Friday, January 21, 2011

During the last year and a half, I have dealt with fear like no other time in my life. I have dealt with the fear of paralysis and of death, the fear of never feeling good again, of never-ending pain, and the fear of being unable to ever draw or paint again. There have been some pretty scary times.

Today I dealt with another type of fear. One that is just as personal, but one that perhaps we all have experienced at one time or another.

Let me back-track a little.

I went to a chiropractor today.

I've been to a chiropractor before. About 10 years ago actually. It was a weird experience and I was pretty certain I would never go again. Suffice to say I don't think the experience went as it was supposed to go and I felt worse afterwards rather than better. I'm still shocked that I haven't seen that guy on a DATELINE expose.

These last few months have caused me to reevaluate my opinion of that profession though, and in my quest to seek alternative methods for relief-notice I'm no longer saying 'cure' ?-I have decided to include chiropractic medicine as a viable possible solution.

Besides we had a coupon.

So I drove to the office, file folder containing all my documents from the last year in hand and hard as I try to stay positive, a little dubious. I've been disappointed so many times in the last year it's a little hard not to be jaded.

As to the issue of a chiropractor being a real doctor, I wasn't too concerned. And whatever the answer, to the question of chiropractors being real doctors is, the truth is this. I've been seeing doctors for the last year and a half and have wanted to punch every single one of them. Maybe the fact that this guy wasn't going to be a real doctor was a good thing.

The real truth is, though, the difference between the education of an MD and that of a chiropractor lies in the fact an MD trains in pharmacology and surgical procedures and and a chiropractor trains in the care of the spine. In other words, chiropractic doctors work just as hard and are okay in my book. Seriously, if someone told me that they could help me feel better by rubbing a chicken on my naked body I would consider it.

Chiropractic medicine isn't voodoo and I was willing to give it a chance today. What's the worse that could happen? Pain? Please. Numbness and tingling? Been there done that.

Besides...did I mention we had a coupon?

I got out of the car and walked into the offices of...oh..let's call him Dr. Backbender.

The office was nice. Very clean.
The receptionist was friendly.
So far so good.

But there was a problem.

Yes. That fear I was talking about earlier. It's time to talk about it.

Now, unlike the fear I was experiencing a few weeks ago, sitting in my neurosurgeon's exam room, waiting to hear whether or not I would undergo a surgery that would either paralyze me or kill me (Note: They never really went into detail in which order that might occur, but I sure as Hell know which order I would have preferred it to happen in) this fear was a different fear. A fear that more people have experienced...probably almost every minute of every day, somewhere in the world and therefore my story might reach other people.

Walking into that office today I was scared to death that I would fart when the chiropractor was working on me. And the thing that really sucks about a fear like that is, is that no matter how hard you try and put the thought of passing gas with every push and massage, and bend and twist, the thought is still there.

And unfortunately, that's what starts to happen, the very last thing you need, your brain goes into overdrive and you begin to worry. You can't help it. It;s a human thing. And sooner or later, usually sooner than later, the worry gets your stomach churning. Churning leads to bubbles. Bubbles lead know where.

So there I was. In my head. Working up myself to a nice bubbly frothy gassy worried state of mind. And the chiropractor hadn't even laid a hand on me yet. "Don't fart. Don't fart." I'm sure there have been more spiritual mantras, but for today, that was mine. "Don't fart. Don't fart."

I'm not ashamed to say it. I fart.

Oh please. Everyone farts. Although, the sad fact is, everyone doesn't admit to it.

I was once in an elevator with one other person. All of a sudden the elevator filled with a noxious odor that reeked of onion, a two day old fish sandwich and corduroy. I know I didn't break wind. That left only other suspect. The guy two feet away from me. When I caught his eye, for some sense of remorse (and saw what can only be described,most likely, as pride) he shot back a blank stare that seemed to say "Wasn't me?"

Everyone farts, breaks wind, passes gas, ass burps...Go ahead, pick a euphemism.

And those people who claim to have never baked an ass biscuit are the same people who claim to have never masterbated, voted Republican, or watched one full episode of Real Housewives of Wherever.

And as I prepared for my appointment, in which I just knew I would end up face down on a padded table with someone pressing into my body, kneading me like 255 pounds of bread dough, I knew I was going to fart. It was inevitable.

I tried to assure myself that it must happen fifty times a day in a chiropractor's office. I even created some statistics to back up this idea and a mental bar graph comparing episodes of gaseous interuptus in a chiropractor's office to those in a proctologist's office. Just in case you were wondering, it happens an astounding 97% of the time in a chiropractor's office and only 52% of the time during a proctology exam. Guess you could say the proctologists are little behind.

Or...maybe not.

