I’ve had a stiff left hip that clicks every time I get up from my chair. But today, for the first time in weeks, I’m feeling okay about it. Even good. Like the first day after being sick when you wake up and realize something’s different. The fog has lifted. You’re happy to be alive.
The idea that I’m “feeling good” is a pretty big deal. And I’m surprised I’m admitting it aloud. Surly now I will be cast down. Pain has become my fate, my crutch.
My hips have been “out of alignment” for months. When the pain first came it took me totally by surprise. Up until that point I considered myself a runner, an athlete, an unstoppable exercising machine. I didn’t have physical needs—I didn’t even need a car. I had my bicycle and my legs to take me where I wanted to go. But there lies the culprit. I ran my muscles raw, overuse to the state of loss. My body flipped out. We can’t take it anymore, my bones and ligaments cried.
I think about how my friend Anna, a psychic by trade, would probably say that this problem, this dysfunction, has to do with being stuck in my indecision, unable to move forward to the next step in life. Once I decide I will be balanced again. I can take a step without the click.
This may be partly true, but I think it also has to do with not having a good enough doctor. Including chiropractors, podiatrists, sports medicine men, physical therapists, masseuses, acupuncturists, I’ve seen about 100 people. Okay, I’ve seen like ten. But shit.
So last week I got a new doctor. A young, curly-haired boy from Jersey, yesterday on my third visit at $150 a session, I was starting to get pissed.
“I just feel like it’s not getting better,” I said. “It hurts all the time.”
“Uh-huh.” He avoided my eyes and lifted my leg in his hands and pushed my knee against my chest. “How’s that feel?”
I couldn’t say. He wasn’t listening. “I feel it here,” I said, pointing to the front of my hip.
“Huh.” He seemed surprised.
Is something wrong, I think. Of course there is.
He straightened out my leg and pushed his thumb hard into my left interior hip flexor, right on the underwear line. He looked me in the eyes, and pushed harder. My eyes grew. “How’s that?” he asked. I breathed in sharply and hissed out—“Painful.”
I told myself I’d ask him all my questions—tell him how I feel. How I wake up sometimes and don’t want to get out of bed. How I sat in my car earlier that day and cried my eyes out. What is wrong with me. Why do I hurt all the time. I’ve been mentioning suicide. So is this life, then? I’d rather be dead. I think I’m scaring my mother.
“I know I’ve only seen you three times,” I say. I’m sitting on an exercise ball and lifting one knee and one arm at a time. Marching in place. “But it’s been almost nine months since this started. And it was the other side,” I say, my voice rising. He’s not even looking at me. He’s massaging the woman on my table to my left. I stare at myself in the mirror and see a small hole in the crotch of my running pants. “It’s not you that I’m frustrated with,” I continue. He nods his head. “I’m frustrated with my body.”
The woman on the table groans.
The next morning I woke up and knocked on wood. This is the road to recovery.