I took advantage of a free medical screening through my job and ended up in a crowded waiting room with some very sick people. An elderly woman in the chair next to me was pushing a walker back and forth across the waiting room floor.
“They told me I had to stop eating meat to save my life while I was in the hospital, so I stopped eating meat. Any time they bring me food, I just eat everything but the meat,” she said. “I lost sixty-five pounds.”
The slouching men behind her laughed, swinging their heads back, crippled by the hilarity.
Another woman stepped into the conversation. “Don’t laugh, she was trying to save her life. Meat is bad for you. Pork isn’t so bad, though.”
“I had open heart surgery and they told me if I didn’t stop eating meat, I’d die,” the woman with the walker said. “And if they told me to stop eating something else, I’d do it. I have diabetes. My feet swell up so much sometimes they turn red. And I have asthma. I went to the doctor one day because I couldn’t breathe. He said I have COPD.”
All the men in the waiting room seemed to have gimpy legs and dragging feet. One woman was trying to get an appointment for her baby, but the baby was too young to see a general physician.
After filling out some paperwork, it was my turn to see the doctor, a chiropractor. I have scoliosis, sporatic sciatica. I used to be a gymnast; I thought my spine was made of rubber. I wanted to be a Chinese acrobat but I wasn’t even remotely Asian. I carried a bulging backpack that was a third the weight of my late bloomer body throughout middle school. All the standing at work hurts my shoulders and neck and these seem like probable reasons for a crooked spine. If being healthy were a competition, the baby in the waiting room probably would probably win but in spite of everything I was in an admirable second place.
I told these things to the chiropractor and he wanted to see my back for himself. I stood in socks and a dress in the waiting room, touching my toes and standing at different angles. He showed me a picture of a human spine from the side.
“See this curve below the neck? That’s supposed to be there for shock absorption. You don’t have a curve, your spine is perfectly straight.”
My back, with curves in all the wrong places.
“Could that be causing my neck pain? The lack of shock absorption, right?”
I need to know the cause and effect of things and connect the dots. This often annoys doctors.
“It’s very likely. And your hips are uneven. One is higher than the other.”
“Is this why I have scoliosis? My spine is adapting to fit my hips?”
“It’s very likely. Your spine will always adapt to keep your head upright. In extreme cases, you’ll see some people with “s” shaped curves in their back but their heads will always be upright.”
“Is there anything I can do about this? Yoga makes my back feel great, but I can’t do it very often. My cat claimed my yoga mat as her territory. If I try to do yoga in my apartment, she will actually attack my face.”
The chiropractor laughed. “You should video that, you could win a few thousand dollars on World’s Funniest Home Videos. I’d vote for a video of your cat attacking your face while you do yoga.”
“Then I could put the money towards a larger apartment and put a door in between me and my cat.”
In the lobby, I waited to find out information about my insurance from a pregnant receptionist with a striking baby voice. There was another woman next to me this time, the grandmother of the baby. The others in the waiting room declared her a female Chris Rock, to which she responded that she knew she was funny and she wrote things sometimes.
“I’m ready if I ever get into the White House. I’m sick of looking at the White House. It’s boring. You’ll know if I’m president because I’ll paint the White House green,” she said. “I liked to see the look on Romney’s face when he lost. He didn’t have anything to say, he only had an acceptance speech. He looked like he was crying. Now he has to go explain to his seventeen grandkids that they aren’t going to live in the White House. They be like, “What happened, Grandpa? I thought we was gonna move?”
The receptionist came back with my insurance information.
“Every time she speaks I think, ‘where’s the baby?’” the woman beside me said.
“It’s just her voice.”
“I just keep thinking, maybe that’s not her voice. Maybe it’s the baby inside talking.”