My doc asked me what patients thought about when they had a pain, knowing that he would solicit the answer from me. What?, I said when we were in the examining room. My mind froze trying to think of any answer. Focusing on my running injury which was why I was there; I did not get the game.
Cancer, he said. Anybody with your history would think of that first. I did not. I wanted to run again and not be dealing with sciatica, which was what I thought was my problem. How long ago was your cancer, anyway?
18 years ago. Oh, I did not realize it was that long ago. Of course, a return could happen after that interval of time, but….ok then. Never mind.
I was looking for a referral to a sports doctor. He obviously was looking for something else. We did x-rays. We looked at them in the hallway. Most of my patients have not the good reason you do for your back pain. Look at these vertebrae. The bottom two were out of line about an inch. It was rather dramatic.
I always knew my back was of a bad design. I am not supposed to do this, but you should see a chiropractor.
I had seen one 26 years ago. In the office, he provided me with a technique to deal with my back up to now. He put blocks under my hips while I lay on my stomach, and I was a quick study. I put a pillow under my hips for sleep for the next 26 years. It worked until now.
I was trying to be smart. We pay two thirds of our base income for health insurance and it does not allow for chiropractors. Why do these docs occupy such a questionable part of the medical world? Why aren’t their offices built of pink marble like everyone else’s? It could be because they don’t have a strong lobby in Washington. That would be a good thing.
I am not sure I can trust. Remembering vividly my first visit, there were two old scales, the kind from the fifties or sixties, placed side to side. You know the ones with the bump up in the middle and the magnification of the number of pounds that you were? And they had little black ribbed mats glued on the surface? He had me step one foot on each scale. Yep. Your body is all screwed up. Why does a device like this make me doubt? FYI, the two scales are still there in the office. He did not use them on me this time. They are now probably part of his collection of antique devices.
He took x-rays too. They looked like the others, except he did my neck as well. Are you sure that you don’t have any neck pain? Look at these deposits of bone where there should be none. No, but I have a strong will. I believe you do, he said.
Just patch me up so I can run, please.
I had metastatic colon cancer in the early nineties. I should not be alive. Most who have had this problem are not. My dad is not. He died at 47, and I have the gene for colon cancer. As I proceeded through my cancer years, there was one primal scream that came from deep within: I am not doing this.
And I did not. My will prevailed after four operations. It was very simple. I would not entertain the idea of having cancer, and took great pains to always think of it in the past tense. I had other techniques as well. Having found two pairs of beautiful dark lavender suede loafers, I wore these cancer cell stomping shoes until they wore out. My art at the time was all about claiming and then exorcizing cancer.
So I have not run for six weeks, trying to be smart, and not trying the chiropractor. I have attended two high school cross country meets where students with lithe bodies, streaming hair and red faces crossed the finish line in droves, boys and girls. It was hard to take.
The day after the last meet, three days ago, and still in pain, I ran. Did my entire four miles, and also picked up 34 cans. Strange pains were shooting around, and I knew that this was because I was favoring my left side and carrying 34 cans in a grocery bag. But I did it.
And I did it yesterday and today. The pain is not like it was. Should have depended upon my will first off. That’s my best characteristic, not trying to be “smart” about anything. Being smart feels foreign.