Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Chiropractor

Several years ago, when my wife and I were first married, she was having some back pain and decided to see a chiropractor. Like all true practitioners of the craft, he felt it would be unethical to simply pop her spine without a comprehensive treatment plan. His initial assessment revealed that my poor spouse was suffering from a multitude of ailments such as asymmetrical leg length and spinal misalignment.  Thankfully, we caught it early and there was hope in the form of out-of-pocket recurring appointments.

Over the next few months, inserts were placed in her shoes and electrical pulses were applied to her back muscles as they constantly adjusted her vertebrae. While these actions might sound ridiculous, they did seem to ease her discomfort so I attempted to keep comments to a minimum. Once the initial tasks of connecting her to a car battery and cracking her backbone had been completed, she was given at home devices for further healing.

The most unusual setup involved a wedge-shaped foam pillow that was to be placed under the back of her neck while she laid flat across the bed. We would then position her so that her head was barely hanging over the edge of the mattress. Then, we attached a head-weight to her cranium so that gravity could assist in elongating her tragically compressed lumbar.

For those that do not know, the head weight was a rather sinister-looking apparatus comprised of a weighted concrete ball that attached to the patient’s skull via an intricate web of straps. Several times a week she was to attach her head-gear and allow it to decompress her back. Between sessions we simply tossed the wedged pillow and face-straps under the bed so that it was out of the way.

A few months into this routine, we purchased a new mattress and I asked my dad to come by and help me get the old mattress down the flight of stairs and out of the way. As we lifted the old box-springs, I noticed my father was staring intently at the space under the bed frame. As I came around to the other side of the mattress, I noticed what had arrested his attention.

There, surrounded by old condom wrappers we had forgotten to pick up, was the wedge and face-ball. Until that moment, it had never quite occurred to me how much her spinal accessories looked like a sex-toy starter kit. This was made worse by the fact that the manufacturer of the equipment had chosen to paint every last inch of it jet-black. It looked like a gigantic prosthetic testicle and the fact that it was wreathed by Trojan wrappers only exacerbated the problem.

I quickly weighed my options:
  1. Attempt to explain that the prophylactics were completely unrelated and that everything he saw was a legitimate medical device.
  2. Feign shock and vow that my wife was sure going to have some explaining to do when she got home.
  3. Pretend that I somehow did not see the S&M starter kit so prominently displayed under the bed.
I decided to go with option one but the more I talked the more I wish I had selected option three. He nodded politely as I explained everything, but I suspect he had long since retreated to that place inside where he was mercifully oblivious to what was stored under his firstborn’s bed. Even as I heard myself speaking, I realized how much it sounded like a poorly constructed lie.

We have never spoken of the incident since, and I am certain that suits my father just fine. Even though she no longer needs it for spinal correction, we have kept the skull-berry to use against intruders in the event of a home invasion. Ironically, just the image of me in my underwear holding this thing would probably be enough to ensure they never return.

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