April 21st, 2010

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In Which What I Didn't Know Was Hurting Me Feels Better

I've been going to physical therapy since my back decided it had enough me last month. It's been enormously helpful, I can't even tell you. Mostly it's just supervised exercise, although they do this thing called traction in which they gently stretch out your spine too. Most of my issues were with my lower back, and sciatica from the pinched nerve. In a short time, I feel so, so, so much better. I can't emphasize that enough.

Last night, my mid-back was a little stiff and I mentioned it to the PT guy. He explained that it has probably been hurting for a while, but I was just noticing now that the pain in my lower back and legs is all but gone. I thought, yeah, sure...

Anyway, the solution, he said, was to crack my back. I was a little weary of this idea, because I had no idea what it meant, really. I can't stand the sound of people cracking their knuckles - nails on a chalkboard, you know? Anyway, he has me lay down and cross my arms, and sort of half-turn to the side. Then he majorly invades my space, and starts putting pressure on.

This is where I start squirming, "uhm, ow," when my back makes these little popping noises.

He says, "Okay, deep breath," and next thing you know my back makes this god-awful crunching sound. I screamed "Oh my God!" Actually I may have squeaked it - my voice gets high-pitched when something surprises me like that.

Because I reacted so loudly, everybody in the PT room commented and sort of laughed. Mortifying.

But here's the thing - in the space of about a minute, once I passed through the shock, I realized: I felt friggin great. Better than I have in months, maybe years. I had pain for so long that it felt normal. Not to throw around hyperbole, but seriously, the relief was kind of amazing.

It's like I've been holding my breath, and suddenly I can exhale.

My back is a little black and blue this morning from where he put the pressure on, but compared to what it used to feel, I don't care.