People have tried for years to get me to go to a chiropractor.
I’ve suffered from severe back pain of varying intensity my whole life. I was born with two missing disks in my lower back. That, combined with generally bad posture for decades had finally made back pain a constant, nagging factor of my existence. Prescription drugs gave me brief periods of relief but I was afraid of becoming addicted to them and gave them up. Short of surgery, an unacceptable option in my view, there was nothing anyone could do. I finally just came to accept it and had given up any hope of release.
This winter, when the discomfort became so intense that I was becoming surly, my wife suggested going to the chiropractor. It was a familiar suggestion. People had been telling me to try it for years. But I’ve always been one of those people who casually dismissed chiropractors as quacks without actually researching what they do. So I went online and did just that. Plus, I asked around at work and found a practitioner nearby that accepted our insurance. Almost before I realized it, I had an appointment for my evaluation and first adjustment.
I was pretty nervous. I’ve been “cracking” my own back for years by bending backwards over chairs or having my wife push on the sore spot. But, like most folks, all I know about chiropractic is what I’ve seen in the movies. As I sat in the waiting room, all big eyes and sweaty palms, visions of Danny Aiello twisting Tim Robbins’ head around on his neck to the sounds of celery stalks snapping in Jacob’s Ladder kept leaping into my head. I just knew I was going to leave this place on a stretcher.
I began to feel more at ease when Dr. Moran (yes, doctor!) took about a dozen x-rays of my neck and spine from every conceivable angle. He was thorough (“He’s a good man, Jeffery. And thorough.”) and obviously knew what he was doing. (Although we both had a laugh when he realized he forgot to have me remove my belt and the buckle was visible in the film.) When he showed me what my spine looked like I was horrified. I’m no doctor but, as a former art student, I’ve seen enough skeletons to know what it was supposed to look like. And it was off by a long shot. Vertebrae were twisted around in all directions. It looked like 5:00 p.m. on the L.A. freeway. The worst areas were exactly where I could have predicted…between the shoulder blades, in the neck and the lower back. I thought it was hopeless. Doc Moran just laughed and said there was nothing there he couldn’t fix.
He had me lie down on one of those exam tables with the face cushion that looks like a little toilet seat and had me breathe out. Then he carefully counted vertebrae and placed his hands where they needed to be and…WHAM! The amount of force he used to push down on my spine was frightening. I hadn’t expected it to be so brutal. And the sound! Celery stalks indeed. My mind barely had time to process what had just happened when he turned my head to the side and pushed down on the muscles just below and to the right of my neck. The cracking sound was amazing. So was the sense of relief. He repeated this on the other side, then had me roll over and folded one of my legs up to my chest, pulled the opposite arm over and lay across my lower body. POW! My lower back went off like a gunshot. The relief there was instantaneous. He again repeated this with the other side.
Then came the scariest part. He rolled me on my side, made a fist and placed his knuckles in the center of my spine and pushed me down flat on my back. Just as I was wondering what was up, he dropped down across my chest with all his weight and the cracking sound and sensation made my eyes bulge. It wasn’t painful but it wasn’t altogether pleasant either.
Finally, the part I’d been dreading. The neck. He had me lie flat on my back and sat behind me. He turned my head sideways, did the counting vertebrae thing, Placed the side of his hand against my neck and bent by head backwards over his hand. PAKOW! The sensation, almost a burning, was exhilarating. He did it again on the other side with the same result.
After going over a few posture-improving exercises, he let me go. He warned me I might feel a little sore over the next few days (I did) and that I might feel “energized.” He said that was normal. Energized was an understatement. I felt like Superman. I felt like I could move mountains and run laps around the planet. Over the next few weeks, I went back three times weekly and the cracking effect became less and less. But so did the pain. My back problems have all but disappeared. I’ve got about 30 percent more mobility in my neck and I’ve dropped 15 pounds since I started the adjustments. Running, which used to be next to impossible, has become a three-times-a-week treat and I’m finally able to work out with free weights again. Saying “I’m a new man” sounds trite but, in this case, it fits.
I’m down to one adjustment a month now and actually look forward to them like a drug addict awaiting a fix. And I guess that’s what I am.
I’m addicted to “crack”.