I was on a road trip with my host family, traveling from the Midwest to the Deep South.
The Man and the Lady of the House were taking turns driving. I didn’t have a driver’s license, so I was relegated to the back seat, stuck in the middle between The Boy in his booster seat to my right and the surly teenage brother of the Man of the House on my left. For over 850 miles, my feet perched on the hump in the middle of the floor, keeping my knees bent and closer to my chin than comfortable.
When we stopped at a motel for the night, I could barely walk. My knee hurt. My knee hurt badly. My knee hurt terribly. My knee hurt when I flexed it. My knee hurt when I walked.
Up to that point in my life, hurt had only happened because of something I had done. I’d hurt my back in ridiculous ways: sneezing, reaching for a towel. I’d hurt my ankles by twisting them while walking. But I’d never hurt myself by sitting still.
I hobbled into the motel room and got some sleep. My knee didn’t hurt when I kept it still; it only hurt when I tried to use it. Of course, my instinct told me not to move it if moving it hurt. I didn’t realize my best bet was to keep moving it until I worked out the kinks.
The next morning I hobbled back out to the car and folded myself again into the middle seat. I guess the surly teenage brother got the window seat because he was taller, with longer legs. As a shortie, I’ve always taken the seat with the least leg room, so it didn’t occur to me to ask him to switch places or even insist upon it. I was his elder, after all, and I was in pain, but the middle seemed to be my destiny, so I went with it.
By the time we arrived at our final destination, I was in A LOT OF PAIN. I hobbled into the house. I lay down on a bed and told the Lady of the House how much it hurt. She looked at me with sympathy. I asked her to put some healing touch on me.
Healing touch was something I’d learned from a midwife at an infoshop. In the workshop, she taught us to mostly hover our hands over the body of the person we wanted to heal. When we felt a change in energy, we were to keep our hands above that area and concentrate on smoothing out any roughness we found in the energy. If the healer and the person with the pain both felt comfortable, the healer could do some actual light physical touch.
My mistake came from forgetting that the Lady of the House had not attended the midwife-led healing touch workshop. My mistake came from forgetting that the Lady of the House had not attended any healing touch workshop ever. My mistake came from failing to define terms or otherwise using my words to explain what I wanted the Lady to do.
As far as I know, the Lady of the House has never been trained as a chiropractor. I’ve never been treated by a chiropractor, so my ideas of what they do is shrouded in myth and legend. But in my mind, what the Lady did next was closer to a chiropractic manipulation than a gentle laying of hands.
I was lying on my back with my knee bent, leg raised, with my foot and buttocks lifted off the bed. The Lady of the House grabbed my foot and in one swift motion, straightened my leg. She didn’t stop there. Oh, no, she didn’t. She hyperextended my knee, not drastically, but enough to make me yell in pain. That shit hurt!
However, as I looked at her in disbelief and suspicion, I started moving my knee. It didn’t hurt. She had healed me.
She probably should have enrolled in chiropractic school as soon as she returned home. She seemed to be a natural.