Due to relative physical inactivity over the last few months, my body has gotten to feeling a bit neglected. We all like to be left alone sometimes, but after awhile, we want someone to come throw us a ball and take us for a walk. And, like a terrier who's been left at home alone one too many times in a week and in return decides to pee in your bed, my back decided to knot up on me.
Starting Friday, it was so tight that I could barely stand upright. No pain while lying down or sitting, but the latissimus dorsi in my lumbar region simply did not want to see me standing erect, and gave me to understand that, while the tightness was just a warning shot across the bow, further attempts to get active would result in Pain.
I puttered about my weekend activities, having coffee with my brother, meeting my friend Paula the SculptureLady for dinner, and shooting a plate match with my dad. But always, always, the tightness and growing imminent threat of pain. Actually, I'll just have to admit that sore aching was indeed occurring, which I'll have to grant counts as pain. Technically.
But I was trying to put it off. I put it off because I get this about once a year, and after a few days, it usually goes away without intervention. But my wife got tired of watching me creak around making old man sounds, and told me to check on a chiropractor today.
_ _ _
I appreciate that a chiropractor can do great things for an ailing back. My late uncle was a doctor of chiropractic, who on one occasion provided me with a treatment. I was to leave for my vacation in 4 hours, and I was in a bad way. A disc had displaced enough that I was in serious pain, even while sitting. My uncle saw me on zero notice, manipulated my back for about 45 minutes, and sent me on my way, with my pain gone. At the very least, my vacation was saved. So I know that it can be done.
Then, too, are the guys that are in it for the long haul. The return visit and the recurring appointment is all they're interested in. My wife, after a significant car crash, decided just to have herself checked out. I encouraged her to do so, not wanting her to miss a subtle injury if she had been hurt. Insurance would cover the cost. After her third frustrating visit of leaving the "injury clinic" and telling them repeatedly "I'm not actually feeling any pain, thank you. The treatments are nice, but I just want to be released with the assurance that I'm not injured," I accompanied her to the office, and we put our foot down-- there would be no more treatments without a diagnosis. (Ending treatment before medically recommended would of course have meant that we would have to pay, instead of the insurance, we were told.) The medical doctor gave the nod, and finally my wife was free-- and she'd never even been injured to begin with. The cost went to over $1000.
_ _ _
So this morning I walked into a conveniently local chiropractic clinic to see about the possibility of a quick back manipulation. Oh, heavens, no. That would take an appointment for one-- no, two-- weeks distant. Well, I thought as I leaned over the counter-- I'm glad I'm not in any real pain (ache). I asked about the cost. Did I have insurance? Oh, sure. Blue Cross. The lady behind the counter worked it up and cheerfully informed me that my first visit would be $176 with insurance, but $182 without. Future visits could be discounted without insurance, at only $46 per visit.
As my eyes glazed over, I noticed that this woman was wearing scrubs.
The woman behind her, pasting labels onto manila folders and doing some kind of billing tasks on a computer, was wearing scrubs.
Why do simple office clerks wear scrubs in doctors' offices, hospitals, veterinary clinics, dentist's offices, and, I now see, chiropractic offices? Seriously...? What's the point? Why can't they just dress professionally, and leave the attire of medical professionals to the medical people? Why do I have to read the little tag (that's always flipped over backwards anyway) to read the 4 point type under their name to learn that they are either a D.O. or a D.C. (Heh. Don't make the mistake of calling the former the latter, mm'kay?) or an LVN or an RN or a PA or a professional toilet backup maintenance specialist? Look, I understand that the days of the cap and pin with white uniforms and white hosiery is gone for nurses, and that the white lab coat is on its way out for doctors, but can't we just agree that the person making my appointments and swiping my credit card is an office clerk, and not a Medical Professional? There is nothing wrong with being "just a clerk." Nothing at all. This world would stop running without them. But let's not put on airs and call them medical staff; they're not.
I came out of my fog to hear the chirpy clerk-in-scrubs ask if a Thursday afternoon would be sufficient, two weeks from now. Fine. As she filled out an appointment card, she told me that I would be assessed a penalty charge for failing to notify them that I was cancelling the appointment with less than 24 hours' notice. Well, at least she got that part right-- my plan was to cancel in a couple of days, as soon as my back
"Sir, while you're here, do you mind if I photocopy your driver's license and insurance card?" the chipper clerk asked me as I turned away to hobble toward the door.
I stopped and turned around just enough to make eye contact with her. "Yes. I do," I said evenly, and went out the door.
Eh. I think my tightness is beginning to subside, anyway.