In May of 2008, I ran my very first half marathon: the Inaugural Geist Half Marathon. I finished in 2:56:02 — not a world record by any means, but I was just happy to finish. The course was hillier than I expected (though, knowing the Geist area, I should have expected hilly. But uphill for 11 miles was more than I had bargained for!) By the end, I was completely exhausted and my left hip flexor was killing me. A post-race massage (that lasted all of about 3.2 minutes — apparently the therapists were tired of being there by the time I finished the race) didn’t help much. But I figured stretching and icing would fix things.
The hip flexor got a little better over the months, but it still hurt when I ran any significant distance. I kept trying to stretch it, but it never seemed to totally heal. Then, in January of 2009, I bent over to pick up a towel that had fallen on the kitchen floor, and a white-hot pain shot through my lower back. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stand up again. And that would have led to a difficult life. Can you imagine doing the grocery shopping, bent over with a dishtowel in your hand? I did stand up, but the pain didn’t really improve. Sitting for long periods of time was especially painful. I determined that the two injuries were probably linked, but I didn’t know what to do about it.
After about a week, I decided I needed to see some sort of medical professional. I work in a pain clinic, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. Pain pills or injections would just mask the problem, and I wanted to fix the issue. Chiropractic or physical therapy seemed my best options. I have friends who love their chiropractors, so I decided to give that a try. I got a recommendation from my father-in-law and made an appointment.
I went in for the initial evaluation, then the x-rays, then some sort of electrical stimulation therapy. They had me lie face down on a table, and they put four big suction cups on my back. It totally reminded me of The Machine from The Princess Bride. I was afraid that when it was over, they’d say, “I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. I might eventually go as high as ten, but I really don’t know what that would do to you.” They turned on The Machine and I felt little tingles in the suction cups for about 15 minutes. It was weird. I did ask them if they were aliens sucking out my soul (because in addition to having watched The Princess Bride far too many times, I also watch a lot of science fiction). They said no, but then I pointed out that if they really were aliens sucking out my soul, they probably wouldn’t admit it, and they agreed.
Then I saw the doctor again, who did pretty much what I’d been expecting the whole time. I lay on my back and he did some pulling, then on my side and he twisted me until I heard a crack. This is called adjustment, though it seems like it should have a more dramatic name than that. When I think of one, maybe I’ll suggest it to the doctor.
He said that after an initial adjustment, he likes to see patients back the next day. After that, he’d want to see me three times a week for four weeks. That’s a little more than I’d bargained for, and the dollar signs started flashing in my head, and I was having to miss more work than I’d like. Still, I preferred this kind of treatment to medications or injections, and I hardly ever miss work so I figured an hour here and there would be okay.
I continued to see the doctor three times a week, then twice a week, then once weekly. Then I advanced to twice monthly, and now I’ve graduated to once a month. I’m hoping that by the end of the year, I’ll just be on an as-needed basis. Each time I go, they hook me up to The Machine for another 15 minutes and I get another adjustment. The chiropractor says he is pleased with how the adjustments are going and that my pelvis adjusts very well. (Way to go, pelvis.)
I was telling my mom about these visits, and she said, “My mom took me to a chiropractor when I was little.” I was very surprised. It seems that chiropractors went through a terribly long phase of being thought quacks, and I was suprised that my grandmother, a woman I don’t remember but who in my mind is very serious and very conservative, would try such an alternative treatment. But when my mother was little (about 8 or 9, I think) she had what they later found out was a pinched nerve. At first, though, they didn’t know what the trouble was. I can’t remember all the symptoms Mom had (and I don’t know if my mom reads my blog, but Mom, if you do, comment and remind me!) Grandma took her to Riley Children’s Hospital where they wanted to blow air into my mom’s brain. Now I don’t know who ever thought that sounded like a good idea, and even then the doctors told my grandmother that my mom might die from it. Apparently, Grandma whisked her little girl out of there and found a chiropractor who located the problem and fixed it right up.
I must say I’m glad.
Now, my mom is healthy and alive, and I can run again without pain. I’m officially a fan of chiropractic.
And I hope I still have my entire soul.