I am up before dawn to see my chiropractor for the early bird special. With a 7 a.m. appointment, there is no wait; we beat the city traffic, and best of all Le Frenchman can chauffeur me there. For as long as I can remember I have suffered from chronic back pain. The decline began in college when a Big Mama landed on my back on a rebound in a basketball game. After that I walked so crooked that my college roomies tilted the pictures in our apartment to make me feel better. I have tried every treatment that exists, except surgery, and have become resigned to the fact that, okay, my back hurts, but life goes on.
Take one spine; add two herniated lumbar disks, three compressed dorsal vertebrae, four whiplashes and five concussions, and what do you get? One heck of a backache! My bod has undergone a lifetime of trauma. Bad back is an understatement. Yet if you look at me, you’d never know, because I keep on keeping on.
Here is how I cope with a full-time job, cross Atlantic travel and a semi active life.
- Take mini breaks. I have a yoga mat in my office at school; I lay down and stretch in the middle of the day.
- Wear tennis shoes with orthopedic soles. If your feet are imbalanced, your spine will misalign. Heels are a big no-no !
- Use both sides of the body equally especially when lifting.
- Invest in a good recliner and firm mattress to sleep on and a great pillow.
- Alternate heat and cold. Sometimes only an anti inflammatory medicine can help the healing process begin as the muscles will become inflamed to protect the injured area.
- Find a good chiropractor!
- Try a combination of alternative medicine – physical therapy, massage, relaxation and meditation techniques.
- Maintain mobility by staying fit – sometimes it is too painful to sit, but usually I can walk without too much discomfort.
- If you have acute pain, limit riding in a car. If you do have to travel, stop, get out, and stretch every half hour.
- If it hurts to sit, stand, or walk–then crawl. My Swiss chiropractor recommends getting down on « quatre pattes » as the crawling movement is natural before we became upright, back breaking bipeds.
- Swim – there is no pressure on the joints and the water soothes the soul.
- Find a good partner even if it means going halfway across the world.
When I get discouraged from the pain, I try to focus on someone else’s troubles. There is always a student, a colleague or a friend that is facing challenges far greater than a bad back. Anyway, I won’t be upright forever in my next life, I’ll be a fish.