February 9, 2014

This is no Cave!

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I have been having some pain recently and I am lucky enough to have a friend in town who is a Chiropractor.

To be clear, this is really the only kind of doctor friend I will go to. I say no to gyno friends, no to dentist friends, but, yes to Chiro friends. I have a rule about never letting my friends see into any of my orifices. Close friends can know my deepest darkest secrets, but by no means are they allowed to know how often I floss or what the inside of my vagina looks like.

Anyway, said friend took some X-ray images of me, which I was initially opposed to, but then I figured, hey—he’s the doctor. I might as well let him do his job.


During my “diagnosis” appointment, the doc told me a few things which took me a bit by surprise:

  1. My body is growing stalactites on my spine
  2. Some veins in the lower left quadrant of my torso are calcified
  3. I have the body of a 60 year old woman (I am 44)

He said, with an “aren’t I clever” smile on his face, “you are like a cave.”

I gave him a blank stare.

“Growing stalactites, ya know?”

Immediately my mind went to the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Han yells at Leia, “This is no cave!”

It was all I could do not to shout that at the top of my lungs. In retrospect, I really wish I had. It is not often you get to recreate a scene from one of the best movies of all time.

Then, I got on the adjusting table and proceeded to groan and grunt every time he attempted to adjust me. Every shift and push was met with noises that came from my cave. My dark, stalactite-growing, old lady cave.

At the end of the appointment, he let me know that most likely, I would be fine. If I keep active and continue to eat a healthy diet, my spine would most likely never fuse together, which, evidently is what stalactites do on spines. They grow together.

I looked at the X-rays again. I was mesmerized. It definitely did look like me. I was struck with a flash of wanting diagnostic tests run on every part of my body: MRIs, CAT scans, blood tests, colonoscopies, everything. I realized it really was a good thing my friend was only a chiropractor. After only one set of X-Rays I was becoming addicted to seeing the inside of my body.

calcification of my veins

I went to work later that day and told the bakers that I am cavernous. That things fly into my mouth in the hopes of finding safe shelter. I also told them that I am dying on the inside, but not emotionally, so there is really no need to worry.

I briefly considered making T-shirts that say on the front, “I’m dying on the inside.” But thought the better of it. No need to freak people out.

The next question is, do I want to die this way? Though I know sugar is bad for me, I sometimes eat three pieces of cake a day; it makes me happy.

I was talking to my friend, Summer, about it over lunch, and put forth the idea that maybe the point of life is to enjoy it, not make it last an intolerably long time like so many people want you to believe.

I mean, how much will I actually enjoy life without cake?

She posited that after watching her mother die of cancer, she had come to realize that sugar actually is poison and that she is trying to eat less of it herself.

I argued that my mom died of cancer too, but if anything, she would have wanted me to eat more cake, not less.

I went on to argue that tomatoes, alcohol, gas fumes and mean people are also poison. She agreed and suggested we order a piece of blueberry pie with fresh whipped cream to share. I knew her mom, she definitely would have wanted us to eat cake.

When it comes right down to it, if I am choosing between stalactites and a long life, I am going to go with the stalactites. They are way more interesting than a decades-long story about not eating cake. They could never make a great movie about that.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: elephant journal archives & Courtesy of Author.

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