This week my adventure happened in the chiropractor’s office. I’ve always been a little afraid of these guys, mainly because of the wrenching motion they sometimes use on your neck. (It looks a bit like something Jack Bauer would do when the clock is ticking down.)
But my new insurance covers such visits, and ever since I got to town, my back has been aching in the mornings, rendering me almost at old lady status in the way that I freeze when bending over, caught in mid-spasm.
It’s possible this happened when I carried a TV down a flight of stairs. Or when I moved a bunch of type cases filled with lead. Possibly doing Pilates, but probably from the crappy mattress I’ve been sleeping on. But that’s not really the point here.
The point is that I finally caved and went to a chiropractor who was recommended by two friends. (They left out a key detail, which is that the Doc could easily be on the cover of Vanity Fair. This will be important later.) He was very kind, and wrote down my laundry list of aches while assuring me that he would not break my neck and render me totally immobile. He asked me about my activities, because this is a holistic approach, after all. Our conversation went something like this:
Doc: Are you still doing yoga?
Me: No, I fell off the wagon. I’m trying to get started again.
Doc: I’m not judging. I made it through four yoga classes and thought downward dog was supposed to be a push up, because really, who can rest in that position? Is anything else giving you trouble?
Me: My knee hurts when I’m…
Me: No, just walking. (Of course I wouldn’t admit this, but it does sometimes hurt when I’m dancing around my living room, pretending I’m Beyonce. How did he know??)
Doc: Do you have access to that spiffy new gym on Burlington?
Me: (sighing) Yes. I know I don’t go there enough.
Doc: I’m not judging. I have a client who started a spinning class and her knee pain stopped.
So then when he assured me that my chances of having a stroke, according to the Canadians, who apparently crunch numbers better than we do, were approximately 1 in 8 million, I agreed to be “adjusted.”
He then determined that one leg is shorter than the other–a condition that apparently runs in my family. My great uncle seems to get away with everything because one leg is shorter that the other. (Such as, “he doesn’t do yard work, you know one leg’s shorter than the other,” or “she does all the cooking because, you know, he’s got one leg shorter than the other,” or even, “he’s being a pain about this whole property dispute, but bless his heart, one leg’s shorter than the other.”) This little anomaly may prove useful for me someday, but during this visit, it indicated that my hips were out of line and I should relax and take a deep breath while he attempted to straighten them out.
And here’s where things get interesting. Having never been to a chiropractor, I had no idea what kind of contortions they expect from you. So as he moved my arms and legs around, he said, “Now you’ll feel like you’re going to fall off the table, but I promise you won’t. I’ve got you.”
Believe me, I’ve heard that one before. And it always ends the same way–with me on the floor.
It’s difficult to relax when someone tells you to. Especially when that someone is stone cold foxy, nearly lying on top of you, and shoving his weight into your back so that you feel like you’re rolling right off the table. All I could think was, I am not a tiny woman. Physics has never been on my side. With enough momentum, my mass is going to accelerate right towards the floor, and then you’re really going to have your work cut out for you.
I guess he’s as strong as he is tall, though, because I did not crash to the floor. He looked a little puzzled and said, “I didn’t get much there. Maybe next time.”
When he moved on to my neck, he said, “There’s a lot of tension here,” and I thought, boy, you have no idea. And then he said, “Relax,” and I thought, “Uh-oh. Here we go again.” Apparently I still have trouble trusting people–I had a flashback to the eighth grade, when we all went on one of those bonding field trips to a camp where they made you do a “trust fall.” And I distinctly remember my best friend standing up on that platform, crossing her arms over her chest, and falling backwards, her hair rippling around her like water. And just as clearly, I remember our hooligan classmates– distracted by a passing bird, a yell from the other obstacle, or perhaps a word from our adorable Australian counselor–scrambling as her shadow covered them. And they dropped her.
So yes, next time is tomorrow. I will try to relax. I will try to trust that I will not end up on the floor. After yesterday’s adjustments, I could turn my head again. Of course my job and my vocation means that I’m generally a wreck from my neck to my hips. As soon as I tell someone like this that I’m a writer and a printmaker, they say, “Oh, that explains it.” It seems my body is keeping a record of print runs and pages written…I seem to reach this point every four or five weeks, when everything critical is tight and stiff and sore. So when the Doc said, “You’re drinking too much coffee, but we can talk about that later,” I thought, yes, we will be seeing each other for a while.