I have always thought that I could tolerate a lot of pain. I enjoyed pushing my body to physical limits, the soreness that would follow a marathon run only reminded me of what I accomplished. I liked it! I was usually in some sort of pain and found it comforting because I was challenging my body. Sometime in 2011 I noticed a pain in my shoulder that was not really related to anything I was doing. It felt like a kink in my shoulder blade that would not go away. So I did what I always do, ignoring it and continuing to push on. I was doing a lot of running and always had problems with by left hamstring and glute so I was used to working through it.
The shoulder pain continued and became more bothersome so I decided to see my doctor who prescribed muscle relaxers. I was happy, I could push harder and not hurt. It did help for a period of time but then the pain seemed to come back even stronger. I returned to the doctor and saw a substitute doctor who prescribed more relaxers. I felt frustrated because it seemed like more should be done, but kept going. The pain would leave for periods only to return again. A year later, I decided I needed to do something different so I went to one of the Chiro One screenings at my gym and they suggested I immediately go to their clinic.
It is at this point that I want to make this statement. I do believe that most people in the field of medicine do want their patients to get better and are only suggesting what they think is best even if it is not the case. It is why my brother reminds me “they are ‘practicing’ medicine.” For this reason I have decided not to give the names of the doctors I saw. I have, however, included the names of the authors I found helpful.
My Chiro One experience is the reason I will always be skeptical of chiropractors.
I show up for my initial examination where I am shown the facility and am able to see the doctor working on patients. Cool! I am then shown into a room where the doctor comes in and we talk about what is going on with me. He does some sort of examination of my back and spine and then tells me that they will do an X-ray of my upper spine. Great, I can finally find out what is happening. Someone who is going to figure it out! I left the office thrilled that this pain would soon be gone.
Two days later, the doctor calls and leaves a message saying that there is something wrong and that I need to come in and to make sure I bring someone with me. I think I might have peed my pants a little with fear. I call and schedule the soonest time that was available.
Waiting for appointment day to arrive is torture, the what if’s and the not knowing are about enough to make a person go mad. If life were fair, we could all go immediately to the doctor’s office with no waiting! Unfortunately fair is not how I would describe life…
My husband and I show up at the clinic the morning of the appointment. Seems somewhat strange in the waiting area as more and more couples seem to arrive for the same appointment time. Then a woman comes into the lobby area and directs us all to a room in the back. Something is definitely up. Then in comes the good doctor (who, on a side note, is wearing those shoes with the individual toes that I can’t stand). He then begins his presentation telling us of all that good that will come by attending the program at Chiro One. I can feel my husbands eyes begin to roll. After the show we are all shown into our own little rooms and told the doctor will see us shortly. I still am curious to know what is wrong with me. Soon I am told, my X-ray is displayed and it is explained to me that the curvature in my neck is bad and that it is causing all my problems but if I pay ahead for the program that will cost $5,000 dollars it can all be fixed. Hooray!
Thus, my mistrust for chiropractors.
Big problem – my shoulder and back still fucking hurt. So I take the picture I had captured on my iPhone of my X-ray and head back to my regular doc who takes a look and says it seems fine but she is not any expert. Her prescription for me: physical therapy. She did not have a recommendation for anyone place/person but thought that I would be fine with anyone/place I picked. I went with one that was close to me and scheduled my first appointment at ATI physical therapy.
I enter physical therapy so enthusiastic: give me exercise. I love to exercise. If exercise is going to fix this, yeehaw I am your woman for the job! I am assigned to a therapist who listens to what I have to say and does his own examination. He tells me that my shoulders are way to far forward and should be back in line with my ears. Hmmm, I never knew this. There could be a pinched nerve? Ok, this does not sound so bad and we get to work. Let’s move those shoulders back! Not sure why this matters but it seems to be a big deal. Over the next few visits he shows me stretches to do and strengthening exercise. I get to spend time on the TENS unit which feels great and I get massages. Yes! Just as I am starting to get a little relief, my therapy is ended. I tell him that I have to go out of town for two weeks for work. He informs me that my insurance won’t cover any more visits if I take a break because the appointments need to be continuous. Well that sucks, but I have to go on this trip.
For a while I am pretty good about doing the exercises and the stretches. The pain seems to go away and then I do what I am notorious for doing. I went back to my old ways. I only run and do no strength training and very little stretching. I paint long hours without breaks. I am training for a marathon that I will do in the spring of 2013, my left leg is bothering me but I think it is from the running. I figure once I am done with this marathon I will go back to physical therapy and they can tell me what is wrong. My shoulder is not bothering me and that is great.
The marathon weekend arrives and I am feeling pretty good. The marathon is in a beautiful location in Napa Valley and my good friend Lynn is running it as well. Our husbands have come along for the trip, and it is also my birthday. Life is great. I am able to complete the marathon in a pretty good time for me, around 4:06. I was hoping to break the 4 hour mark. Chris and I had plans to spend a couple extra days in San Francisco and on our drive there we decided to take the advice of someone we had met at the hotel and stop for a visit of the Where Forest. This was as close to seeing the big Redwood trees as I might ever get. I was looking forward to doing a little walking just to loosen up my legs. What I wasn’t planning on was the 6 hour hike we ended up on because we took a wrong turn somewhere along the path. As we finished the hike my left leg did not feel quite right. But as usual I ignored it and when we arrived in San Francisco, I insisted on walking everywhere, and we easily covered 10-15 miles of hilly San Francisco each day for the next two days.
The reason I tell you this is that I think this is the beginning of a very slippery slope I was about to head down…