I went to the chiropractor for the first time this week. For about three weeks I've had a nagging, dull pain, like someone has stuck their thumb up under my right shoulder blade. I kept thinking I could twist and stretch and pop something back into place, but it was getting worse, until I had trouble sleeping with the discomfort.
But still I waited for a Check Engine light to come on or something.
Anyway, I finally took charge of my own destiny and made an appointment with the chiropractor in My Little Town. It was odd on so many levels.
The entertainment began with making the appointment. "Do you know where we're located?" asked the nice lady. I said, "I THINK you're on the state highway, just north of Good Food restaurant." She laughed and agreed, and said they could see me in half an hour.
This chiropractic office does a brisk business. The sign out front offers CDL drug testing and orthotics for plantar fasciitis among the practice areas. And the waiting room was surprisingly full for a Tuesday morning at 9:00. There was a 90-year-old man (he told me) who said that my purse was open and it would be easy for anyone to reach and and take stuff. "Have at it," I told him. He said, "If I thought you had money, I would." Then there were a couple of rural types who were laughing and joking about their drug tests, followed by a lady with a visibly stiff back. I put down "c-spine" as my chief complaint, and waited.
The wait was not nearly as long as it is at a medical doctor's office. I was ushered to a small room with a low, padded bench and some mysterious equipment, and Doctor Dan read through my paperwork. He asked, "Are you a nurse?" because of the "c-spine" comment. Apparently it's an uncommon term outside of medical practice. (I used to do medical transcription for a team of orthopedic surgeons, so maybe that's why it's familiar to me.)
He had me sit on the bench while he probed around my neck and spine with his fingers. He explained that the spine is made of disks that move around, and I had a few that were out of alignment - but the problem was that my trapezius muscle had gotten so tight that it was holding everything out of alignment. We would work on loosening up the muscle and do some adjustments.
So I lay face up and he rolled my head around, then grabbed the jaw and twisted until my neck popped audibly. I hollered "Ow!" and he laughed, then popped it in the other direction. He had me cross my arms and roll to one side, breathe in and out, and try to make an adjustment lower down. I didn't feel or hear the result of that, but he seemed satisfied.
Then it got weirder. He had me lie face down. Then he attached pads to my shoulders, tested my pain tolerance for some creepy-crawly vibrating thingies, plunked a sandbag on my shoulders and ... went away. The creepy crawlies were weird, but the sandbag was the worst part. I really wanted out of there by the time the timer went off.
Doc came back and sprayed my shoulders with Icy Hot, which smelled like Ben-Gay, then took me to a converted carport where there were various odd-looking beds. He put me on a heated, vibrating waterbed, with a cervical collar around my neck and a bolster under my knees, and set another timer.
I know some people think vibrating chairs and beds are a luxury. I'm not one of them. I don't like it. The doc and his assistant both teased me about taking a nap, and wouldn't I like to have one of these at home; I just gritted my teeth and waited for it to end. Meanwhile I got to eavesdrop on the 90-year-old man, who was testing neck pillows. He settled in for a long negotiation with Doctor Dan once he selected his favorite. Old Man had a back brace/girdle that he'd only worn twice, so he'd have the wife warsh it up good and then trade it in for the new pillow. Doctor Dan took it with good grace, laughing and trying to cajole him out of it.
As he left, the old man patted my foot and said, "Have a good day, Grandma." I don't think he took anything out of my purse.
Finally, it was time to pay the co-pay (insurance covers most) and schedule the next appointment. As I stood at the reception window, the other chiropractor, Doc Brown, came and put his hand on mine, which was weird and creepy. It turned out he knew who I was, and considered himself a buddy of my late husband's, so I guess that was a bonding moment. (Funny. Dale only mentioned him with resentment because you can't just go to the chiropractor - they want you to keep coming back all the time!)
Two days. That's how soon I was supposed to come back. And I did! We repeated the entire treatment, but this time that trap muscle wasn't so tight and I started out feeling about 80 percent better.
Since the treatment, I feel a little stiff and sore but the main complaint is all but gone. Doctor Dan said we're fighting age, gravity and arthritis, and now that we've dealt with the acute complaint, we need to work on the underlying causes. I understand. I also understand Dale's resentment of the repeat appointments. Just fix it and let me get on with my life!
As far as getting on with my life, I realized that my shoulder hurt most when I'd been working at home on a laptop, with its tiny screen and poor positioning on the kitchen table. So I went out and bought a larger monitor that I can position at the right height - which Doctor Dan showed me - and get rid of some of that hunching.