Luckily, I discovered that my appointment today was more of an interview to evaluate my condition and see what the best course of action should be. There would be a discussion of my history (How much time you got Doc?) some testing of my flexibility (Touch my toes? I can't even see my toes!) and then some X-rays to get a peek at my insides.

Just for those of you who are keeping count, this is my 5th set of X-Rays (plus almost twice as many MRI's) in a year and half. My man jigglies now glow in the dark and if I'm ever lost as sea, all I need to pull down my shorts and moon the night sky.

From the sound of it, there wouldn't be too much massaging and squeezing and pressing sensitive areas that might result in a blow back. Thank GOD. Nonetheless, my stomach was in full emergency mode. I had just worried myself too much.

I noticed a bathroom down the hall and asked to be excused in between my interview and my X-Rays. THIS was my chance. If I could muster a controlled release (sort of like how firefighters start a smaller fire to help extinguish a larger fire) I might be able to save myself from some embarrassment.

I studied the small bathroom like a master thief casing a jewelry store.

The bathroom was small but there was an exhaust fan. I prayed that it would be loud enough. I prayed it would roar like a jet engine. It didn't. It was one of those quiet models. WHO THE HELL WANTS A QUIET EXHAUST FAN IN THEIR BATHROOM?!

There was also a small sink and I checked the water pressure. If my luck continued, the pipes would rattle as the water wheezed from the faucet. Damn. No such luck. New pipes. Nice and quiet. There was the muzak playing in the hallway right outside the door, and maybe it would provide some cover.

Unfortunately, there was no new construction going on in the neighborhood. Where's a bull dozer scraping up asphalt when you need one?

Okay. There was always the cough and flush maneuver. A little over the top, yes, but a desperate man doesn't stop to ask questions like that.

There's also "Oops! I've kicked over the trashcan," the "Spastically Loud Magazine Page Turn" and the "Playing With the Sounds On Your Cellphone."

My phone was in my coat, so option Number 3 was out, as was calling in a bomb threat. And just for the record, "The Bomb Threat Call" really is a last resort and should really only be utilized in the case of three events: 1) You're in the private bathroom of someone who is interviewing you for a job 2) You're in the bathroom of a girl you're about to make out with and who insisted you have Mexican for dinner and 3) You're at the Playboy mansion and Miss November is right outside the door because she has to tinkle.

The moment came and went and there was no release of pressure. I couldn't stay in there all day. People imagine much worse things when you stay in a bathroom for over twenty minutes. I had missed my chance, Call it stage fright. Performance anxiety. I guess we, as the human race, and not the cast of Jackass, spend so much of our lives trying not to fart unless we are in the comfort of our own car, am empty hotel room we are staying in alone or the dressing rooms at JC Penneys, that when the time comes to actually do it to save a little face, our bodies don't know what to do.

But I needed to release the pressure somehow and walking back to the room where the tables and exercise balls were, I took extra long sliding steps with the hopes that one little fanny burp would slip out. None did and now I felt like a human crock pot.

I could hear myself now. "Sorry, Doc."
I prayed that he would understand.
I prayed that I wouldn't sneeze.
I prayed that if I did and I farted one second later, someone would have the decency to say "GOD bless you."

The appointment ended with me being hooked up to a machine that delivered low voltage massage to my neck. An ice bag was also draped over my extremely tense shoulders. It was the best I have felt in months...MONTHS!...and I wondered if a portable unit was available for lease.

I even got the remote for the device the buzzed and whirred behind me into the sticky cold patches that had been stuck to my neck. Heck! Give a guy a remote to anything and he's a happy camper.

Over the course of the next half an hour, I slowly turned the power up on the machine and slipped into a state of euphoria as little electric pulses shot into my neck.

An appointment was made for next week in which I would get the results of my X-Rays and hopefully sit in the tingling chair with an icepack on my neck. I paid, thanked everyone and slid my appointment card into my wallet.

Then I walked out into the crisp January air and headed towards my car. Somewhere someone's car alarm was going off and from the sound it, they were out of ear shot and it would be minutes before they stuck their head out the store's front door to zap it with their remote.


I only needed a few seconds. It was after all, sooner than later.

It was a nice ride home. All tension seemed to have left my body.

Yes. All tension.

And that's "Jody" with a "y"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12, 2011.
Happy New Year.

