Welcome to Part Three of my two-part series on back pain. (And you thought after last week I would have nothing else to say on the topic. Well, let me tell you: by the end of this post you’ll see just how true that statement is.)
There were two developments in pain management this week. On Monday, I went back to my chiropractor for my regularly scheduled weekly visit. “Feeling any better?” she asked.
I don’t like this question. On the surface, you think it would be very easy to answer. Like, let’s say that last night you accidentally ate twelve pounds of french fries. You felt sick to your stomach and swore you wouldn’t ever eat twelve pounds of french fries again. This week. Then this morning, you woke up, and with the french fries now well along on their magical digestive journey, you feel much better.
But with this come-and-go sort of back pain, I’m never really sure if I am feeling any better. This is more like eating twelve pounds of french fries last night but then only eleven today. “I, uh, think I feel better?” It might technically be true, but it’s also potentially misleading.
“I don’t know. Maybe a little?” I say, answering the question she asked two paragraphs ago.
I think the other problem with this question has to do with my other disability: my constant compulsive need to make everybody else feel happy. If I’m not feeling any better, and I tell her so, then I feel bad because she wasn’t able to magically heal me overnight. She hears, “Sorry, but I’m just not feeling better yet.” But in my brain, it sounds more like, “YOU HAVE FAILED ME FOR THE LAST TIME!”
Anyway, I went through the usual adjustment. (“That bone-snapping sound means it’s working!”) She recommended a couple new exercises. (“I want you to roll yourself up into a tight little ball and have your friends push you around the parking lot twice a day.”) And, as usual, I felt all wonderful and tingly for one or two hours afterwards. If only I could get that to last.
The second development came yesterday, when I had my first physical therapy appointment.
“How are you feeling?” the therapist asked.
“Geez, doesn’t ANYONE read my blog?!” I said to myself, rolling my eyes in self-absorbed disbelief.
She looked at me with mild alarm and invited me to lay on table. Since it was my first time, I got to go through all the first-time stuff again. After that, she assessed the situation by seeing how far my various body parts would bend and in which directions.
“Does that hurt?” she asked, as I lay flat on my stomach looking up at my heels.
“I’m good,” I managed to squeeze out through clenched teeth.
After forty-five minutes of “therapy” she set up four more appointments over the next two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing some results, but I’m also bracing myself for the end of the fourth appointment when she inevitably asks, “Are you feeling better?” and I have to tell her how she’s FAILED ME FOR THE LAST TIME.