for the past eight or nine years, i've felt like i've been trapped in a 60 year old woman's body.
not that that has really stopped me from doing stupid stuff like breaking bones, hoisting kids up rock walls with broken hands, or thinking that i can do things that i can't.
to be honest, i don't know which pain started first, the lower back pain or the upper back pain. i used to characterise it like this:
my upper back hurt more often, hurt more, but didn't hurt as long.
my lower back hurt not as often, didn't hurt as much, but hurt for ages when it did.
since i was an athlete, i got some tests done. x-rays, bone scans, all the jazz.
bone scan was clean. so was the x-ray. so we moved on.
my back pain got worse. and like a smart person, i ignored it. i knew my limits when it came to stuff outside of swimming. i stopped mowing the lawn, i stopped lifting heavy stuff that i should be able to lift, and i didn't participate in human pyramids.
it wasn't until that i was a freshman in college and swimming at the collegiate level that the pain got unbearably bad.
like, keep me up at night crying having problems walking and breathing bad.
back to x-rays i went. nothing. back to bone scans i went. nothing.
my swim coach told me to get it fixed over the summer, so i went to an orthopaedist like "FIX THIS PLEASE IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME?"
i got an MRI and they didn't tell me anything about it, just that i had a bulging disc in my upper back.
a disc is like a cushion between your vertebrae. a bulge meant that my vertebrae were squeezing it and squishing it and that some of it was sticking out where it wasn't supposed to. like if you squeeze an oreo and some of the frosting comes out of the sides.
that didn't explain my lower back pain, so they gave me a back brace, sent me to physical therapy, gave me six spinal injections that hurt like a bitch, and told me to have a nice life.
the brace made my lower back worse, the spinal injections didn't work and they made me cry, and i still had back pain.
i went to my chiropractor for a while. she attempted to adjust my upper back and loosen it up. her diagnosis was that i had no lower back stability so that my upper back was carrying all the weight.
after eleven weeks of physical therapy and going to my chiropractor, i still failed every lower back stability test that they gave me.
so i went back to school, avoided moving heavy objects and being a part of human pyramids.
that's me avoiding being in human pyramids.
then, this past winter, i started having lower back pain that shot straight down into my leg, down into my foot, and made my leg go numb sometimes.
this was new and alarming.
i just sang NEWWWW AND A BIT ALARMINGGGG in my head from beauty and the beast, by the way.
i went to webmd and quickly learned that i had spinal cancer.
... i do not actually have spinal cancer.
so i looked up some chiropractors that i could help me out. i hadn't had too much success with my old one and her kids had left my swim team for our enemy swim team, so i was bitter.
i ended up calling dr. busch and scheduling an appointment.
at the time, i didn't know that dr. busch was all over the radio and all over TV with his AMAZING AND LIFE CHANGING DRS PROTOCOL TRADE MARK.
so i went in for an appointment and they were like, "did you hear about us through a radio advertisement?" and i was like "lol no you were the first link i found and old people seemed to like it here, so i'll fit right in."
boy, do old people like it there. i am the only person there under the age of seventy-five.
dr. busch is like gilderoy lockhart but smart. he came in, shook my hand, took a bunch of x-rays, told me that i had degenerative disc disease in my lower back and that i had a horrible horrible disc bulge down there that was causing me problems, and he'd go over my VERY OWN SUPER SPECIAL TREATMENT PLAN TRADE MARK. NEVER FEAR, DR. BUSCH TRADEMARK IS HERE.
then he gave me a signed copy of his book and i just about threw up in my mouth.
(i also got a complementary t-shirt. it's actually pretty comfy.)
and then the bill came and it was four thousand dollars.
did i want to spend that much money for an asshole to fix my back pain?
my parents and i decided to go for it, with me paying a thousand of it in installments every month. because i'd had eight years of failed attempts and this was probably actually going to work.
at least that's what it said on TV! and the TV can never lie, right?!
so we paid for it.
it was around this time that dr. busch started grabbing my shoulder affectionately and calling me kiddo.
uh, no. don't do that, bro. you have kids older than me.
according to him, i was the PERFECT candidate for his DRS protocol, the only thing like it in the country, and that i would be a huge success because i was young and vital and all that crap. at this point, now that i'm done with the treatment, i don't even know what the DRS thing stands for.
when i went in for treatment, after they gave me a bunch of hippie pills to take, they had me lay down on a table with a pillow under my upper back because at that point, i couldn't lie down flat. they put me in a harness around my hips which connected to an angsty machine in front of me.
then they put ANOTHER harness over my shoulders and tightened it so much that it was hard to breathe.
the harness around my hips was attached to the angsty machine. they set the angle of my harness running to the machine, and then they pressed a bunch of buttons, stuck a cannula in my nose, shut off the lights, and let me play on my phone for twenty-five minutes while the machine groaned and made angry noises at me.
the DRS machine basically does this: while i'm strapped to the table and pretty much unable to move, it physically hones in on my two problem vertebrae and moves them to where they're supposed to go, making my disc get all big and happy and squishy again and letting it breathe and go back to its original position before my vertebrae got angry and smooshed it.
i did it four days a week for like, four weeks. then three days a week, then two, then once a week, then once every two weeks, and now i'm done.
i'd either nap while i was hooked up, read through @mugglehustle on twitter, or text the man friend. then when i was done i got some electrical stimulation on my back and sat around with a bunch of old ladies who told me that i was too young for this kind of thing.
when i say old, i mean old. miss dorothy and miss grace are both 93. they shuffle in every day, talk about their dead husbands, and how one of them still goes out to karaoke every tuesday with her son.
when i'm 93 i hope that i'm staying out til midnight at karaoke bar. i mean, HOT DAMN.
the treatment wasn't that bad. i eventually started getting adjustments from dr. busch personally and not just getting the DRS treatments with his entirely female staff. so he'd come in and say, "good morning, kiddo!" and grab my shoulder and i spent like, a month trying to find a way to tell him that like, i was twenty-three (at the time) and working two jobs to support myself.
so finally with about a month left of treatment he asked me how i was and i said very pointedly, "well i'm very busy working two jobs to support myself as a young woman with a liberal arts degree" and that seemed to alert him that i wasn't like, twelve.
he still kept calling me kiddo, though.
now that i'm all done with the treatment, i have exciting news, and that is that...
MY BACK DOESN'T HURT!
i mean, it does sometimes. it did when i vacuumed today.
BUT MOST OF THE TIME IT DOESN'T HURT!
so... four thousand dollars well spent?
now my dad is treating my back like this insane investment. when i told him about the insane inflatable 5K he was like, "your back is worth $4,000! do not ruin it! do not total it!"
i mean, i have a pretty good idea of what i can and can't do with my body.
and since i did this weird treatment with a creepy dude that gave me a free book that i'm never going to read, i can do a lot more than i used to.
now, if i can stop breaking bones and spraining things and tearing ligaments, maybe i'll be in the body of a twenty-four year old and not a forty year old.
that's the dream.
"do you dream of freedom from your back pain? look no further than the DRS treatment, which is very costly, doesn't accept insurance, and is run by a creepy middle-aged man that dyes his hair and will probably call you kiddo!"