She pushes down hard and the table drops from beneath me. She rolls me on my side and does a bounce bear hug combo on my torso. She lays me back down and twists my neck up and to the left, a firecracker going off in my ear.
It’s a 20 minute drive there and around about ten minutes in, the hill crests and the landscape splits and I can see the ocean over a mound of coniferous trees. Then the road descends and curves, a misaligned spine snaking through pines and then mansions and then boutiques.
It smells like patchouli and lavender. A chart on the wall tells me that my thyroid is Fire and my pancreas is Earth. She prescribes me Allergy for my ileocecal valve and twists my neck, pushes down on my back, checks my nervous system.
I spend $24 on a holistic spray because I do what I’m told. I pay $41 for an enzyme supplement because I do what I’m told. I agree to consume nothing but meat, vegetables, and fruit for 30 days because I do what I’m told. I drive twenty minutes there and back for ten minutes of twisting, pushing, cracking, jargon, pay the $20 copay three times a week on my credit card because I can’t actually afford this, because I don’t want to hurt anymore and I’ll buy anything that might bring relief.
I’ve always done what I’m told. I’ve always needed to be told. Need to sit and stare into this woman’s eyes as she tells me I need to do this if I want to get better. It’s not a question of if but a matter of now.
I haven’t had caffeine in six days and the headaches are becoming a little less. I enrolled in a pilates class and bought an aerobic bathing suit so I could feel like I’m doing something beyond spraying a homeopathic preparation on my tongue every two hours and stirring powdered amino acids in my coconut milk every morning. I do sadistic things to my IT bands and count calories because doctors tell me to and I do what I’m told.
I’ve seen five medical professionals in four weeks. In nine months I’ll be unemployed and without insurance. Every year the muscles tighten just a little more, the joints stiffen just a little more, I’m fatigued just a little more, I have to stop and rest and stretch just a little more.
Every year I become just a little more aware of how fragile my body is, a little more aware of how I’m aging, lines forming around my eyes, weight settling around my midsection, a decreased tolerance for everything, and an increased willingness to try anything to feel younger, healthier, stronger, again.
Every year I’m a little less certain of myself, a little more wary, a little more afraid the table is going to drop from beneath me and that this time, I’ll fall with it.