This past Sunday afternoon Chris decided to go for a run, while I decided to do some yoga (nowhere near fit enough to do both in one day…one must choose). We happened to forget that on Sundays the front door to our apartment building is locked, so we have to use a key to get in. Since Chris forgot his, he simply buzzed – no biggie. Thing is, our buzzer is très forte, and I was in Marichyasana C:
The end result was that I kinda jumped – a teensy little jump – and about 24 hours later I was virtually immobile. I’d thrown out my back, and it took the whole night and most of the following day to figure it out, but when it hit me, I knew what had happened. The pain was awful – from the bottom of my left thigh right up into my neck. Perhaps most annoyingly, I absolutely could not make it to my French class, which is, as I’ve mentioned previously, obligatoire. So I had to get a doctor’s note. But there was no point, really, in going to a doctor, because they would just refer me to an osteopath. So we skipped ahead and went straight there.
Osteopathy has forever amazed me. In England a friend was studying to become an osteopath – that was the first I’d heard of it. Later, after literally years of suffering the pain caused by a severe injury (triple compound fracture to my right tibia and fibula) and three subsequent surgeries, Chris’ mom insisted I see a specialist, who sent me to my first osteopath appointment. 45 minutes in his office, a pull here, a push there – a completely painless ordeal – and within 2 hours I was walking lighter than I had for 3 years. Mind you, I’d been to general practitioners, chiropodists and podiatrists. I’d been told I was flat-footed, that I had plantar fasciitus. I’d been given exercises and told what kind of shoes I could and couldn’t wear. But after 45 minutes in that man’s office, I no longer limped. And that was that. My ankle gets a bit fatigued from time to time, but the pain’s gone.
My appointment this time was similar – I’ve thrown out my back like this a number of times, although this was by far the worst. Still, it usually takes a couple of weeks to sort itself out, and yet here I am, a little more than two days since my appointment, and nearly right as rain. Osteopathy was apparently invented by a guy called Andrew Still (which happens to be the name of a dear friend of mine in Oregon who, alongside his amazing and incredible life partner, Sarah Kleeger, cultivates and sells delectable produce and – more importantly – rare and diverse seeds. Not sure if he was named after the good doctor…I should ask). Apparently Dr. Still was also an abolitionist, an inventor, and co-founder of the first 4-year university in my folks’ home state. He defined Osteopathy thus:
…that science which consists of such exact, exhaustive, and verifiable knowledge of the structure and function of the human mechanism, anatomical, physiological and psychological, including the chemistry and physics of its known elements, as has made discoverable certain organic laws and remedial resources, within the body itself, by which nature under the scientific treatment peculiar to osteopathic practice, apart from all ordinary methods of extraneous, artificial, or medicinal stimulation, and in harmonious accord with its own mechanical principles, molecular activities, and metabolic processes, may recover from displacements, disorganizations, derangements, and consequent disease, and regained its normal equilibrium of form and function in health and strength.
If that made your brain hurt a little, my sincerest empathy and apologies. I had to read it a few times, personally. His point, I think, is that the human body is pretty stinking amazing, and so long as we look after it properly and treat it the way it’s meant to be treated, it should work pretty well until we’re about ready to cross over into the great beyond. Of course, this was the late 19th Century, so he didn’t have to contend with some of the external issues we have today, like pollution, sedentary lifestyles, diets overtly comprised of processed foods…not to mention about a million other bits and bobs we accept as part of our quotidian existence. Nevertheless, I have to say, the people I know who prioritize their health are…well, healthier than the ones who don’t. So maybe he was onto something.
So I suffered an injury, missed a class, and – this is for you, accountability partner: I did indeed fall behind pretty tragically on my to-do list, but I also read an incredible book, and finally feel like I have a half-way decent grasp on the Nigerian-Biafran War, an even greater respect for the scientific magic of Osteopathy, and the pleasure that always comes with knowing that my meat puppet is capable of getting better…I love that bit. So all was not lost.
P.S.: Thank you, Wikipedia. I have no idea where I’d be in this life without you.