June 22, 2007

First Person


By Al Carlos Hernandez

I injured my shoulder playing basketball with my sons and their homies. Despite the real threat of injury we obstinately persevered, all the while informed by a library of “don’t do it’s” from my wife, and lucid others from my demographic to be careful.

Our Sunday afternoon hubris filled, smack talking fueled, and three on three’s hoop wars, ended for me, when the ball crushed two fingers, causing them to blow up like polish sausages, involuntarily tossing up a cartoonist balloon puppet peace sign, impossible to conceal. The shoulder more painfully severe didn’t become an issue until my wife moved the shoulder in the middle of the night and I screamed like a rabid hyena setting off a few car alarms and possibly opening a few garage doors.

We agreed that I had a pinched nerve. So we scheduled a visit with her chiropractor with whom she was well pleased - having helped her get instant relief from many painful situations, none of which were of a domestic nature.

Mi Vida didn’t want to sleep with ear plugs and was afraid she would have to sucker punch me if I did that howling wolf thing again.

Chiropractic services is big business; the huge office is filled with information on how the spine works, why adjustments were necessary, and how getting twisted can cure most ailments. I felt the propaganda was redundant; they were preaching to the choir, if folks were already on site, postured to be put into a full nelson. I was comforted by the conspicuous absence of turn buckles.

Dispassionate, I filled out some forms, watched a video, explained how stupid I was for getting injured in the first place, then, quoting from the video, apologized for not getting hurt sooner because I’ve never been to a chiropractor before, ergo spent my entire life maladjusted.

Once the glad-handing was out of the way, the first question to the young hip handsome doctor was, what kind of car do you drive? If and since chiropractic servcies are not a traditional HMO based type medical service, I didn’t want someone working on me who could only afford to drive a Kia or Hyundai. Dr. S Class 600 Mercedes reassured me, then closed the deal by saying he rode a VFR Honda race bike, from time to time to work.

I was dismissed to another room where I had to put on a “tie in the back” gown, which I couldn’t, for a full body X-Ray. The technician, a hip urbanite, made me walk across the hall in my boxers and gown into the glum dark room. I was directed to put on some huge Adam ant looking, Erkel glasses, stand at attention in front of a white plastic wall, with a lead fanny pack thing over your, your, valuables…

He then handed me a wooden pole turning me sideways, holding the pole like I was churning butter. It occurred to me that if I was being “Punked”, standing there with the geek glasses, holding the stick, in the gown- I would pay up to ten thousand dollars to get those pictures back!

The first thing the next morning, I was back on site and we looked at the x- rays. Am I the only one who thinks it’s funny that skeletons are always smiling? I could see the recent dental fillings from Dr. Play date.

Neck bones of a 21 year old, spine of a thirty something, no arthritis, one lower back disc misaligned. A body like this should be able to dance. The shoulder thing which felt like a hot needle stuck into the joint while dancing a cumbia was a soft tissue injury. Time to get crack in’.

Laid on my back he massaged the neck, told me he was going to release some pressure. With that, he whipped my head to the side, the crack in THX Dolby, sounded like an elephant sat on a crate of walnuts. In a visceral response I yelled something in Spanish, and then remembered that Doctor Benzo, fluent in Spanish spent a few years helping folks in El Salvador. The phrase was a favorite of his while playing tennis. In a series of snap shot moments he had me in a head lock, full nelson, half nelson, and at one point he looked like Ricky Nelson.

Dazed and confused feeling big headed and like a hung over circus acrobat, I was dismissed to get an MRI. Chiropractors can only do so much, when a muscle is torn, or when middle-age biker husbands don’t listen to their wives.

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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