Where's the Shortcut?
Author: Lee R. Matthis, DC
I have a patient who comes in for her weekly adjustment on Monday mornings. She states that she enjoys starting her week by “undoing” all that she had managed to do over the weekend. She was in the parking lot extra early a week or so ago, and I could tell by her grimace that whatever she had done would need some significant work to “undo.” When she dragged herself out of her car, she had the look that one has right after they have hit their thumb with a hammer, but it hasn't registered in their brain to scream yet.
Apparently, this patient, along with her two sisters had gone out of town for a “girls’ weekend.” Their travels had carried them by car several hours South to Tennessee. While a long car ride is more than enough to exacerbate a case of low back pain, this particular young lady assured me that she took my advice and stopped often to walk around the car and stretch. Upon arrival, she said she was feeling great. Even after countless hours of walking around the malls and shops, her spine had not been a hindrance at all. No, it seemed the culprit of her dilemma was in the drive home.
The driver of the vehicle that weekend was my patient's sister, who swore on the way home that she “knew a shortcut.” Not only would said shortcut allow for the viewing of beautiful spring foliage and bloom, but it would only be about 45 minutes longer than the original, interstate route. Not wanting to upset the apple cart, the passengers agreed to the scenic version of the ride home, since walking was a distant second option!
Roughly two hours later, I'm told, when they should be seeing signs of familiar territory closer to home, it was announced that they were indeed lost! Some quick questioning of a “local” landed them further from their intended destination and closer to another state. Biting the bullet, the crew turned back in the general direction from whence they had come and made their way slowly back to the exit they had originally taken. They were then still two and a half hours from home and many miles the worse for wear. I thought briefly about rolling on the floor and laughing at the hilarity of the situation, but having a job to do and a life to save, I went to work attempting to get some relief, be it only physical, for this distraught soul.
As I reflected back on the story, I was reminded of how this patient made choices prior to ending up in my office and how those shortcuts had landed her “lost” as well. She had opted earlier in her life for a “shortcut” for her back pain, taking numerous amounts of NSAIDS and over-the-counter pain medications, ruining her digestive system and doing little but slightly masking the pain while she continued the actions that started her problems initially.
When the OTC meds were no longer working, she sought relief from her symptoms in prescriptive form. The first “local” she asked for help wrote a script that allowed her some pain relief, but she was unable to perform her job due to being too under-the-influence to function. The next “local” suggested a more invasive option and she succumbed to the surgical route in an attempt to continue her life as before without having the pain. When this route failed too, she had little option but to return to her intended original route: listening to her body, making good nutritional choices, and maintaining proper alignment.
I know she's feeling better now, but I truly hope she has learned the lesson that she taught me: “On the road to health, there are no shortcuts.”