Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chronic Lower Back Pain and a Chiropractor's Advice... or "Are you one of those all or nothing kind of guys?

After thirty plus years of ignorance, I finally came to grips with my mortality and I don't like it one damn bit. It's not so much about the aging process, living with pain, being a tough guy or even the thought of what becomes of a person's heart, mind or soul once we pass on... to whatever or wherever.

I've been the recipient of a "tweek" or three doing, sometimes, the most simplest things.

Though baseball players come up with some of the most ridiculously lame excuses for contract violations or their on the field performance, I can really sympathize with Cubs great, Sammy Sosa, when he said he hurt his back sneezing! I have actually done that and it put me out of commission for days. Since that time I have had situations where I am about to blow my brains out with a back breaking sneeze but my brain somehow, I don't know how brains perform this feat, says,"Oh know you don't, nose. Not now, maybe later... I tell you when!"

The anticipation that your big sneeze buildup creates has men diving for cover as women and children run to any escape route. Then, all of a sudden, your sneeze turns into nothing or, at the very least, one of those little, dainty Betty Boop type disturbances like AAAAAH-AH-AH-AH...chu! If you are in public and you pull one of those unmanly, falsetto bloopers someone is bound to tell you later that you can explode your eardrum to bits and pieces by holding back your sneeze.

"Just let 'er rip, dude! Better than splattering bloody ear drum parts all over the walls... dude!' It is easier to just thank them for their concern of my welfare, than to use the Sammy Sosa card.

Nevertheless, I've hurt my back peeling potatoes, chopping onions, pouring oil into the car's engine block, vacuuming, making the bed, unplugging a lamp, popping off a bottle cap, putting on underwear, pulling off underwear, which is a real "right moment" killer, let me tell you! It never happens when you are in the gym trying to impress the guys with your strength ( nowadays, I don't know why you would want to do such a thing! ) or picking up fifty pound sack of live crawfish or pulling your 900 pound lawn tractor out of a ditch that'll hurt your back. It is the little things.

Well, then again, it is the little things after one has a real BIG little thing.

See, I hurt my back, big time, playing flag football in 1976. I know what'cha saying, 1976? And you suffered all this time, never once seeing a specialist or even your son's pediatrician? "What's the matter, no health insurance? Self employed, huh? Man, that's a drag!"

"Well, uh, actually no... and yes!" ( I'll let you figure the correct answer to the appropriate questions, it isn't hard. )

Shall I explain to you how it was the waning minutes of a six point game, with us in the lead, third and about five or six yards to go and I just knew the quarterback was gonna try something underneath in my zone, probably a crossing pattern and how I avoided that offensive guard pulling out, and, and sure enough, out of the corner of my eye, here comes the tight end, zooming across and the ball is thrown and I knew it , I knew it, and I jump up high and ...Crash!

I was the momentary hero because I intercepted the pass, but when I got up, I looked like a pretzel. Felt like one too! Fast forward to the last conversation I had with my chiropractor and new found friend, Fred Miller.

Fred has his practice on the Northshore in Mandeville, LA and was recommended to me by my wife who had injuries sustained in a car accident. He was recommended to Therese by my brother, who is a pain management physician and had been administering prolo-therapy to me and Therese for years. Fred is an athletic style chiropractor having run track and field and cross country in college and keeps himself in shape today playing tennis, mountain biking and running. 

The fibrosis or scar tissue ( ) surrounding my back that was really starting to affect my mobility and flexibility was being broken up allowing me freer movement.

"Ben, we've been working on you for the last two months, three times a week and I can't believe it, but your body has responded admirably... and after all these years,"

"I know, thank you. I plan to take this body with me when I die," I said. " I know what all the knowledgeable theologian's say, but I don't care, heaven or hell, it is coming with me... or I ain't going!"

Looking rather stunned, he continued,"It is a testament to the body's ability to heal itself and your dedication to stay in shape in spite of the damage you've done to it." ( Doc always has a subtle way of getting his point across! ) He continued, "I'd give us all a B+... but... "Ben, you're not getting any younger and you can't expect your body to do what you use to. For your back and the rest of your body, motion is lotion. I want you to keep on moving, but just try to do it with a little more moderation," he said. "If you don't learn how to tell you body when, your body eventually will!"

And then, he said,"I probably already know the answer to this, but let me ask you anyway, are you a all or nuthin' kinda guy?"

Well, gee, doc, I thought to myself, quickly, how am I supposed to answer that? Should I say no, being as succinct and "nuthin" as I could be. Or should I say, well doc, it all started when I was a little guy and my momma fixed me a pizza, and uh, I went ahead and ate the whole thing in one sitting and from that time on, I never could just, uh... And go on and on, ad infinitum!

I must admit I am as flexible as I can ever recall. I still awaken with dull back pain, but it quickly goes away as I continue moving in the morning. The prospect looks and feels great. I should have listened to my loving wife years ago to go ahead an get it all checked out. I really don't understand why I was so stubborn about something that has been so positive for me. All those years of pain and stiffness and... attitude!

But, I have learned my lesson. No more power sets of fifteen with the dumbbells or impromptu forty mile bike excursions. It will now be just twelve power sets and a "planned" forty mile bike ride instead!