I had just completed a thirty minute workout on my nifty, new deluxe edition Nordic Track elliptIcal, taking it slow and dutifully stretching every five to ten minutes, and was getting into the shower. I was leaning over to take off my sock when my head exploded with pain. Except that it wasn't my head that hurt; it was something in the right part of my lower back, that wouldn't allow me to stand back up without waves of fresh pain explosions. I though it prudent to just stay there like that for a minute staring at the Hanes logo on my sock and assessing the situation. I knew I needed help, but realistically there are some things you must do for yourself. Like standing up. I needed to get up. And I needed a shower. And since I was almost there, except for one sock, I decided to just sideshuffle in and see what might happen. But not without calling for backup . . . just in case. My phone was sitting on the bathroom counter within arm's reach. I texted my sister in law, who works with my husband. Then I texted my husband (I have no idea why the order except that maybe somewhere deep in my primordial psyche I know that women understand the urgency of some things better than men). Then I called my chiropractor's office (mercifully, his wife answered -- that primordial thing again) and let them know I was coming. And I made myself a promise that I would be showered and dressed if it killed me. I can tell you that at various points throughout the day, I really wished it had.
Somewhere between the shower and the bedroom where I finally made it to get dressed (my husband arrived just in time to help with socks and shoes), I discovered that standing was not my biggest problem. Standing, once I made it there, was actually the best place to be. I could even hobble along pretty well as it was mostly the right side of my body and down through my right leg that was making me scream every time I tried to sit down or stand back up again. Not being able to sit, getting to the doctor was a dilemma, beginning with actually getting into my husband's mini SUV which we chose on the basis that getting up might be easier than getting down into my own car. idk. We had never done this before. It would have pretty much been hell either way. I screamed getting in. I screamed getting out. But I think I managed to walk into the office behaving pretty normally. Maybe too normally.
Now before I tell you how things progressed in that office, let me tell you a little about chiropractors and chiropractic care first, and specifically about my current chiropractor. I discovered chiro years ago when I was running a lot and experiencing a lot of back pain. . I once limped into a chiropractor's office one day specifically for the pain in my lower back and walked back out without the slightest bit of pain in my back or my knee. He noted my limp and then looked at it as a personal challenge. "I fix knees, too," he said with a gleam in his eye. He had taken a little hammery thing and tapped on my knee just like on the Flintstones, and instantly fixed it. I was impressed. Different day. Different chiropractor. I walked in for a regular adjustment with a headcold. This one poked and prodded 'round my head and temples and when I got up off the table, I could breathe through my nose again. The chiropractic philosophy is that that the central nervous system can be manipulated naturally to fix almost anything. They can teach you to live holistically to attain overall better health. And that has been my experience with them. Due to some changes in insurance, I got shuffled around a few times and finally ended up in Jeremiah Shaft's office. I couldn't be happier. He and his wife are some of the smartest people I know. When my youngest daughter came back from Africa and we had a concern about parasites, and wanted to avoid chemicals, I called him on a whim. Diatomaceous Earth. He didn't skip a beat. When I couldn't sleep due to perimenopausal symptoms (yeah, it's out there), they had a natural remedy behind the counter. I sleep now. When my daughter called to tell me that my grandson had had so many ear infections that his pediatrician said he needed surgery for tubes, I thought that was too invasive. I called him. Pediatric Chiropractor, he said. No ear infections since the consultation. The PC was able to determine on Levi's first visit, through listening to a little history, that he was allergic to milk that was causing excessive mucus production and the ear infections. I am one hundred percent all in when it comes to chiropractic care, tried and true. I'm saying all of this to say first, that by no stretch of the imagination do I attribute the hell of the rest of my day to chiropractic care. I knew that the first step in healing my back was an adjustment. something had come out of whack and needed to be realigned. It's instinctive anymore. Secondly, I needed to explain this because I've internalized these philosophies so well, and I am so disgusted with conventional medicine that I refuse to take drugs. I never need them. Well, almost never . . .
When I walked into Dr. Shaft's office, there was a full waiting room. I never sat down, but I tried to act casual. So I was probably a little too casual about explaining the extent of my pain, as well. He came out of a consult with a patient and asked me what happened. Well. . . I did my elliptical . . . and I was just taking off my sock. He looked a little confused. I didn't press it. I had no problem just jumping on the table, as usual (I didn't really have to jump as there is nifty little table that takes you standing from the floor to parallel). He adjusted me, as usual, asked a few more questions about the injury, and then straightened the table for me to step off. This is when I perceived that my problems were only just beginning. Up to that point, I had managed moving forward, but when i took step back, my brain screamed again. I think it was just my brain. I thought it was just my brain. It was alternately screaming, while it was telling me to shut up. . . and don't embarrass yourself . . . and there are people here . . . He did a few more things after the initial adjustment, all the normal things he usually does. . . that all involved sitting. . . and standing. I wanted to be cooperative . . . and I swear I didn't scream, except that I did scream. . . because later when I told my husband that I almost said the F word, but I managed to bite my lip right before it came flying out, he said, "Well, that's good, because everybody could hear you." "Hear me what?" I asked. Screaming. And it makes sense because at some point I remember the doctor looking very confused and asking me "Now what did you do again?" I was just taking off my sock . . . Really. . . On my way out the door in a blurry haze, I heard him tell me to ice and stretch . . . because that's how chiropractors roll . . . All natural . . .
