Some of you read this a couple of years ago when I posted it. I am adding this small current update – I don't know if it was the long car ride on Saturday to the wedding shower, or if I slept wrong, or what I did (no, I was NOT moving furniture, wise-ass) but when I woke on Sunday morning I could not stand up. Well, I could, sort of, but I looked like the hunchback of Notre Dame. With all the wedding things I had to do, I spent most of Sunday and Monday playing the ice / heat game with my lower back until finally on Tuesday I was able to stand up straight – not necessarily pain free, but functioning. Yay me! Thank goodness that didn't happen the day of the wedding! Yikes!
Originally posted May 2005
A Tale of a Chiropractor or How I Came To Love My Surgeon
When I was a kid, I used to move my bedroom furniture. I was a budding design student or architect or I was just bored – I’m not sure. It wasn’t light furniture, either. It was huge, dark, antique furniture that I hated. That might have had something to do with the re-arranging. I may have been hoping to push it out the door. Didn’t happen.
Over the years, the habit stuck. I moved many times in my younger days and each time I had to re-arrange the furniture several ways before I was satisfied. Yes, I drew diagrams and measured and pictured it in my head, but I had to live with it to decide if it was really what I wanted.
All of this created a bad back.
Fast forward several years to my 20’s. I am married to my Hubs, have four children under the age of 7, and suddenly am stricken with lower back pain from hell. I can barely move. My parents, who have been going to chiropractors for years, try and encourage me to try one. Me? I’m scared of things I don’t know and go with what I do know. I go to my medical doctor. In medical lingo, my “primary care physician”. You know, everyone must get their piece of the pie! You can’t just jump right to the specialist, you have to get a “referral” that takes 10 minutes and costs $200. No wonder our health care system is such a mess. I could go on and on about this one, but I won’t. At least, not right now.
I then am sent to an orthopedic surgeon who pokes and prods and sends me to a neurologist who puts needles in my legs and sends electric current through them. (Remind me not to be taken prisoner anywhere at anytime. I can’t take the torture.)
After all the x-rays, exams and god-knows-how-many questions, I am told I must have 6 weeks of complete bed rest and take muscle relaxers and pain pills. I will say this, as much grief as I give my MIL, she did step up to the plate on this one. Between Hubs and her, they managed to take care of all the kids for those 6 weeks. Me? I never knew they happened. I was so drugged I didn’t know if it was day or night. I slept 24 hours a day and only got out of bed to pee and nibble on something.
Unfortunately, when the 6 weeks were up, nothing had changed.
Back to the “professionals” who recommended physical therapy. Okay… did that for several weeks. No change. Back to the docs. Now what? You guessed it… 6 more weeks of bed rest and meds. You have Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
I finally called my parents and had their chiropractor recommended someone in my area. What did I have to lose at this point?
We made an appointment and Hubs went with me. We had the x-ray, the thorough exam, the questions… always questions… and finally the chiro said, “We need to have you come every day, twice a day for awhile, but I think your husband needs to take you out to dinner and a movie tonight – you’ve been cooped up in the house waaay too long.” Did I mention I fell in love with him on the spot?
Many years went by and I continued to have some lower back pain off and on, depending on the weather and the degree of effort I put into doing things. As much as my chiropractor would have loved to keep me on a weekly regime, I could not justify the expense and after the crisis was over quit going.
1995. Mother’s Day. Beautiful spring weather. Farmer’s planting in the field. Hubs planting. Close-up to me, riding in the tractor with him… ah, togetherness. I’m riding on the wheelwell, as this tractor is smaller and has no second seat. Have I mentioned it is rough? It is. After many jigs and joggles and being banged around a bit, I gave up and went in the house. Togetherness can only stand so much.
The next morning I wake with a stiff neck. No biggie. Happens occasionally when I sleep wrong. You’ve probably all had that happen. Another day passes and it’s no better. I consider going in to have it popped by the chiropractor. I wait another day. Now my left arm is starting to hurt. It hurts when I stretch it out and pulls on my neck and shoulder. This doesn’t feel like a stiff neck. By the third day I’m not sleeping. I can only get comfortable when I sit in a chair and keep my arm propped up. It’s weak and tender. I call to make a doctor appointment. They can’t get me in for another couple of days. When I ask for some pain medication to help me sleep, they say no. Hubs comes home to find me bawling from the pain and frustration – as well, I’m sure, from sleep deprevation. He calls the doctor and they agree to some Tylenol with codeine. He must have been persuasive.
Remembering the fiasco the last time, I decide to skip the middle man and go straight to the chiropractor. I know they don’t like medications, but I explain I needed to sleep. He was okay with that. He did his x-rays and exam, and found nothing. Hmmm… This was a puzzle. He could tell I was very stiff and sore, so started me coming 3x a day. You heard me. 3x. a. day. He would give me a treatment and I would think I was going to pass out from the pain. A few days went by and he started by giving me a treatment and saying, “Now, that’s better, isn’t it?”. No matter how much positive thinking you try to blow up my butt, it is not going to make it better if it is not. Trust me. It was not.
I have a pretty liberal physician. Most hate chiropractors. Mine thinks they have a place, so doesn’t object to you seeing one. After two weeks with the chiro I decided things were not improving and I went to my doctor. He took more x-rays. Nothing. He suggested I try a different chiropractor – one with different methods. Now I was being put in traction. I was put on a bed of rollers (those actually felt good!). The chiropractic part was questionable – he’d use this little snapper thing and just thump me in places. I have no idea what that was supposed to do,but he was a very reputable guy so I went along with it. I got a home traction device (which I was warned had been mis-used and caused hanging deaths before. Oh. Goody.). It did nothing.
Back to the doctor. Now we were going to get serious. At this time we had no good neurosurgeons in our community, so I was sent to the big city. I had an MRI. Lo and behold, I had a herniated disc in my neck! I mean, that puppy was outside the box… surgery was discussed and my response was, HELL YES. Let’s do this thing!
A week later I was prepped for surgery. It’s weird, but it’s easier for them to do back surgery on your neck by going in through the front than the back. You have to agree to do this, knowing that you may never be able to talk again as they are right around your vocal cords. Truly, when there is this much pain involved, you’ll agree to anything. I see how torture can work.
The minute I came out of surgery and woke up, I was fine. I had some discomfort from the neck incision, but that was all. No back, neck, or arm pain – I could move my arm! I could stand! I could sleep! Normally, they keep you in the hospital for a day or two, but hospital beds and I don’t agree with each other – we don’t bend in the same place and I end up with lower back pain. So, Hubs borrowed his mother’s smooooth riding car and he took me home to recouperate.
I’ll always remember the chiropractor “cracking” my neck – the pain blinding me, taking my breath, almost making me black out – and his cheery voice saying, “now, that’s better, isn’t it?”.
Fuck you very much.