LS: Bruce Cameron Column February 08, 2009

All stuck up

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I’m having a lot of pain in my rear end, and not just because I’ve got three kids. It’s because my back hates me. I guess I can’t blame it: Picture how you’d feel if you knew someone who kept steering you over to the couch and sitting on you.

Backbones are constructed in a way that resembles what would happen if you went to the cafeteria at a retirement home, grabbed several plates of lime Jell-O and stacked them on top of each other. The plates are your vertebrae, and the jiggling squares of Jell-O are your discs. In my case, a little of the Jell-O has leaked out, and my back muscles have reacted to the situation by spasming painfully, which is a bit like treating a toothache with artillery.

My back hurts so much I can’t work, I can’t do laundry, I can’t do anything but sit on the couch and eat. But there’s also a downside: My doctor refuses to treat me with the medication I’m demanding, which is a general anesthetic.

I don’t see anything wrong with falling asleep and not waking up until my back is healed and I’m richer and better looking, but apparently in med school they teach doctors that narcotics aren’t always the best treatment, just the most enjoyable. So instead of medicating me the way he’d medicate an escaped rhino, my doctor has prescribed physical therapy, massage and acupuncture.

I can handle physical therapy as long as it’s on a DVD, and I don’t at all mind the idea of some woman running her hands up and down my body, but acupuncture?

My acupuncturist, Dr. Stabsticker, informed me that the practice of acupuncture can be traced as far back as 3,000 B.C., though she herself hasn’t been doing it that whole time.

Besides the needles, Dr. Stabsticker also treated me with small suction cups, which she explained would pull bad blood to the surface of my skin. The sensation isn’t unpleasant: I imagine it’s similar to what it would feel like to be kissed on the backside by Angelina Jolie.

Where each of the dozen or so suction cups was placed up and down my body, a round, hideously purple bruise soon appeared: I look like the victim of a drive-by paintball shooting.

“Those bruises will go away in time,” Dr. Stabsticker assured me. But isn’t that true about everything?

She also sold me some Chinese herb extract to drink. They come in two batches, helpfully labeled “Number 1” and “Number 2.” Apparently, the Chinese use the same identification method for medications as for their restaurant menu items.

“Drink them at the same time to rebuild your essence,” Dr. Stabsticker told me.

Well, I’ve tried the stuff, and they taste exactly like what would happen if you took some number 1 and mixed it with number 2, if you get my drift. I gagged my way through the first batch, then decided that if this is what I have to do, I don’t even want an “essence.” Even my dog wouldn’t eat it, and my dog has eaten some pretty disgusting stuff in its life.

One of the reasons that acupuncture is effective in relieving pain is that the needles release endorphins — only in my case, once the endorphins were released, they ran away. They’re
probably living it up in Acapulco or someplace, most likely partying with my essence, who says it’s not coming back until Bruce drinks more of that Chinese puke he bought from Dr.

I’m scheduled for a few more visits to the acupuncturist, who promises that if I keep it up, I’ll see a significant lessening of pain — plus, if I faithfully drink herbs number 1 and number 2,

I should see some weight loss through hurling. (She didn’t say that last part, but I know my own gag reflex, and I’ll tell you right now, we’re not getting any more numbers past it.)

Regardless, I’m hopeful and pretty anxious to find out if acupuncture really works.

I guess you could say I’m on pins and needles.



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