It took me fifteen minutes to get into the car, and fifteen minutes to get out once we got back home. The only thing that could finally make me get into the car were the patients that kept coming out of the office and asking me if I was okay. Did it look like I was okay? I was standing outside the SUV attempting to get in, and since that involved lifting my legs that were attached to my back, it involved excruciating pain and a lot more screaming. I heard it that time. I gritted my teeth and demanded my husband get me out of there. "I'm trying!" he said, "But you have to get in!" It was going to have to be like ripping off a band-aid. I braced myself, launched with both feet, and dived into the car headfirst, screaming like a hellion. One foot was left dangling outside the car. My husband tossed it in and slammed the door. He had reclined the seat for me and on the way home, I settled into a position that afforded relatively little pain. I lay there in shock and temporary relief for the ten minute ride and then it was time to get out again. Seriously? I tried. And I tried. And I moaned and screamed and shouted like I was on fire. And it really felt like my back was every time I tried to sit up. Stephen tried pulling my arms from the front. More yelling. He suggested trying the push the seat up from the back. I told him, no, forget it. I'll just stay in here for a while. I was beginning to feel sorry for myself. He said, well . . . let me get you some water . . . I'll get you your phone . . . are you warm enough? He was serious. I might have been when I said it. It had seemed like a good idea as opposed to ever moving again. He seemed to think it was a great idea. I think he was tired of the yelling. I did the band-aid thing again. I took a deep breath and launched myself up and out of the car. Using the top of the car door for leverage, I went flying through the air, hollering the whole way, and landed a perfect ten on the grass five feet away. I was out. I just needed to make it to the couch.
Stephen had to go back to work, but he made sure I was as comfortable as I could be on the couch, lying flat on my back. He took off my shoes. He brought me a pillow and a bottle of water. I conceded to taking some ibuprofen. I hated it, but my back was begging me. I pictured it eating away at the lining of my stomach and bleeding out right there on the couch, but dead couldn't hurt as bad as this pain. He handed me the remote and my phone and covered me with a blanket. I could barely turn my head head to see the tv because it was attached to my neck which was attached to my back and that hurt. So I just listened. I couldn't move half an inch to the left or the right. I just lay there listening to the tv and checking my blog stats. Thirty minutes later, I had knocked over the water (I watched it roll across the floor and hoped I didn't get thirsty) and dropped the remote on the floor. I began to get texts from people to whom I mournfully conveyed my dilemma. They asked questions like what kind of painkillers did I have? And was there a muscle relaxer included? I ignored them and waited for the ibuprofen to kick in. I was lying on the ice pack that Stephen had stuffed under my left hip before fleeing, and I was beginning to get chilled. The dogs began to whine. And then . . . the worst thing that could possibly happen. . . I had to pee. I tried to ignore it. I played games on my phone. I listened to music. I complained to more people. I had to pee. Nobody had a solution for that. You can't dive or launch yourself from a flat on your back position. I tried the slow roll tactic. It took me five minutes to get to my feet and I didn't even try to hold back the noise. There may have been some swearing. The dogs stopped whining to stare wide-eyed. This happened twice more before 9:30pm when it occurred to me that the ibuprofen wasn't helping (I had taken 6 more by then), and I finally decided to heed the advice of my friends and my brother and my sister in law who were all urging me to find an ER. I googled the nearest Urgent Care and did the slow roll again. I wanted serious drugs.
More launching and diving and screaming finally downgraded to a low moaning found me driving through the dark down Ford Road looking for the Urgent Care, trying to get there before they closed. I had glimpsed the crossroads and the hours (they closed at 10:00pm) from my back before I left the house, but had forgotten to bring my cell phone. It may have been the pain. I traversed the entire length of the road once, and then in a haze of pain, pulled into a parking lot to gather myself. The thought of having to look for something else when I was so close was more than I could bear. I sat there willing myself to breathe through the terrible ache. Then I did something I rarely ever do unless I am very, very frustrated . . . or maybe in terrible pain. I began to cry. And then I prayed, which I do a lot. I took a deep breath, got my resolve, and pulled out of the parking lot. I immediately spotted the building right down the road and made the calculated decision to keep right on crying. I reasoned that crying women certainly get drugs faster than dry-eyed women. I was beyond shame.
I hobble hurried through the door at 9:50. The doctor took one look at me and busted out the pain shot. Then he wrote me a prescription for pain pills and muscle relaxers. I'll always love him. Ten minutes later I was in the home stretch at the CVS pharmacy counter where I leaned over and gave the pharmacist my best Clint Eastwood gaze and asked through gritted teeth "How quickly can you get that filled?" Thirty minutes later I had managed to climb up into my own bed and was drifting of to la-la land . . . giving just a little more grace to my astronomical insurance premium. . . and drugs.
By the way, I feel great today, as long as I don't sit down or, once there, try to get back up. I've written this entire blog standing at my kitchen counter. My elliptical sits in the corner taunting me. I'll hang up my shoes, though, at least until tomorrow.