A Cow, a Bus and A Pain in the Neck (Not a nursery rhyme)

I was standing in the aisle of a bus with a microphone. There were nearly forty of us, hot, tired and smelling less than fresh after a very long 10-hour day in an outdoor clinic. We were providing much needed optical care to the people of El Salvador. The clinic site was nearly an hour and a half ride from our hotel and the last thing the team wanted to do after returning was attend a meeting – a shower and a cool, adult beverage was far more appealing. So I suggested we debrief on the team bus on the ride home. It sounded like great idea, and I took my position at the front of the bus so all could see and hear me. 
 
A very short version of the rest of the story goes something like this:

  • Cow wanders on the road
  • Bus driver not paying attention (he may have been an early adopter of the “text and drive” craze)
  • Driver sees cow and slams on the brakes
  • Passenger standing in the aisle (that would be me) becomes airborne

I wish I could say I’m exaggerating. I was literally flung into the air, and by the laws of gravity, made my descent, first landing on my rear (that padding I so loathed came in handy this time), quickly followed by a hit to my forearm and elbow, and a wrenching twist of the neck. I was a VERY LUCKY lady, as my head missed smacking into a glass partition that separated the driver from the passengers, by mere inches. I dusted myself off and spent the next few days enjoying ice packs, ibuprofen and Biofreeze. That was over five years ago and I hadn’t given any thought to this for several years, but it popped into my head early this week.
 
You see, I had a playful mishap this past winter. I was on a winter hike and as we approached a playground, a few of us decided to revisit our childhood. I chose to walk across a little wood and metal swinging bridge. Not my most brilliant decision, as days before there had been snow, followed by a melting bright sun, and then cold overnight temps. Yes - it was a sheet of ice! 
 
Of course you know what happened. I fell, catching myself with my right hand, but it was a hard landing and I felt it all the way up into my shoulder and neck. I shrugged it off, but noticed the agitation in my shoulder and neck never really improved.
 
Many months later, I ended up at a chiropractor’s office. After a thorough exam, she shared that my cervical discs (which are in the neck) showed signs of trauma and deterioration beyond what my winter fall might have caused and asked me about my history. Nothing came to mind, until now after several weeks of treatment - for whatever reason, I remembered the cow, my in-bus “flight,” and the “landing.” 
 
The point of this story? 
 
Don’t stand in the aisle of a moving bus in a country where cows and buses share the same roads!
 
Of course, there’s another point too: 
 
Listen To Your Body
 
I wasn’t listening to mine.  For years, my neck and shoulder were causing pain. I ignored it. I didn’t want to be one of
THOSE people – you know who I’m talking about – one of those people who whine and moan about every little ache and pain. 

I’m not an advocate of running to a medical professional with every ache and pain. The body's ability to heal itself is nothing short of extraordinary. But there are times when it could use a little help. So I encourage you to take time – every day – to listen to what your body is telling you, and if that pain or problem isn’t going away on its own, ask for support. This is true not only of injuries, but for problems with your energy levels, your weight, your moods.
 
This chiropractor is using techniques that are incredible and I’m healing.  “What if’s” are futile, yet I do wonder if I’d sought care, would I have avoided five years of discomfort? I don’t know, and I can’t change the past, so in this present moment, I’m grateful I did take action. And I hope I can inspire you to listen to yourself and seek support when you need it.
 

Wishing you healing,
Karen