first time at the chiropractor

I Went to the Chiropractor

Last year, after much deliberation, an appropriate amount of drama, and just enough neck pain to push me over the edge, I decided to go to the chiropractor for the first time.

My mom and sister had been going for years, forever trying to convince me that you would not in fact die on the table, but I could not be persuaded. Surely there had to be the occasional slip. The slight miscalculation that went from a vertebrae adjustment to a full-on decapitation. Surely an experience that is centered around cracking your bones could not truly be enjoyable.

But alas, they kept going. And miraculously, they kept returning fully mobile, wholly satisfied and, you know, with heads.

So, I decided to give it a try.

If there was ever a benefit of having to wear masks everywhere we go, it was to hide the pure fear I felt as I was walked into the room. The chiropractor—who knew both my mom and my sister—had heard that I was nervous, so she tried her best to put me at ease, but I still sat wondering if this was the end. Wondering if in a few moments she’d pull my arm off or crank my neck so far to one side that I would scream as if I was being exorcised.

What I didn’t expect was that she’d point out something before we even started.

“Let’s talk about your posture,” she said, “It is pretty good in your shoulders but your head is too far forward.”

She demonstrated how my head poked out, most likely from leaning towards a computer screen at work. Oh my gosh, I thought, looking at her, is that what I look like all the time? I look like an upside down golf club. I look like a putter. I am a walking, talking, standing putter. I should be a staff. A skyscraper. A redwood. But I am a putter.

As the chiropractor got to work, feeling the tightness in my neck and shoulders, she explained that they were doing all they could to keep my head up. Poor neck and shoulders, I thought, humanizing them. The little engines that could. Or could barely. They were not being paid enough for this. Not to hold up this brain that was obviously big and heavy and full of boundless knowledge. I can’t even imagine the kind of weight they’d been bearing all this time.

And so, we agreed—me and the chiropractor, me and my neck and shoulders, me and the fear that still whispered that if we were quick we could slip out the door and get a McFlurry instead—we agreed that we’d give this a go. So, we took a deep breath, and then the chiropractor began. She pulled and cracked and pushed and there were a couple of times when I glanced down at my fingers and toes and wiggled them *just in case* and then she told me to sit up. All in all, it is probably the most violent four minutes I’ve ever experienced. But it was definitely worth it.

I’ve been back a few times since then, and I now make a conscious effort to pull my head back during the day. Turns out, if anyone was trying to decapitate me, it was me. After that first appointment I imagined that if I’d never come in, maybe one day my head would have gotten too heavy and simply just fallen off. Ripped at the roots. Tumbling to the floor with all of that knowledge.

This obviously wouldn’t have happened, but more importantly it won’t happen because I faced my fears, went to the chiropractor and set out on a new life’s mission: to be a skyscraper, not a putter.