Tuesday, June 21, 2011
My tangle with an octopus
So I have been experiencing lower back pain off and on for about 6 or 18 months, I can't really remember how long. It was mostly characterized by standing up from my desk, feeling the grab, then slowly easing my way to the upright position. No prob. I figured it was just another lovely side effect of turning 40-something (like the day I miraculously discovered that reading glasses make reading a whole lot better).
But about a month ago, I went down. For about 3 weeks I creaked around the house clutching my back like an old lady. It took many minutes to get into or out of bed, into or out of my car. I finally realized why every other cable channel is dedicated to beating back pain -- it sucks.
I finally went to my doc. She did an x-ray, told me my bed was to blame and gave me some muscle relaxers. I stripped the memory foam pad off my bed at home, and moved to the other side of my pillow-top mattress (a big no-no according to my doc) in Nashville (where I stay 2 nights a week), and once the pain meds allowed me to move semi normal again, I got a deep tissue massage. It was good. But not the miracle I was hoping for. So I scheduled an appointment with my acupuncturist. I've seen her before for other stuff, and I like her style.
She did her usual history, pulse, tongue examination, then asked me to bend all directions. Then she put me on my stomach with my face in a hole the size of a large lemon -- this is going to be fun -- and placed all the needles. They usually don't hurt, but the one she placed behind my knee hurt like a %$^$#@#. As she wiggled it around, she apologized, "Sorry, it necessary. Connected to back." Then she says, "Okay, you sleep." Um, I don't think so.
She returned 45 minutes later and reprimanded me for turning my head to the side (I explained that the lemon-size hole made my nose close up and when I breathed through my mouth I drooled on the floor), then plucked out all the needles. That's usually the end of the session. NOT this time.
For the next 10 minutes, she put my deep tissue massage therapist to shame. She dug a hole and buried him in the yard. This woman is about 4'10'', just a whisper of a woman, but she had hands of steel. At one point she was on completely on the table straddling me. She might have even hung from some hooks on the ceiling and tap danced.
Then she said, "I do a little cupping. It might hurt." I have NO idea what cupping is. I pictured her rolling a cup around on my back. Or pressing the rim down like she's cutting out cookies. Being face-down, I couldn't see the contraptions of torture. I'm scared, but my dad (or somebody) taught me to suck it up, so I did. Caroline perhaps described it best: It's like going to the ocean and being grabbed by an octopus. First she cranked on one suction device, then a second. After the second was in place, she released the first. So 10 seconds or so. It was unpleasant.
I knew our time was almost up, so I figured I could endure whatever she threw at me so I kept quiet. Then she said, "You perfect. I have men come in here and scream, 'Ohhhhh, that hurts!' You don't make peep." Yeah, well, my first epidural didn't take. I can handle this.
So a few minutes later she sends me on my way, feeling very loose and kneaded. She adds as I'm walking out the door, "Sometime you need a little torture to feel better." Ain't it the truth.
So after work, I zip to my mom's for a quick visit with Caroline. As I'm leaving I say, "Hey, do I have any bruises on my back?" I lift my shirt and she gasps.