Beth is a physiotherapist. She’s probably 40, maybe a little younger, small in stature, but really strong. She says I’m twisted, an observation she made within the first 5 min of my appointment/consultation. I suspect this is more the result of training than intuition. My back has been tight since I was in a snowmobile accident as a kid (about 8). Among my other self-care-and-repair steps I’m taking lately, this is the year that I gain freedom from the Ski-Whiz Pinch.
I used to enjoy snowmobiling with my dad. He loved his machines. Dad was a bit sadistic with us kids by times, though, and I think he got too much pleasure from scaring us by running close to open water on streams or by pulling six of us on a 10′ birch toboggan around sharp corners in open fields of close-cropped corn. We’d slide sideways, screaming, covered with flying ice and snow, and be shaken to bits or rolled by heaving clumps of frozen red soil. Miraculously, nobody died and it made for good deep sleeps once the hot tingle came out of the nose and toes later by the wood stove. I still instinctively breathe deeply when I catch a whiff of oil-gas mix exhaust. Bring it.
One night Dad took me out after dark for a ride. I was tucked in front of him behind the windshield, Dad’s arms reaching across my shoulders on either side for gas and brake. We were cutting close to the tree-line along the field edge where the snow was caught in drifts by the woods. This was way more fun than at mid-field, of course, because of the up and down and airtime between drifts. I remember the blast of snow in the headlamp as we came down the powdery backside before climbing again. But one drift was cut beyond sight by a plow. All I remember was flying off the top of that high bluff seeing the road scream up from straight down below.
Dad’s weight slammed into the back of me, my face into the steering column, and that was that. I woke up in someone’s house with a fat lip.
I don’t remember seeing a doctor, or a big fuss being made. But a couple of years ago as I struggled to sit upright, cross-legged in yoga, the instructor asked if I had ever been in a car accident. Well, no. But…
I’ve always had a tightness and soreness in my middle back, but I just thought I had to live with it, as if that’s just who I am. That is ridiculous. A massage therapist noticed it in the months after Angus died (2000), saying that everyone has a spot on the body where they store their anger – and that was mine. Again, the wrong message: This is just your life. Deal. What I’m learning lately is that stuff like this doesn’t have to be tolerated. It can be fixed. And over the past year as I’ve tackled bigger problems like addiction and early traumas and am being more open about who I really am, Suzy has noticed a dark patch on my back at the achy spot. I had it checked; it’s odd but not serious. Suzy says it’s my evil inner child just scratching to get out. Maybe.
Beth sees twisted differently. I have a treatable 38-year-old injury that can be repaired in just a month with bi-weekly visits and some new habits. Incredibly, I may also gain up to an inch in height as my vertebrea come unstuck. Great! New pants!
The message here, if you’ve read this far (thank you), is that no injury (of any kind) need go unhealed. Really. And anyone who tells you that you just have to put up with shit and suffer on is full of it.
So I’m spending a lot of time on the floor lately, knees pulled to one side, bending my back. I like to listen as the spine creaks and opens and cracks. And twice a week Beth sticks 18 needles in the muscles that have been tight since Ski-Whiz. They fight and scream and flex violently. They don’t seem to want to let go, but I do. I want 5’9″ for the first time.