Pain in the neck

My yoga instructor has been a physiotherapist and yoga guru for 25 years. After class last night she also became my new hero. “I have two words for you: Whip lash.” (It’s actually just one word, and don’t look it up on Google at work unless you want to download lots of links to bondage sites.)

I’ve had chronic pain between my shoulder blades for as long as I can remember — a burning tightness that gets so bad sometimes it feels like a hot metal pipe pierces my back and comes out just right of my heart. For the past 15 years or so I’ve thought this feeling was stress-induced. It does get much worse when I’m tense, and then a circle of pain/tension escalates until I have to lie on a hardwood floor.

Three years of regular chats with Hammy, my shrink, helped me peel the chip off my shoulder. But the biggest disappointment was how exorcising demons didn’t help me with the monkey on my middle back.

It turns out, the pain is not from stress, or anxiety, or fear. It’s an injury.

Whiplash is violent forward and backward movement of the head that causes damage to the soft tissue of the neck and back along the spine. I was astonished to learn that pain from whiplash can continue for decades, long after the incident that caused the damage.

“Were you in a car accident?” yoga Catherine asked.

“No, but there was that time I was sitting in front of Dad on the snowmobile when we crashed. I woke up in someone’s house some time later. Or, there was that time I dove off the sandbar and my head hit the bottom. Or .. “

“OK, I get it.”

So now, at nearly 37 years old, I have a handle on the last bit of grinding, grief-inducing suffering in my life. I’m not a freak, just slightly damaged. I can live with that.

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