It’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been to a chiropractor, and all that I really remember is that I felt ten times better once I got adjusted. So much has happened to me over the past ten years that it’s no fucking wonder I’m about a billion times worse than I was back then. I’m not even exaggerating here.
Before any kind of x-rays were taken or any popping of bones started, I was asked a simple question: what did I hope to get out of these chiropractic sessions?
“I just want to be able to live my life.”
It’s sad how true this actually is. Things that people take for granted are things that I either can’t do or have a very difficult time doing: chewing*, sleeping, hiking, lifting weights, existing. I am pretty much in constant pain and have been since I was in eighth grade, but it’s gotten worse over the past few years. Honestly, I should have known that this wasn’t going to be an easy fix, but this is also the girl who looked at her freshly burned leg back in 2007 and blissfully believed that it was only first degree and that ibuprofen would fix it**.
Anyway, the doctor gently felt down my spine, and everything was fine until he got to my neck. Yeah … my C3 vertebrae is situated pretty far to the right. Like, you don’t have to be a medical professional to know by just feeling it that it’s not supposed to be there. I’m probably not the worst case he’s ever seen, but he was definitely concerned.
And not only that, but the bottom four vertebrae were basically fused together in a straight line, as opposed to nicely curved as they should have been. No wonder I’d been in so much pain. The rest of my spine was basically fine, kind of meander-y at worst, but essentially straight and only needing a few simple adjustments.
Then we got to the actual treatment, which … oh, goodness. You know when I don’t swear that this was A Thing. Just for future reference.
The doctor tried adjusting my back on those weird chiropractor tables to no avail because of course my body would be a dick like that. He used his full 6’4″ weight on me at least three times, and to his surprise – and my disappointment – nothing happened. Not even a teeny pop. Thankfully, he did crack my neck, though, which ohmygod felt so much better afterward, but there’s still a lot of pain there. I can’t really bend my head to the side very well – and haven’t been able to for months – and it still hurts quite a bit to open my mouth more than an inch or two. But a ton of tension was released in those two cracks of bone, and I am weirdly looking forward to more. My body needs this.
Now I’m on an aggressive twelve-week treatment plan, where I go every week for adjustments. I’ve got a special pillow on order for me that I’m supposed to wear for ten to fifteen minutes at night to help guide my neck back into a curved position, and there’s a whole set of massages for my face muscles that I get to do when I brush my teeth. It’s kind of exciting to finally be doing this, but it’s also really daunting because I have so far to go before I start truly feeling better. I spoke with one of the receptionists who told me it took her a month of weekly visits to actually move anything in her back, and that upset me a bit because I’m not great at the waiting. I want to get back into the weight lifting habit I just recreated. I want to be able to open my mouth to eat a sandwich. I want to yawn without having to hold the side of my face to mitigate any over-opening my jaw might do. I want to sleep soundly at night and not be woken up by sharp pains in my neck. I want to exist without pain. I really don’t think that’s too much to ask. But I have to be patient and hope that next Tuesday’s appointment will show at least some improvement.
Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Art Credit: Masson Spine Institute
* I have really bad TMD (temporomandibular disorder) which is basically the cause of all of this fun stuff.
** It was third degree burns that required two surgeries and nearly a full year to heal.