….Do it well. 

As a general rule, this principle is what we try to teach our children.  Sometimes, though, I may take it a little too far.   In the last few years of mommy-hood, I think I officially fell apart.  Now, I am working to get myself back into shape, one body part at a time.  As I discovered today, though, I apparently went all out during this falling-apart time!

First, there was the dentist, who I haven’t really seen on a regular basis for years.  I went a year ago, but before that, it had been about 3 years.  My tooth sensitivity and increasing TMJ-related jaw pain finally drove me to go in.  Turns out I must be under some stress (I can’t imagine why?!), as I have developed a teeth clenching problem that is causing all my symptoms.  I have sense caught myself clenching when I am nervous, frustrated, or experiencing one of those “Go to your room while I count to 10” child-rearing moments.  No cavities, thankfully, but I have had to order a custom bite guard to wear to protect my teeth from cracking and splitting under the pressure until the stress can be reduced.  I’m thinking that it could be a few years with so many stressful, young child phases to grow out of!

Worse, however, is that for many years, I have suffered back and sciatic nerve problems.  It started when I was in high school, carrying a heavy back pack on one shoulder, and progressed with my numerous falls off horses.  I never thought much of it, and actually got the pain under control with routine chiropractic care when I was a teen.  After I got married, though, for some reason, it suddenly got worse.  I got a massage on my wedding day, and it was one of the most painful experiences I ever had.  For years, people who have laid a hand on my upper back for any reason have commented that I was “hard as a rock,” “had a massive knot,” or “must be under a lot of stress.”  I was so hypersensitive to touch, however, that even though S would often walk up and attempt to massage my shoulders, it was just too painful.  I saw chiropractors off and on over the years, but they all blamed it on “the joy of being a mommy with a baby on the hip,” and other than the occasional (as in once every 2-3 year) visit, I just took their word for it.  I was also aware that so many years riding–and falling from–horses likely took its toll, and as long as I could manage without painkillers, I figured I was OK.  I learned to do some stretches that specifically targeted my back, which also helped keep me loose enough to get by. 

Since R has hit the toddler age, my back really took a turn for the worse.  My sciatica would randomly flare up, making it nearly impossible to walk throughout the day.  Carrying her on one hip (she is in a clingy phase), meant I was always cocked one way or another.  I also had MANY other frustrating and inconvenient symptoms, which past docs and even chiropractors have led me to believe were just how my body was.  Then my lower back started spasming, again, and the stretches weren’t controlling it anymore.  My sleep began to suffer–and you all know how desperately I need my sleep!!  It just wasn’t a good thing.  I didn’t want to turn to pain pills, though, as I remembered what one of my early chiropractors had told me.  “Pain is NOT normal.  Rather, it is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, and you need to figure out what.”  So I decided to go see A’s naturopath/chiropractic doctor.  After my initial eval, he said, “You have an old injury.  I can’t tell you what or where exactly, but your body is protecting something, which is causing all the issues you have.  You need to get x-rays.”  I didn’t really see the point, as I could only remember one significant injury about 7 years ago.  I slipped and fell–hard–on my hiney onto the corner of a pallet while helping S at the barn one day.  I remember being black and blue and stiff for a few days, but other than a few good horse falls that left me temporarily sore, that was pretty much it.  He convinced me though, and I went and had the full torso x-rays done today.  Let’s just say the money spent ranks up there with some of the best investments we’ve made!!

I know how to read a simple x-ray.  I’ve seen many over the years.  As soon as he hung the picture up, I saw my spine was obviously not right, and a when I looked down lower, WOW!  Apparently in that slip onto the pallet years ago, my tailbone was broken in two places!!  I had no idea!  I’m not talking fractured either.  I’m talking broken at 45* angles and curling into the surrounding tissues.  It totally explained why I can’t sit for long periods of time on hard surfaces.  The impact had also shoved and twisted my sacrum (the large bone between the vertebrae and tailbone that joins the sides of the pelvis) all out of whack, which was very clearly responsible for all the spasms, sciatica, and lower back pain, as well as many of the other inconvenient issues I had been dealing with for years.  In the event you actually care, or just care to humor my injury brag moment, the next photo is part of my x-ray.  The real x-ray is far more clear than this scanned image.  Nonetheless, the yellow line to the right shows roughly the shape of the normal sacrum and tailbone, while the red line shows the 2 areas where mine are broken.  Nice, huh?

What I didn’t notice until he pointed it out, was that my right shoulder was seperated at some point (most likely a hard landing after an unexpected flight off a horse’s back), which had also shoved one of the vertebrae in my upper back toward the left side.  The x-ray was too big for the entire picture to scan onto my computer, but the following gives you an idea.  I drew a light yellow line between the clavicle and scapula.  You can see the one on the left is much shorter than the one on the right side (which seperated).  The faded lines going across top and bottom center of the photo show how the vertebrae should be parallel to each other, but the line in the middle shows how my seperated clavicle wrenched the middle vertebrae out of place. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the side shot of my torso (not pictured) showed my neck vertebrae (which were clearly angled opposite the normal curve of the spine) showed clear signs of several good whiplash episodes.  Again, I can only assume it happened years ago, during my early horse days, before I knew anything about safety.  The whiplash, shoulder injury, and tailbone/sacrum injury had all combined to throw out the rest of my spine, which literally means my body tissues and nerves are always inflamed, in turn causing my almost constant discomfort and pain. 

The good news is, apparently it’s all fixable.  He said I didn’t need to worry about the tailbone, but the sacrum was our starting point.  For the last 7 years, my pelvis had literally been tilted in the wrong direction.  He adjusted that, and I instantly felt a difference.  Instead of the constant spasms and nerve pain in my lower back, I felt only slight twinges that I can only describe as mucle “confusion.”  It was almost like they were twitching, not uncomfortably, but like they didn’t know how to act without being tense.  He then made a minor adjustment to my upper back, which immediately relieved some of the neck pain I have dealt with, and between the two, my entire center of gravity was different.  I felt very different, but far more even and balanced.  I still feel different, and I still have some tight, uncomfortable areas that obviously need some work, but fearing he would throw my balance totally off, or make me a bit sore with too much at once, he started with those two areas.  I actually brought the x-rays home to show S.  That’ll teach him to tell me to “Toughen up!” (His infamous response when a member of the family receives a seemingly minor injury.) In fact, I’m rather proud to know that I actually had injuries significant enough to cause all this pain, and I never turned to pain killers.  I may not be such a “city girl” after all! 

If you ever come around the Colorado Springs area, I highly recommend this guy!!  (And if you are near Chicago, he has a buddy he highly recommends there.)  He has worked miracles with A, and finally gotten to the root of my back problems.  I get to go back on Friday for further adjustment, and I am really looking forward to it!  I am looking foreward to days free of the discomfort and pain I have dealt with for so many years, and to nights that actually contain good sleep.  I am even hoping for more mornings where I might actually wake up feeling refreshed.   Oh, those will be good days indeed!!