Monday, November 28, 2016
Show Some Backbone - Monday
‘Oooh, dear. What happened to you?’ Asks my chiropractor, with an unwelcome chuckle. A tsunami of sarcasm isn’t best directed at someone who will have you bent double in your underpants shortly, so I just grimace and remind him I wouldn’t have booked an emergency appointment at £45 a pop, without a whole lot of agony.
I hobble awkwardly in to the waiting area, where two other people are slumped in the leather armchairs. Clearly hypochondriacs. I shuffle straight to the upright chair and lower myself gingerly to the squab. I look like one of those losers who ship up at A and E of a weekend, with a foreign objet wedged up their nether regions. Only I didn’t fall on to the vacuum cleaner nozzle while doing the housework naked - at least not this time…
‘What happened?’ Asks the chiropractor wearily, once I’m in the treatment room and down to my underwear. Socks still on. There’s no way they are coming off until he straightens my spine. It took my wife several goes to put them on me and she’s usually telling me to take them off when I’m on the bed.
‘I just woke up like this.’ I tell him pathetically. If he asks if I jumped amorously off the wardrobe the previous evening, I’ll take my business elsewhere - at least when I’m able to walk without resembling Notre Dame’s most famous bellringer.
‘Try and bend forward to touch your toes.’ Suggests the man softly.
He might as well ask me to levitate and do a trick with stale loaves and fish leftovers.
‘My, that is tight.’ Says the bone-bender. No shit Sherlock. ‘You’ve got yourself in a bit of a pickle haven’t you?’ He continues, as I resist the urge to verbally flay him with derision.
‘Now just try and relax.’ Says the man as I lie face down and he tugs at the waistband of my underpants. If anything I tense even more, and that’s before he really shafts me with a bill most high-class hookers would baulk at on a cost per minute, while bent over making animalistic sounds.
‘This is going to take several sessions.’ Suggests the chiro, as the treatment table rises with a soft swishing. Now why am I not surprised? I’ve known for years that alternative treatment practitioners in the private sector have a vested interest in stringing out your treatment for several return visits. They need repeat business. The polar opposite of my experience with NHS staff.
I still recall, with bitterness, the clueless NHS physiotherapists my GP sent me to see after several bouts of back trouble. Bored-looking middle aged women, with cheaply photocopied handouts I could have obtained on the internet, spent most of the sessions filling out my medical history on their laptops. They never once touched my lap, or asked me to take my top off.
After several pointless sessions they were just eager to sign me off their caseload, with less hands on than a children's rugby game. One did refer me to a pensioners’ pilates class. It’s a sign of how desperate I was to break the pain/spasm/pain cycle that I attended. Some memories you wish you could erase forever. My mother disorientated in the old people’s home, father in a hospital bed, mute and terrified post-stroke - and a cobwebby crotch in a gaudy-coloured leisure suit, three foot from my face. ‘You might want to move up the mat a little Mabel, you’re a bit near that gentleman’s head.’
‘How’s the housing market?’ Asks the chiropractor, as he instructs me to roll on to my side and to clutch my opposite shoulder. Does he really want to know? Or is it just distracting small talk to fool me into relaxing, before he tries to get several vertebrae to audibly explode, like popcorn in a microwave.
I sometimes wish I could keep my identity secret from the pain-givers, but this guy, my dentist and my bank manger all know what I do. I give him a property platitude.
‘Deep breath in.’ He instructs, as my buttocks clench. ‘ A little discomfort coming.’
As I’ve been predicting.
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