- August 9th, 2015
So in the spring of 2014, I began to notice a slight pain in my left shoulder, just beneath my scapula (the shoulder blade). I ignored it for a while, thinking perhaps I had just strained my shoulder. As time went on, however, the pain did not go away and worsened somewhat so that it extended down my shoulder, into my upper arm, behind my elbow, down the forearm, and into the first three fingers—thumb, index, and middle finger—of my left hand. It was clear to me that the nerves were being affected though I did not know why. It got to the point where I would do the bare minimum of what I had to do and no more. I became irritable because I was not sleeping well. I tried everything to lessen the discomfort—ibuprofen, heat, ice, etc. Still, the pain persisted and as time went on, it kept getting worse and worse until it was simply chronic pain, going between uncomfortable to not quite but quickly approaching agony. I felt terrible.
I also didn’t say too much about it because I am not one to complain. When I don’t feel well, I just want to be left alone until I feel better. Nor did I go to the doctor, not because I don’t approve of doctors necessarily; I am just one who would prefer to wait until I am almost dead before I go. It’s such a hassle. In theory, I strongly approve of preventive medicine, but in practice, I have to be pretty bad off before I go to a doctor. I just have this idea that if the body can make itself better, given enough time, it will with most things. I suppose I get this from my father, who himself did not actually have to take any sort of maintenance medications for chronic conditions until he was 70 years old, and he resented it. He still resents it, but he takes out his resentment on the medical personnel who have to deal with him. Like him, I have enjoyed good physical and mental health all my life, and hated to admit to myself there was actually something wrong with me.
Finally, after nearly a year of putting up with this, I finally out of desperation just dropped into a chiropractor’s office one day last January. I figured my regular doctor would just want to put me on pain medications that would turn me into a junkie or refer me to some surgeon who would cut on my precious, decrepit body.
This is where I met, I shall call him, Dr. Smith (not his real name). After talking to me about how I was feeling and all that, he said he wanted to take an x-ray of my spine. I agreed, and made an appointment to return two days later. Dr. Smith came into the room with two sets of x-rays, one showing a normal spine and one showing mine. Apparently, a normal spine exits the skull with a graceful curve, like this ( Mine looked rather like this \ .
“How in the sam hill did that happen?” I asked. Of course, he couldn’t know if it were one event that precipitated this mess or just a gradual accumulation of things. The loss of curve had caused one of my ribs to shift downward and that was pressing on a bundle of nerves in my shoulder. Over time, that rib pressed down further, causing the pain down my arm and into my hand. Dr. Smith said he thought he could help me, and we set up a three times a week treatment plan.
Now came the hard part. I had to tell Malkhos.
This wasn’t going to be hard because Malkhos would prevent my going; he would never do anything like that. It was what I knew I was going to have to listen to about it.
“So I decided I am going to see a chiropractor about this pain I’m in,” I told him.
“A what?!” His brow started furrowing. The older he’s gotten, the greater the furrow, and based on that furrow I could tell he was in sheer disbelief at my impulsive decision. Any minute now he would be flapping his hands at me, another of his habits that betrays his annoyance and disbelief.
“You heard me,” I said.
“Have you lost your mind?” he said. “They are not doctors! He could kill you with his quackery.”
“He is not either going to kill me,” I said.
“There is no such thing as a subluxation; you might as well get yourself cleared of thetans by an e-meter,” Malkos said, and I knew I was in for a lecture I was just going to have to listen to patiently. I just let it pass that I didn’t even know what a thetan or e-meter was. “It’s a Victorian ps.-science like Mormonism. They claim that everything science knows about the body is wrong. That vaccines don’t work. That antibiotics don’t work. Do you really think no one would have noticed that? You might as well go to a witch doctor.”
“Okay,” I said. “I like him. I am already fully vaccinated and I don’t need antibiotics. If he kills me, you can sue him.”
But the good chiropractor hasn’t killed me, and as I went for my appointments, I grew to like him more and more. He has a quiet, gentle demeanor and tolerates my strange sense of humor and direct manner very well. We talk about all kinds of things and it’s a pleasant experience. We talked about our travels, hiking and biking, origami, and gardening. He told me when he got married that he made one thousand crane origami. I thought this was amazing and wonderful in its exoticness. Moreover, within two weeks of going, I thought I was feeling better, and within four weeks, my pain was greatly diminished. Malkhos didn’t want to hear it.
“Regression to the mean,” he pronounced. “You got better on your own, but because it happened after you saw this quack, you thought he had something to do with it. Almost all conditions like yours resolve on their own.”
“Fooey,” I said. “By the way, did I ever tell you I noticed he sort of looked exotic around the eyes? So I asked him if he were of far eastern descent, and he told me he his half-Japanese. He made one thousand crane origami for his wedding, for good luck. Isn’t that beautiful? I have the protection of a ninja witch doctor. He’s amazing.”
“You don’t tell me anything about what goes on there,” Malkhos said.
“Because you said he would kill me, but I knew better. I told him I have the protection of a ninja.”
“You told him that?” asked Malkhos.
“Naturally,” I said. “Although I also offered him the option of being a samurai if he preferred, but he said ninja was fine.”
“Now he’s cast a spell on you,” said Malkhos. “He’s got you thinking he has magical powers. Has he told you he can fly?”
“Not yet,” I said. “But if he did, I might believe him. He’s adorable. My ninja witch doctor.”
And the truth is, here it is, August, and I have no more pain. None. It was like it was never even there. That’s some damn good ninja witchcraft, I tell you.