Thursday, August 30, 2007

Acupuncture and the Reality Check From the Back End


A month ago I hurt my back, putting my twenty-month old down. One irregular move and I fell like old timber to the ground. As agonizing as the pain was, even more horrific was the 14 guests that were due to arrive for dinner in six hours. I had to get better. I picked up the phone and called my local chiropractor. I had seen him before while I was pregnant and stopped after my symptoms ceased, the baby was born, and I got fed up being lectured on the importance of proper chiropractic long term care (at every visit). But at this moment, he was my last hope. I called and begged to be seen on a Saturday afternoon, mid summer, and as it turns out - just as he was planning on leaving for an extended vacation with his family. Asking him to drop his packing to help me was a perfect opportunity for him to tell me exactly what I expected,

" You know, had you listened to me before, you would not be in this situation."

I swore up and down that this time will be different, I saw the light, he was right all along. I felt like a philandering lover pleading to be taken back. He decided to take me back and within an hour I was once again face down getting adjusted. One adjustment to my neck, two adjustments to my back, one cold laser treatment to my lower back and I was ready to make it out the front door. I iced my way through the rest of the day and survived my guests, with the help with three vodka cocktails. But as days wore on, my back did not seem to recover. I began to feel like a wounded animal. Something felt “broken.”

On a call with a business colleague (who is in the holistic field), I mentioned that I think I did a real “number” on my back.

“Where on your back exactly” she asked.
“Lower back, all the way at the bottom, the coccyx area I think” I answered.
“You must be carrying around too much responsibility in your life…are you?” she inquired.

Am I carrying too much in my life? I never thought about it before. I thought my life was “very full.” I was launching a business, going to school, raising two kids, and helping run my household (with thankfully a very involved partner). But then on the other hand, I am an “abundance junky.” It is hard to imagine what “too much” would even look like.

“I don’t know. I like having a lot to carry” I answered.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“I think you need to ask your back on what the problem is. I mean actually talk to your back – the source of the problem will come to you.” She concluded.

This type of suggestion of talking to my back is fairly typical stuff in the world of alternative healing – and yet, hearing that somehow amused me. But no sooner than one hour and two major back spasms later - I was in the shower talking to my back. Although I got no response from my back, or any other part of my anatomy for that matter, I did realize that I was very tired, as was my back and my head that felt like a bowling ball suspended on my shoulders. I felt spiritually and mentally congested. And although I was hesitant to believe that my back spoke back to me, I did somehow realize that what my back (and the rest of me) needed was Yoga, and a heavy dose of acupuncture.

The following two weeks my life revolved around “yoga highs” and “acu highs.” Between my moments of euphoria, I found myself feeling better, stronger and freer – in my head and in my lower back. It was as if the more flexibility I developed in my overstrained lower back, the more flexibility I had in my mind. Talk about an exercise in holistic wellness. Days passed and I found myself pain free. But more amazing than that was that I slept better, had less stress, smiled more and even had improved digestion. I also realized that I felt profoundly different than I had in ages. The answer stared straight at me: I neglected myself for over a year. I was so busy outputting to support my “abundant life” that I forgot that I needed to input anything back into it. I was so busy creating, that I left no time for nourishing and replenishing. My back issue was not so much about just the load that became my life, but more about the fact that I did nothing to replenish the structure it took to support it. The reality also became clear that I only had so much time to replenish, and that in order to function optimally, I also had to make sure that the load I carried was in line with that. You need to be sure you have “the right foundation to support your house

It has now been a month, and I feel great. A lot of people don’t believe me that I actually got away with no meds. I saw several MD’s and had X-Ray’s, and there was no definitive diagnosis (herniated disk, inflamed joint issues, there were several options). I still need physical therapy probably, and I will pursue that next. But for now, I feel more than good enough, I actually feel great. Somehow between dialoging with my spine, some regularly healing movement, and some acu work I managed to get back to not only being functional but also actually more healthy, aware, and honest about the state of affairs in my life. I am not sure if my back ever actually spoke to me or not – but the experience of it spoke volumes.

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