Sometimes, like when I decided to move the blog – sorry about any broken links, by the way; still working on figuring out the redirects – I take action remarkably swiftly. Other times, not so much.
For instance, she said ominously:
I’ve had a vaguely sore back for a while. I put it down to carrying a heavy toddler, and bending the wrong way, and having children jump on my back for the pure hilarity of my reaction whenever I happened to be crouched down doing something, and all those things that you do in life. I certainly didn’t have a car accident or fall off a horse or crunch someone in a rugby tackle. I kept assuming it would wear off after a while. It would come and go and some days I’d be gingerly loading the dishwasher sideways because I couldn’t bend straight forwards and others I’d be fine. Lately it had taken the form of a sore back that would appear after a few hours in bed, bug me enough to wake me up and make me painfully change position, and make me hobble like an 80-year-old getting up in the morning. But by midday or sooner it would have worn off and I’d put off doing anything about it. Again.
When I had my annual doctor’s appointment in October or so I had mentioned it to the doctor. She was supremely unhelpful and said I could find some exercises to do for that on the internet. I basically ended up thinking that I was 40 now and maybe that’s just how life is. Or that maybe we need to buy one of those nice squishy mattresses that you can rest your wineglass on without fear of spillage while a rhinocerous jumps on the other side.
At some point – actually, I know exactly when it was; it was when we went to Ithaca last July – we drove past a building that said “Acupuncture, Chiropractor” and I wondered why those two would go together. In my mind, a chiropractor was a special and important and very wonderful type of doctor who did something that was not clear to me, while acupuncture was sticking needles into you, which might somehow help but was definitely on the alternative side of the medicine scale.
This set off a long train of thought that buzzed away in the back of my mind over months and months. I began to notice that the two types of practice often went together, and that chiropractors were definitely also in the “alternative medicine” box, in this country at least. Maybe it’s different in Ireland, but I know my parents used to speak in hushed tones of the revered chiropractor. (My mum had had a bad back many years ago, and my dad had a badly broken leg in 1971 that has given him pain on and off ever since.) I always assumed the chiropractor was just as much a doctor as a surgeon or anyone else in St Vincent’s would be. Maybe he was.
So it gradually began to dawn on me that maybe I should take my back to a chiropractor. But if they’re alternative, then does insurance pay for it? And will they dupe me? Maybe they’ll pretend to fix it but actually only partway fix it so that I have to keep coming back.
Eventually, I asked my local Facebook friends if anyone could recommend a chiropractor in the area. They could – several mentioned the same one. I put that at the back of my mind, because Ireland, and Christmas, and everything else. Every night in bed as I winced and rolled over, I would resolve to make the call the next day; every morning I’d put it off because now I was fine, and it’s not so bad, and I have an irrational disinclination towards making phone calls.
Finally, in my fit of proactivity on Wednesday, I called up, and they took my insurance details just like any regular doctor’s office and gave me an appointment the very next day.
Of course, Mabel decided that Thursday morning was the time to throw a fit about going to school, or staying for lunch, or whatever she could sling at me, and I was working so hard at promising her that I’d consider thinking about letting her skip lunch the next day that I left the house without my wallet. So when I’d hurriedly peeled her off me and left her wailing at the feet of her teacher, I was not only consumed by parental stress and guilt but also had to rush home to pick up my stuff before trying to get to the optimistically scheduled 9:15 appointment.
I got there only a few minutes late, filled out all the forms in the world, had some interesting tingly electric massage thing, talked to the lovely man about my back – feeling a bit of a fraud since on the 1-10 scale of pain I hadn’t called it more than a 3 at its worst (but then, as a friend pointed out, once you’ve given birth without an epidural, the pain scale sort of shifts and it’s hard to tell what’s considered bad) – and he did some interesting maneouvers on my hips. (Phwoar.) He also took some x-rays, just to make sure there wasn’t anything funny going on with my bones, and told me to come back this morning to discuss the results.
I wasn’t convinced anything useful had happened, because nothing felt any different. And then in the middle of the night I roused a little and wondered at my lack of pain. I wasn’t feeling anything. I turned over with the greatest of ease and not a wince in sight, and went happily back to sleep. When I woke up I got out of bed like a 20-year-old and did not have to creep in an elderly manner to the bathroom as I usually do.
“I’m cured!” I announced, with jazz hands.
So I went back to tell him he was a miracle worker, and he showed me my x-rays, which demonstrate an odd lack of cartilage between the bottom two lumps (technical term) of my spine. Not none at all, just much less than there is between the other ones.
“So, it hurts because there’s actually something wrong?” I felt somehow both vindicated and utterly amazed. How strange that my body manifests a problem with pain. Huh.
So now I have to go have an MRI next week to see if I have a bulging disc or a herniated disc or I have no idea what else it might be but I probably shouldn’t google it. Ever had an MRI? What should I expect?
And I suppose I should have gone and done something about this sooner, but on the other hand I’m glad I did it eventually instead of just believing that once you’re 40 your back starts to go and there’s nothing you can do except maybe buy a new mattress and yell at the kids to get off your lawn.