EXPERIMENTS IN CHIROPRACTIC: Upper Cervical
Updated: 4 days ago
In Fall 2016, I switched from the traditional rack-n-crack chiropractic that I'd been doing since my big car wreck in 2000 to Upper Cervical at Genesis Chiropractic. This modality stopped my seizures in their tracks. I wrote this piece earlier this year, in the midst of my first failed attempt to launch my online school, so it never got edited. This is the foundation beneath the most recent shift in my healing journey that we'll be getting to momentarily. (Call me Scheherazade. I never tell things in order...)
Holy crapdoms! I just got back from the chiropractor where he had to adjust my neck on the left. My neck has never swung out to the left like that before! I didn’t even know where to put my arms when I laid down on my right side.
For the past three years we’ve been working on this right side curvature. In my first x-rays, it was such a wide swing that the middle of my neck was almost out to my cheekbone. I couldn’t imagine how a thing was possible without looking like I had a tumor in my neck, but there were the handy-dandy markers, showing it in black-and-white-with-red-dots.
To this day, my musculature still isn’t remotely symmetrical. When I flex my neck muscles you can really see it. The misalignment along the collarbones. It looks like they don’t even connect at the same place.
This side to side issue, combined with the backwards curvature were the main culprits inciting my seizures, along with a host of other issues.
Apparently, when you have the subluxations (fancy word for vertebrae misalignment) that I do, your CSF (tongue-tangling acronym for cerebrospinal fluid) can get slowed down to a drip. The first time my chiropractor told me about this, I blinked a few times as it struck me.
“Well … what happens to all the rest of the fluid?”
He gave me a pointed look. “Yes. Exactly.”
Oddly enough, the very place where my CSF gets backed up inside my skull is the exact location where I first feel itching, and then this distinctive achy-spasmy sensation that warns me of an impending seizure. When I have one, it feels like a wave of blinding light shooting up from my right occipital lobe over the top of my skull, combined with a head-snap to so violent that someone may as well have punched me with a hefty left-cross.
That is, if I’m not having the kind of seizure that leaves me staring into space. If it goes on long enough, I’m told I look rather catatonic. Then I “wake up” and have no idea what just happened during the duration of the seizure. Occasionally I’ll come to abruptly. Other times it feels like I’m swimming up through the depths. I can feel my mouth hanging open. I can feel my eyes staring, glazed and hollow. I can feel it, while it’s simultaneously like I’m watching it happen from outside myself.
The worst of my brain episodes are always like that — experiencing it in my body, while feeling like I’m not actually inside it.
That’s why, on an emotional level, I prefer having the damn seizure to some of the other symptoms. Because I watch myself go through a panic attack like I’m about to be eaten, or a Chernobyl-esque melt down, or a fit of uncontrollable tears or vomitus profanity that I couldn’t stop if my life depended on it … at these points, my body is crying. My body is enraged.
A lot of times, I actually am not.
But from the outside, it just looks like I’m throwing a temper tantrum or being a drama queen. I just look “emo.”
Nope. Completely neurological and physiological, not heart-driven emotional.
The emotions hit me in the aftermath, when I’m mortified, embarrassed, deeply regretful, and really pissed off. Pissed that I can’t control it. Pissed that I watch myself barreling like an overloaded freight train down the mountainside with no brakes. Pissed that both culprits of this condition were bestowed, not by an accident, not by something in my genes, but by two individuals with proper names. The first was an act of self-destructive recklessness (drunk driver). The second was subversive malice (a true double-punch to the face), and I live with the consequences of their decisions every day.
This blame game is extraordinarily un-fun, because having names and faces can be too easy. Just point the finger and rail.
I’d much rather be able to do something about it all.
Apparently, in collaboration with my chiropractor, I am. Switching to upper cervical chiropractic from traditional rack-and-crack, has made all the difference. I haven’t had a seizure in about two years. I’ve come very close a few times, and I rarely melt down anymore.
I can also feel it in the progress we’ve made with my ability to stand up straight, my hips’ ability to hold their alignment, and the fact that I can finally make progress on my shoulder issues. Those two are quite interdependent. My shoulders affect my neck; my neck affects my shoulders.
Sing it with me now. “The neck bone’s connected to the …”
Any kind of injury affects things both above and below, as I am a living, walking, dancing, breathing testament.
With upper cervical chiropractic, only the neck is adjusted, and only with the most pinpointed, gentle pressure applied directly to the vertebrae, instead of having the head grasped and jerked to make something pop. I never feel a pop with this new modality. The drop table clunks, but in an adjustment, I don’t have any sort of pop. Afterwards, I go into the equivalent of an indoor lawn chair and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. During that time, my body is supposed to adjust itself.
And it absolutely does.
When you have misaligned hips, it’s very easy to see it when you try to line up the feet. Anytime I need a neck adjustment, guaranteed my hips are out. When the adjustment is successful, I get off the lounge chair with even feet, reduced low back pain, and the ability to stand up straight without effort. Sometimes I will regain an inch of height.
While I was on that lounger today, my body was struck with the urge to heave in multiple deep breaths. Every time it did, something in my mid-back or neck made that subtle, pain-free pop of a natural realignment. My left hip is no longer clunking every time I lower the leg from a raised position, and my shimmy is even again. ( In the past few months, my issues have swung back to the original chronic problem in the left hip, rather than the newer compensation injury that resulted in a torn meniscus.)
I have no idea what’s happening, but an abrupt change in pattern without some new injury or pain usually is a very good sign. The fact that my neck is even capable of swinging out to the left now … that’s pretty miraculous!
My head, after all, was swirled around and then slammed to the left so hard that my skull hit the driver’s side doorframe, giving me one of the most potent injuries I deal with: left temporal lobe damage.
The fact that I’m successfully dictating this blog post, instead of having to rely on my less damaged vision and writing center is also a miracle.
Something is happening. A great many things are happening. It started two-and-a-half years ago when a light “you’re open” tag to my right cheek finally popped apart the vertebrae that were locked into the backwards curve position.
A couple hours later as I was watching a movie, I felt like I had come down with an abrupt, really horrific fever. I took my temperature. Huh. My customary slightly-lower-than-normal temp. Yet I started shivering so hard my teeth were chattering. I put on the fuzzy socks, fuzzy pants, another sweatshirt, pulled up the hood and burrowed under the electric blanket on high. For the next four hours, I convulsed so hard I could hear the bed squeaking until I finally crashed the drooling fuck OUT.
When I awoke, I could turn my head without pain and I was not at all sick. Suffice to say, the brain-healing ball that began rolling down the hill that evening is still picking up speed today.
I look forward to seeing what new x-rays will show in the alignment of my neck. I haven’t had them done in about two years. Considering what just happened today, I think it’s time.
It’s time for a whole lot of things.