Dear People Who Have Lower Backs:
Are you tired of back pain? Of being unable to pick up a piece of lint without throwing your back out the window? Of having to make up stories about how you got your injury while rescuing an endangered Rocky Mountain South China Sea Manatee because you’re too embarrassed to say it was all about the lint? Are you dead sick of having your hips fall down around your ankles every time a song from the ’80s comes on the radio and you sort of lose yourself in an MC Hammer moment?
WELL. I have a solution for you: Deep Tissue Massage. Also known as The Wrecking Ball, The Elbow of Death, or Let-Me-Just-Take-A-Jack-Hammer-To-That-Skinny-Little-Glute-Muscle-of-Yours.
Yeah. I hurt my back last week. I’ve hurt my back last week for the past twelve years. But this time it’s hit critical mass. Turns out I have boatloads of scar tissue all through my buttal region from years of dancing and running on a wonky hip and uneven legs, and then throwing my back out during pregnancy. And now all that mess has thrown its hands up in disgust and is just sitting there, forming knots around itself and preventing my sacrum from remaining in the upright and locked position.
I’ve been to doctors, sports therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors — and they’ve all helped. I’ve got some new medical consultants who are keeping me mobile. However, it is time my friends for something new. Something alarming. Something butt-aclysmic.
Deep. Tissue. Massage.
That’s what I said.
In fact, it is time for this thing yesterday. Which is when I went and had it done. To my very person. Oh. Em. Gosh. Have you had deep tissue massage? I have. And what I had before wasn’t this, baby. What I had before was to this massage as a sneeze is to an atomic blast. Not. The Same.
I knew I was in trouble when I hobbled in and was greeted by someone much smaller than I. Smaller vertically. Horizontally, this woman had curves where I have only ever had corners. She was more womanly than I’ve been in my entire life, including pregnancies. And the curves, I would come to quickly find out, were the curves of straight-up muscle mass. Straight. Up. Deltoids the size of hams, traps like steel bands, and biceps the size of my head.
I was going to die.
But hey. If I was going to die, I should get on with it. So I did. I voluntarily (and quickly, and with tremendous self-consciousness, as my body carries the carnage of four childbirths along with nearly fifty years) disrobed and scuttled myself between the two little sheets on the massage table. Then I lay there, face in the towel-wrapped-face-holder-thingie, listening to a funky celtic playlist that did not make me feel any less naked and ready to be body-slammed by a female Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson mini-me.
After a few minutes, during which I began to relax and tell myself that it probably wasn’t going to be that bad, my macerator — I MEAN MASSEUSE — walked in, asked if I was ready, slathered her hands with lotion, and attacked. Oh, she started out benignly enough, just rubbing my back, lulling me into a false security. Predatory creatures do that, you know. And right when I was about to slip into a sort of fluffy-unicorn-and-skittles state of bliss,
Whoa! What was that?
“Oh, just a little knot on your ribcage. I’m going to have to work it out. This might hurt a little.”
“Yep. You’ve got a lot of scar tissue down here on your glutes too, where the psoas comes across. I’ll just dig in a bit. There may be some agony . . . “
Jeesh! Swearword! SWeArwOrd! SwEaRwoRd! (As I have established, I don’t swear. At least not out loud. Most of the time. So this was in my head. And it was probably just “crap!” No, for reals.)
But I couldn’t let on that it hurt so much. I mean, what was the norm? Did people usually scream during deep tissue massage? Was I just a wimp? Was wrenching the towel-wrapped-face-holder-thingie from its post and using it to knock the knees from beneath this woman an appropriate response? Who knew?
So instead I raised a finger and said, “Um, excuse me. Is this (OW) level of discomfort (AARGG) normal? (YEEOWCHIEWOOWOO)”
“Oh. Is this too much? I could drill in a little less if you want me to.”
“Um. Yes. Maybe that would be good.”
Annnnnd . . . . *cricket* Was she drilling in less? I couldn’t tell. In fact, I was pretty sure that if she didn’t hurry up and drill less she was going to strike oil.
That’s when I began to sing: “OWWWWW WHAT A BEAUTIFUL MORRRRNIIIINGGGG! OWWWW WHAT THE CRAP ARE YOU DOOINNNGG BACK THERRRRRRE?” You know, from Oklahoma?
Well. That was embarrassing. But she was nice about it. As she carefully pried my gluteus minimus from from the bone and made an origami crane out of it, she explained that most people who come in for deep tissue massage make noise. In fact, often there is so much noise that when she walks out of the chamber to give her clients a chance to recover and see if their clothes still fit, the entire office is staring at her, round-eyed over what that had sounded like. But I was fine. I was hardly making any noise at all.
As little furry animals do when they know they are near death. They just . . . submit . . .
Finally when we got to the end, and I was this close to repeatedly slamming my hand down on the table and crying like a WWF fighter, she said, “Well, we’re almost done. Next time maybe we’ll use a scraper. That’ll really clear all this scar tissue out of there.”
Next time? Scraper? NEXT TIME?!
Right. If it involves something called a “scraper,” which I don’t even want to know what that is, I ain’t showing up. Me and my scar tissue? We are going to make friends. We are going to start going to movies together and getting drunk on Advil Liquigels and not letting anything remotely resembling a “scraper” anywhere near us. The only “deep-tissue” anybody is going to access around me is the kind that comes in a box and has a drop of lotion added to it. And even that is questionable. A drop of lotion is how my little Rock-woman started the whole thing.
In fairness, I will say that I am walking better since that twisted experience. And I am in a lot less pain. But my face has looked like this ever since, and I can’t get it to stop:
So I’m thinking . . . no “next time.” I’ll keep you posted, though. Especially about changes in my face.