
"But it's my lower back," I told him, "not my neck, that hurts."
"Well, it's clear to me that you have a pinched nerve in your neck. That may even be causing your lower back pain."
Huh? I was pretty sure this was a herniated disk.
Next we took X-rays and he showed me how tilted I was standing. You didn't need to be a rocket scientist for that.
"So what do I do?" I asked him.
"You go home and come back to the office next week," he told me. "At that time I will let you know how bad your Sublimation is and we can begin working on it. Meanwhile no exercise, ice it when it hurts, and do whatever it is you do for the pain. We will deal with it next week."
So, OK, now I was completely weirded out. He sent me home in agony. What kind of doctor is this anyway. Maybe my husband was right!
We went to New York, bought a new mattress for the bed at my mom's house so I would stand a chance of not making my back any worse, and when we came back, I showed up at the blue house in Saline, Michigan to hear about my back. Their was another patient in the waiting room - a man. The chiropractor came out and greeted us and then invited us BOTH in to what looked like a classroom. With charts and life sized spine models, the sales pitch began anew. I asked a few questions, more than a little annoyed by the pitch and I was told that I should just sit and listen - he would get to my questions in good time. We were handed folders with CD's - homework - to teach us how to handle our backs before and after the treatment, which I learned was called "Adjustments." The pitch went on for almost a half an hour, basically telling us about this "Sub" thing and how it probably started when we first fell down when we were toddlers and has gotten worse and worse every since. Then he invited the guy into his office to review his X-rays and treat him.
Maybe in Michigan people are chill with medical professionals doing a dog and pony show, but I was pretty impatient by the time he clipped my X-rays to the lightboard. Holy cow! Was that twisted thing my spine? It was so clearly crooked, I was taken aback. And not just the lower back where the disk met my spinal chord, obviously causing inflammation and pain. The upper back, the neck - everything was out of alignment.
"This is what I've been trying to teach you," the chiropractor said factually. Then he lay me down on a wooden table, on my side, and made the top of the table go "kerchunk" out from under my neck. And I'll be darned if I didn't feel significantly better when he pulled me off that table!
It was amazing. My head felt like it was floating right where it belonged - between my two shoulders, and my spine felt - while not perfect - a whole lot better than when I walked in there.
I could have done without the sales pitch, informational program about "Subversions" and the "bring a friend" promotion he told me about. I'm sure most of the "education" was designed to justify the fact that he wanted to see me four times a week for starters, which is a nice way for him to finance his boat - but not in my budget, bad back or not. But I have been going back once a week - and I have to admit - he doesn't need to sell me a thing. I've been feeling better every time.