Today, I again feel like my body is enclosed in itself. My back pain is getting a little better each day, but today it is this constant dull ache. Yesterday, there was really no pain and I felt so free.
This morning, I went to the doctor because the ER insisted I have a follow-up with my primary care physician (even though I had never met him, he has been my PCP for two years—gotta love health care in this country). I wanted a referral for an acupuncturist, which I will receive after I pick one from a list of 10 not knowing anything about any of them.
The doctor acted like he wasn’t really sure why I was there and didn’t really know what he could do to help me. He dismissed what my yoga teacher (who was a PT before teaching yoga) and I thought about it being SI pain, thinking I was trying to diagnose myself with something called Piriformis Syndrome that I had never even heard of until today. He acted like doctors in the “know” don’t believe in it, which was fine by me since I had never heard of it but have to admit I wonder if it might be what is going on because of where the pain is. Anyway, after being treated like I didn’t really know my own body and that my yoga teacher doesn’t know anything (he didn’t give me a chance to explain that she knows EVERYTHING and that doctors in Seattle send their patients to her and that she was actually part of a health study done by my health insurance, the one that pays his bills because it is actually a healthcare network that he is a part of—the recent one in publication in papers across the country about how back pain is decreased by practicing yoga, especially viniyoga), he sat down and started typing all the information in the computer like they do now. Even though I wasn’t asked if I had any questions, I took that opportunity to ask if he thought this was something that would continue throughout my life or if stretches and taking care of myself would help me to avoid it. I guess I already knew the answer that one really can’t know and that stretching and keeping the body flexible is important because of our sedentary society and blah, blah, blah. But then he threw this one in “and maintaining proper body weight to avoid pressure on the back.”
And that was when the little tears that have been threatening to fall for the last six hours started to pinprick on the back of my eyeballs. He kept talking about other things and how he thought I would be fine based on how the pain had already significantly decreased, my desire to get better, and so on. He didn’t explain if he meant “lose weight you big tub” or if he just meant to keep that in mind. He, having never seen me before, didn’t take the time to notice that since I had my last appointment for my annual exam I had lost eight pounds. No. He just threw that little comment out into the world for my ears to hear and my heart to absorb.
So today, I am struggling with looking at any picture of myself, trying to crop out any bit of fat arm, yet forcing myself to look at the double chin that is a part of me. I can’t imagine how I will face the mirror to reflect on it all unless I actually allow myself to have the “sob fest” that is sitting on my heart, threatening to burst open at any minute.
This feeling of being trapped, enclosed in my body is about more than just my back pain this week. It is about all that “stuff” that sits inside my heart. That stuff about how I look and how much I weigh and how it feels to know that losing weight would be better for my health, my self esteem, my heart, my soul. That stuff that invites a feeling of emptiness around the heart instead of the understanding that the emptiness is space waiting to be filled with joy.
I am sure he is a fine doctor. And I know I am one of many patients. I just wish people would take the time to remember they are talking to a person. A person with feelings and a heart who is sitting in a robe feeling vulnerable and scared. A person who has to leave that little examine room and carry on with the tiny pieces of information shared in the least amount of time possible. That person. Today. That person was me.
see more self-portraits here.