The doctor had me in what I think wrestlers call a half Nelson. This was one of many holds he had used to contort my body, but in all fairness, I did ask for it. After three months of chronic back pain, I couldn’t stand the thought of jeopardizing my France trip, so I broke down and allowed my surgeon to send me to physical therapy. In a scene that shimmered with situational irony, it seems you must sometimes endure pain in order to cure it.
The doctor was a friendly guy with a wide smile and lots of teeth. After declaring that we were both the same age and then reminding me that we were both rapidly approaching 40, a statement I found unkind since I was prepared for physical pain but not for emotional trauma, he asked me to attempt a few basic stretches and exercises. After looking at the curve of my spine and then shaking his head over my pathetic attempt to touch my toes, something he considered crucial though I can’t understand why it’s so all-fire important for appendages to meet since they work in different sectors anyway, he announced that he needed to work on my back and hip before the real treatment could begin. I found these words both encouraging and ominous.
He began with a few stretches that seemed intent on dislocating my hip altogether. I guess once you pop the femur out of place, the nerves that were bellyaching about a little back discomfort finally realize what a true crisis is all about and repent of their former theatrics. After about four of those, he opened the door and called out “Aaron!” and a tall guy with a beard stepped into the room. Just looking at his assistant made me think that the logging industry was experiencing a bout with unemployment and the hands that had once wielded a chain saw were now about to crack my discs like wood chips.
“Aaron and I are going to work on this hip since your mobility is quite limited on this side.”
Hmm. It’s amazing how mobile I was suddenly feeling as the desire to run for the hills hit me. “Double teaming me now, huh?”
The doctor smiled and handed my right leg to Aaron, who tried to walk out the door with it. But before I had time to generate any ugly thoughts, the doctor took his thumb and dug into my backside like a person trying to dig a ditch along the ridge of Mt. Rushmore. My breathing became erratic, and I even stopped respiration a couple of times since it was interfering with my prayer life. The doctor obviously noticed my discomfort because he said, “Just try to relax.” Everybody’s a comedian.
After about four of these, I lay on the table with my right leg shaking so badly I wondered if it was possible to have a seizure in only one limb. The doctor used this opportunity to rearrange my carcass into a pretzel twist, and just as I was wondering what was coming next, he body slammed me. I heard my spine crack in three places and I thought, Just when I’m out of superglue at the house. He moved around the table to perform the same feat on the other side, and at this point I wanted to ask if he had picked up a few of these moves in a Vietnamese POW camp. But no, because he was only approaching 40, the same as I am.
One thing I will say for the doc is that he has a great bedside manner. He seemed interested in me as a person and managed to ask a number of questions while twisting me into a figure 8. So as I sat there with my face mashed into my knees and his knuckles grating the muscles alongside my spine, he asked about my France itinerary. I did the best I could with responses.
“We plan to hit Paris,” gasp! “and then move south,” crack! “to explore the Loire Valley,” pop! “and to visit as many castles,” groan! “as possible.” He heartily approved the journey and gave me several Must See places to consider.
I staggered out of there nearly two hours later, sore, but feeling better. I was armed with homework exercises that I was zealous to complete before the next session. He’s one teacher I would never want to disappoint. I can’t imagine what he would inflict for corporal punishment.
© 2013 – Traci Carver