Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A 50,000 Mile Tuneup

Sometimes I wish we were more like cars. Because I desperately need a tuneup.

If I were a car, I would say I've hit 50,000 miles. The warranty's expired and I am halfway through my projected usable lifespan. Things are starting to get a little worn, a little rattly, a little rusty.

I'm lucky that I am pretty healthy. The only chronic health problems I have are minor and since they are cancer-treatment related, they are checked on twice a year by knowledgeable doctors who know me very well. But as I get older, other small things, the little aches and pains, are starting to pile up. By themselves, these small complaints are nothing; most can be driven away with a couple of Advil or a good night's sleep. When they all flare up at the same time, though, it makes life miserable and it's harder to justify putting off a visit to the doctor. Though I do try.

This week I've had some things pile up in just a big enough heap to turn on my "check engine" light. Among them is a return of the vertigo that plagued me for over two weeks this spring and which seems to be the result of inner-ear wackness; another is a tooth I've neglected for years and which now throbs after contact with any food or drink not at exactly room temperature. I have been scheduled for a root canal. I was actually ashamed to go to my dentist for this yesterday; when it's been 15 months since your last checkup, you pretty much feel like you have it coming and deserve a little scorn and "I told you this would happen if you didn't get that followed up."

I am so diligent about the health of my child; if Ains so much as coughs or gets a little warm after a day outside, I am all over it with thermometers and calls to the doctor. I am so much more "wait and see and then wait some more" with myself. Mostly this serves me well and these little minor irritations work themselves out; sometimes, like with my tooth, the mole hill darn near becomes a mountain before I feel I can take the time off work or time away from Ains to ask my doctor to fix me. With my medical history, I really and truly should know better. You all know what it's like, though; until a body part falls off, or a minor ache turns into the pain of the rack and forces you to take immediate action, it's all too easy to find more important things to do than to do routine maintenance on your own body. Truly, we take better care of our cars.

A couple of weeks ago my church had a holistic health fair for the women of the parish. For $15, we were treated to a light lunch and blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings, 10-minute chair massages, healing touch therapy, mini-facials and manicures, and information sessions about accupuncture, hypnotherapy, chiropractic medicine, and something called craniosacral therapy which boggled my mind with its new age-ness. Prior to that day, I had been having some muscle spasms in my neck, and some joint stiffness, and fatigue, and a general case of the blahs. But by the time the day was over, after having been massaged, touched by healing hands, having a chiropracter hold a heated magical massage pad over my lower back, been told that my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were good, and even volunteered to have a couple of accupuncture needles inserted to show the others at the demonstration that it didn't hurt (and it really didn't; I just felt a little full-body warmth after being pin-cushioned) I really did feel better. Some of those little aches and pains went away for a while. I was both more energetic and more relaxed at the same time. I slept like the proverbial baby that night. Whether alternative medicine works for the reasons the practitioners say it does (energy fields, meridians, and so on) I really don't know. Maybe it's just that little bit of time for ourselves, time for our minds to focus on our own bodies for a change, that heals our pain.

Whatever it is, I am willing to give some of this a try. Except that, like trips to the doctor, it requires time. And that's something I just don't have a lot of.

But if going to an accupuncturist, or a massage therapist, or a craniosacral whateverist, on a semi-regular basis would be the equivalent of an automotive 10-point safety inspection and oil change...well, that might make it worth it.

Have you ever tried "alternative" medicine? Would you ever consider getting turned into a human pincushion if it would make some of these holy-crap-I'm-in-my-mid-30s aches and pains go away?

1 comment:

CranioBrian said...

I am 34 and have tried acupuncture ... and many other 'alternative' therapies. But being an advanced trained, Certified CranioSacral Therapist, I always come back to CranioSacral work. For me, it is the only thing that keeps me tuned up physically, mentally, and spiritually. I get at least one session a month and try to get two per month. But, when some ache or pain pops up, or something just doesn't feel right, I am on the table within 24 hours.

I'm also a Licensed Massage Therapist and love a great massage every now and then. But, for me, CranioSacral Therapy is what keeps me healthy. I have a long family history of cancer, and stress related disorders. My brothers (38 and 40) have already started to see signs of stress related conditions. I have not seen any at all. And with regular CranioSacral Therapy sessions and occasional massage therapy sessions, I don't plan on ever 'suffering' from stress.