I’d never heard of a chiropractor until my back started to hurt.
“Go see a chiropractor” several people urged “they work wonders” they all added with beaming smiles, all of them wonderful glossy magazine testaments to the marvellous work of the chiropractor.
Of course none of them mentioned that at the time the practice of chiropractice was not officially recognised by the NHS, it wasn’t available as a treatment under the NHS and when I mentioned it to my doctor she just scowled and mumbled something under her breath that I couldn’t quite catch but sounded suspiciously like “witch doctor”
The back was aching though, in that stage before it locked up completely and the lying on the floor for months on end treatment was prescribed, so I booked a session at a local chirpractors, even paid for it with my own money.
It was in a private house in Headingley, an old woman sat in the entrance hall to the house pretending to be the receptionist and she took the money off me before I was allowed to hobble into what was undisguisedly the living room of the house wherein sat the middle aged chiropractor-woman, a thin, rather miserable looking woman with all the conversational ability of your average garden shed.
“Sit down” is all she said, so I did
She then read out a list of pre-prepared questions based on the whole of my life story to date, I can only imagine that maybe she moonlighted as a biography ghost writer and she was looking for her next subject, eventually she decided that I wasn’t interesting enough for a writing project and she told me to take all of my clothes off except my underpants, its a good job that she added that last bit.
I gazed around the room expecting to see a screen of some description, that folding screen on wheels so beloved of comedy sketch writers where I could change behind and fling my clothes over the top to the amusement of the studio audience, a truss, a corset and maybe some womens stockings – another story altogether, lets move on…
No screen insight I simply stood in the middle of the room and removed my clothing, throwing it on the floor, just like at home, until I stood there clad only in my crackers and it was then that I noticed that the bay window of this former living room had no blinds, just some whispy net curtains, I could see out at the traffic and pedestrians so presumably they could see in too, some were already drawing up folding chairs to the garden wall.
She stared at me for what seemed like a long time, “Stand up straight” she commanded
“I am standing up straight” I replied
“Then that is your problem” she stated categorically, “your spine is bent”
Good these chiropractor’s aren’t they, she could see all of that just by watching me take my clothes off, mind, I was as twisted as a ham-actors interpretation of Shakespeare’s Richard III, I had a bad back you see.
She commanded that I lay on a treatment table at the back of the room and then placed an infra-red lamp against the sore part of the back and left the room – for what seemed like ages.
When she returned she massaged and manipulated the offending lower back for several minutes before instructing me to lay on my side, one knee drawn up to my chest.
There may have been an explanation as to what would happen next, I can’t remember, I was too busy thinking just how bizarre the whole situation was, me lying curled up and almost naked on a table in full view of the outside world while a miserable woman poked and prodded at my back, I’m sure there are “specialist” parlours in Soho who cater for this sort of thing but all I wanted was to be rid of my bad back.
And it was while these thoughts were drifting through my mind that she jumped on my ribs and a sickening “crack” was heard, so loud that people walking by on the street outside all cringed and muttered “oooh, I bet that hurt”, and indeed it did, but it wasn’t my ribs that had cracked, it was the joints in my spine.
I’m sure that she probably explained the theory and I’ve since read the theory that the bones in your spine sometimes need a little delicate persuasion to loosen up a bit, I’m sure the theory was that the bones in my lower spine needed to loosen up a bit and stop putting pressure on the cartilage disc that had been squished, it sounds good in theory, it just hurt a lot in practice thats all – even though its not supposed to hurt at all.
But there was more, she rolled me over and did the same ont he other side after which she pronounced that I was cured with the same sort of theatrical flourish that a Southern Baptist Preacher will make when curing a crippled child.
As I limped from the room in a passable imitation of John Hurt’s “The Elephant Man” it didn’t feel very “cured”, despite the comment from little old lady in the hallway who was still pretending to be a receptionist that I now looked “A lot better love, do you need another appointment ?”
I declined another appointment and never went back, a few days later I took to the floor and called a proper doctor.