Journal entry: June 20, 2010 (age 41) – Pain in the Neck
I have an intuitive sense I’m not intuitive. I have never seen Bigfoot, extraterrestrials, ghosts, or such an ugly face, but I believe in all of them. In the same way, I have always intellectually accepted the concept of alternative medicine, but never quite believed it would work for me. I am generally in tune with my mind and my emotions, but rarely with my body. We’re barely on speaking terms. (We are too, Brain – shut up! You shut up, Fingers, I’m writing this thing!)
Earlier this year, I somehow injured my back. An MRI revealed that two herniated discs in my neck were pinching three major nerves, causing intense pain in my back, shoulder, and right arm. (When I was told the damaged discs were in my cervical spine, my first thought was that my test results must have been accidentally switched with those of a woman. The thought of having a cervix frightened me more than a few ruptured discs.) For relief, I turned to every type of medical professional I could think of, and every prescription medication they could think of. I worried about getting hooked on the painkillers, but, luckily, I Vica-didn’t. The only lingering effect has been increased dependence on lame puns.
My close friends, Paul and Catherine Gordon, strongly recommended I go see their “Needle Man,” Robert Hackman, in Ithaca. “Acupuncture?” I thought, “How is that going to help?” Completely eliminating my pain with one visit was a good start. One visit. I stopped taking Vicodin that night, and have been pain-free in the weeks since. My scheduled steroid injections became unnecessary, and the specter of spinal fusion surgery has vanished, hopefully for good. Not that I wasn’t looking forward to a painful recovery, a month with my head and neck immobilized by a brace, uncertain results, huge bills, permanently reduced mobility, and an increased risk of more herniated discs above and below the fused ones, but… THANK YOU, ROBERT.
Now I feel great, and a little bit stupid. I was skeptical of a practice that has successfully treated pain and illness for thousands of years, most of them long before Western medicine got past the “there’s a demon in your pancreas” phase. Like most Westerners, I thought I needed to know why the treatment works for it to work. Now I am happy to have traded in my skepticism for huge relief. I bask in knowledge of my ignorance. I’m also thinking of legally changing my name to Grasshopper.
It’s now clear to me that the front end of this episode was also in the realm between mind, spirit, and body. The back pain began as my marriage was ending, and continued through my father’s final illness. Now that Amanda and I are helping each other transition from marriage to friendship, and my father has passed with dignity and peace, my body is also healing.
I get the point. I think.
Therefore I am,
Grateful Speck Number 984, 543, 376, 276, 014, 888.