The most profound insight I’ve reached lately is that a writer needs an excellent chair. Much better than the one I have, which I’m pretty sure is causing my back pain. (Another possible cause is watching TV while yielding most of the couch to a self-centered Labrador retriever. Hannah’s insistence on proximity to me for her after-dinner coma forces me to drape my legs over her in a bizarre and uncomfortable fashion that also shoves a couple of discs out of place. The writing chair is replaceable but the dog isn’t, so I’ve decided to blame the chair.)
The back pain sent me to a chiropractor. My brother-in-law, an orthopedic surgeon, wanted me to see a physical therapist for an exercise program instead. His concern was that I’d just keep going to the chiropractor instead of addressing the problem. As anyone who knows me could have predicted, I ignored a medical opinion that would involve doing a couple hundred leg lift exercises a day in favor of what I thought would be easier.
It was freezing in the treatment room, so while I waited I used my magazine to block the air conditioning vent in the floor. Then I studied the large wall chart of The Amazing Back which graphically details the hundreds of things that get wrecked by spending so much of my life sitting in front of a keyboard. In a bad chair. Maybe David is right, I thought. Maybe I should do the leg lifts and other exercises every day. Maybe take a Pilates class. It was a fleeting thought, but I had it and I’d like credit.
It was interrupted by the chiropractor’s entrance anyway. New to the area, possibly eager to please, he was very encouraging and never mentioned leg lifts or even Pilates. “Oh, I see lots of people like you who sit too much,” he said. “We can fix you right up.” Right at that moment, I didn’t mention anything about the bad chair. Or even the dog. He was so optimistic it didn’t seem necessary to mess with his day.
Once he examined my back in a sitting position, after which I noted a decline in his cheeriness, I got on the table and he wrapped my arms around my ribs, cracked my back, fiddled around more in standard chiropractor moves, and then astutely observed that my right hip is stiff as hardened cement. (That’s the one permanently jammed out of place by being jacked up like a tire as I try to squeeze a place alongside the dog.) And the rest of me is “pretty tight” too. After he tried to unstick a few more joints, he told me to flip onto my stomach, that he was going to try to loosen up my back muscles.
Okay, so “flip” might not be descriptive of my move, but I turned onto my stomach. This very nice, youngish, good guy started to raise my untucked shirt. Only he also accidentally got hold of the top of my underpants which were evidently slightly above the waistband of my trousers. (I thought I’d thrown out all those old lady underpants years ago!) He didn’t figure any of this out and kept right on pulling, while I, face down on the table, was getting the worst wedgie ever. The doctor’s glasses fogged over with the sheer physical effort he was exerting. A blinding headache born of overwhelming embarrassment completely eclipsed my back pain. It is astounding how slowly the human mind works, I learned, in a wedgie situation. Finally, I managed to gasp that I felt much better already and didn’t need my muscles loosened any further. You have never seen anyone move so quickly and efficiently to get herself out of an office following a chiropractic treatment, completely proving the wrongness of my brother-in-law’s opinion that I’d just end up going back week after week.
I am definitely buying a much better chair this week.