The confetti has been swept away and Dick Clark has been sealed back into his air-tight box to await for next year's Times Square Party or Rockin' New Years (or whatever they call it now) where he will once again fend off Ryan Seacrest's attempt to overtake the throne. Most of the news shows and sports shows have already broadcast their meticulously edited "Best of the Year" montages complete with the funniest moments and tragic moments and a mention and maybe a video clip or two honoring those who passed away.
It's 2011. It's a new year and that means that at some point in the last few weeks everyone-everyone-has reflected on the year that has passed.
I'm no different than anybody else in that sense and I have done my reflecting.
There are plenty of websites touting the Top Stories of 2010 and I'm sure there are varied opinions. What was the biggest story? Oil pouring into the Gulf?
I do know that we sank a little lower this past year in regards to what it is laughingly called reality television. I think there is actually now a show on about ice sculptors. I predict there will be a backlash in the next year or two against this silliness (reality tv and not ice sculpture). Otherwise, if we don't pull ourselves out of this tailspin, we are going to find ourselves watching Richard Dawson hosting a little something called The Running Man.
Enough about that. That's another ball of wax completely. I will say this though. "DIE JERSEY SHORE! DIE!!"
I have been in a bubble this past year and a half and most of the year seems like a hazy blur.
Someone might say I was a little 'self-absorbed' in 2010 and that's okay. I have been preoccupied with myself what is going on inside my body.
I feel as if I have aged 10 years in the eighteen months and 2010 seemed to crawl by as I awaited news and relief regarding my medical condition.
Yeah. I said it. Big surprise right?
The runner up for my biggest story of 2010 is the story of this little kernel of mystery inside my spinal cord at the base of my skull.
I spent a lot of 2010 in waiting rooms and squeezed into the confines of MRI imagers (so many times in fact that I can now bake a potato by just holding it in my hands-you should what I can do with a pot roast!) and worrying that the little cotton gown I was wearing was long enough to cover my ass.
2010 was all about covering my ass though and I learned the lesson all too well that if you don't have insurance in this country you're screwed and in order to get anything done you have to be your own advocate. YOU HAVE TO BE! And you have to be polite and kiss a little ass until it is time to not be nice and polite. Sometimes the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.
Sometimes the wheel, squeaky or not, has to rub over someone, again and again, grinding rubber onto thick and narrow minds, to get noticed.
I spent entirely too much of 2010 in parking decks of hospitals, circling like a shark, looking for parking spaces and cursing the idiots who took up too many spaces by parking their SUV's across the bright yellow lines.
I gave too much blood in 2010 and waited patiently, at first, while my body adjusted and then readjusted to all the medications I was being given.
2010 was the year in which I learned that a lot of doctors are just people with some exceptional medical techniques and very poor people skills.
I didn't punch any doctors in 2010 but I sure wanted to.
I wish I could say something profound about the biggest lesson I learned in 2010. I wish I could say something that might inspire people to face their own demons-their own pain-with a new strength and courage-but my views on pain aren't brave or strong.
Pain sucks and you do get to a point where you would make a deal with the Devil if he would take it away. Pain ages you and drags you into depression. Pain is a four hundred pound gorilla.
Pain and I went toe-to-toe this past year. And although it kicked my ass and took my lunch money almost every day, I'm still here. I look like I've been dragged behind a truck, but I'm still here shaking my fist, kicking and screaming.
Sure I took my medicines and watched as one day slipped into another, sometimes three days at a time but I always stayed on course. There was a bigger picture and no matter how hard that damn gorilla punched, and no matter how my knees buckled and my vision blurred, I stayed focused and firm.
I'm not better. I'm the same-if not worse-than I was over eighteen months ago. Through sheer stubbornness I refuse to give give up. Because my biggest story of 2010 is that I got engaged in October to a woman who makes my heart sing.
Love is a great motivator.
And it reminds me that I am not defined by some annoying tumor in my spinal column or migraines and neck pain. I am a person with a great deal to offer and who has yet to meet my maximum potential. More importantly, I am person who is loved and I have friends who can raise me up and enable me to walk through the fire if needed. And believe me, if someone told me that walking through fire would fix me, I would take off my socks and shoes and moonwalk across the coals.
No. Sorry Magilla. I'm far from done. In fact, I'm just starting.
%$#@ the mass at the base of my skull and %$#@ the doctors who say I'm just going to have to live with it. No sir, not me. Not this guy.
I'm going to design, manufacture a t-shirt for people in my shoes to wear to their doctor's office. It's will be a black t-shirt with white letters that say "I'm sorry. That doesn't work for me."
And speaking of the medical field, I will also design and market a hospital gown for men. You know. One that doesn't look like it was made to be worn at a six year old girl's slumber party. Maybe it will be made of denim and have fire engines on it. I don't know. It's still in the planning stages.
I'm going to keep writing.
I look at 2011 as a blank canvas that I am going to throw paint at and scratch into with bare hands and, dragging my fingers into the wet paint, and create-or reveal-whatever I want to.
You want to see a forty-five year old guy kick a 400 pound gorilla's ass?
Stick around.

And that's Jody with a "y"
All Rights Reserved