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Posts Tagged ‘orthopedic’

My lower back has not been happy with me for sometime. I try to take excellent care of it, but I do sit at a computer for a living. And sometimes the lower back says ENOUGH!

I have a series of stretches that I learned from Peter Egoscue’s book, Pain Free at Your PC that my lower back and I just adore. They have kept us out of the company of orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, and cortisone injections for years. My back and I swear by them.

But last August, after walking around hilly Seattle one afternoon while vising my youngest child who was interning for Microsoft, my lower back said I HATE YOU by shooting pain spasms through my left hip and left leg. Not wanting to be a kill joy (I hate to travel with complainers) I said nothing to Michael, but did my magic stretches as soon as I was back at the hotel. Only this time, they didn’t seem to work against my back’s Major Rebellion. No amount of cajoling and reminding my back of the dangers of orthopedic surgeons and of the negative attitudes of physical therapists (as a breed, they tell you EVERYTHING is YOUR fault) would persuade my back to stretch itself out like a good little kitty and go on with life.

So began my five-month journey to two Orthos and to two groups of physical therapists. Ortho One said sciatica and sent me to some monumentally grumpy physical therapists. After two visits, I switched to a group of three very cheerful PT’s, who happily beat on my back and disagreed among themselves and with me about what was wrong. Like vampires sucking blood, they happily gobbled up my insurance-paid physical therapy sessions and then threw me back in the pond, not much better. Ortho Two offered cortisone injections (at the height of the injections that killed people with meningitis) and looked crestfallen when I said no, thanks, I’m not into Russian roulette.

Christmas came and I didn’t want to think about it. I zumba’ed when I could but had to give up the elliptical at the gym for the BORING treadmill that doesn’t give me much of a workout.

Then last month I hit upon the bright idea of asking my family doctor for a referral to a scoliosis specialist because I’ve always known that was the problem. No one found the curve in my back until I was quite grown up and until it had curled up and settled in nicely for life. All I had to do was look into the mirror and see how the curve was getting worse. It wasn’t rocket science. I was in pain because my left and right halves were matching less and less all the time.

Grudgingly Fam Doc gave me the names of some specialists, but he said, look, what you’re looking for is physical therapy to make it better. True. And, he said, there’s this great chiropractor. WAIT! A WHAT? No, no. Not like in chiropractor. She’s more of a physical therapist.

So that was how I came to have a two and a half hour session of pure terror last Tuesday in the chiropractor’s office. And she definitely was not a physical therapist.

She spent the first half hour telling me scoliosis horror stories and impressing upon me how I could no longer live without her. She mentioned “adjustments” and when I asked her what that meant, she said, Oh, I’ll show you later. She used two big, loud scary machines to pound my poor little back until I got off the last one and hid in the bathroom for a while. I should have just walked out the front door, but I was waiting for the physical therapy to begin.

It never came. Instead, she wrenched my poor neck around so hard she reinjured it. I fell out of a tree when I was a kid and damaged some vertebrae and the one thing I tell every massage therapist before they touch me is DON”T TOUCH MY NECK! And after she wrenched it the first time and I told her to stop, she repeated her performance.

I dashed home, grabbed the ice packs, and was upset for the a rest of the day. To win my freedom from being held hostage in her office, I had promised to come back on Thursday.

Ha! Fat chance that was going to happen.

I was so angry, I started to do the unprofessional thing, and not even call on Wednesday to cancel the appointment, but I did. How I wish I hadn’t. She clearly had some sort of major mental problem. She called me four times screaming at me on the phone because I wasn’t coming back. The fifth and sixth times she called, I just raised the receiver a notch and threw it back into the cradle.

On Thursday night I woke up in a cold sweat at 4 a.m. You know the kind that lets you know you’ve done something REALLY STUPID, but at least you are STILL ALIVE. I turned on the light and took some deep breaths and thought about it for a while. What I had encountered in the chiropractor’s office had been violence. She had been violent when she wrenched my spine this way and that. The machines had been violent when they pounded on my back. But I hate violence of all kinds. For me, healing is about being positive and gentle.

Then I kicked myself. The answer was Egoscue. They have a clinic here, and they treat scoliosis. The stretches I knew how to do had never let me down. I just needed a bigger arsenal of gentle weapons to get better. I hadn’t needed to go looking for the answer. It had been staring me in the face since Day One of my back’s Major Rebellion in Seattle.

Today I’m headed off to the Egoscue clinic. If I had listened to myself all along, I would have known that was the answer. But I let the chatter of all the other people I had seen – the two Orthos, the grumpy and cheerful PT’s – become so loud in my head that I forgot the true path to healing is always listening to what’s inside ourselves.

 

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