I have a dowager’s hump. There I’ve said it. As if I needed one more reason to hate this body. Man, the Universe is throwing the book at me here! Dowager’s hump, bifocals, (breasts), cortisol fat, moles, age spots. But I digress.
While building our backyard sukkah I injured my back. Perhaps the lugging, hauling, and standing on a wobbly kitchen chair drilling above my head had something to do with it. Perhaps it was doing all that and carrying around so much resentment. All I know is that by the next day my back was killing me. It’s actually an old injury. One I got when I swung Jo into her car-seat (using only my back muscles) about 7 years ago. Back then I went to a few session of physical therapy to treat it. Well, that and about a month of hot water bottles, ice packs and agony. Not to mention a probably dangerous dosage of ibuprofen ingested daily until I could stand up straight.
This time I thought I’d try a little alternative medicine. Valerie suggested a chiropractor in Brookline and I trust Val, so I made an appointment. Before seeing her though, I had to fill out a very lengthy questionare. The questionare had only a handful of what felt like obligatory questions about my physical activity – do you exercise, how often, what type – and no questions about my actual back pain. The bulk of the questions were about my emotional and loss history. Starting with birth trauma. Hmm. After that, it asked me to list the various strains, stress, suffering, and other misfortunes I’d experienced. Well, there was my father’s death. A mentally ill mother. Drug addict brother. All losses for sure. My spouse undergoing treatment for cancer. A 12 year old with Cerebral Palsy. A two year old. A job where we sustain 200 deaths each year (and let’s face it, no one calls the chaplain because they are in a good mood and things are going their way). Stress. Actually, seeing it all listed there in black and white, was a little nauseating. At first glance there, it sure did look like my life sucked. And I contemplated, briefly, erasing some of the checked boxes. I didn’t want this doctor to pity me for the calamity my life appeared to be. But if I couldn’t be honest with her, I felt it made little sense to go to the appointment.
So to cut to the chase, she was amazing! She was quite casual about all the vicissitude in my life, only pointing out that stress can and does manifest itself in the body. My stress is like a physical burden literally on my back. Well, yeah. The theoretical and emotional pain I am in crushes me, weighing me down, compressing, suffocating. So what am I going to do about it?
Pray. Meditate. Breathe. Contemplate. Reflect.