I got the idea a few months ago to write a short story about a girl in her twenties who ages rapidly from the inside out. Her outside remains that of a young, nubile, muscular body, but her insides are that of an eighty-year-old woman’s.

In short, me.

I haven’t written the story yet, and I’m hereby copyrighting the idea, so please don’t steal it from me. Of course, now that I’ve written down my idea in a public place, the story will probably never get written. That’s what happens with writing, I’ve found. It’s best not to talk about it ahead of time.

Anyway, I have the body of an old woman, except you can’t tell by looking at me. I have arthritis and bursitis and acid reflux and astigmatism and eye floaters and tracers and who knows what else. A brain tumor? Sure. Maybe my ovaries are also probably empty and my uterus shriveled up. Never can tell.

And now I have a herniated cervical disc.

It took two sets of X-rays, an MRI, and six weeks for the doctors to determine that this is what is wrong with me. When I called my mom to give her the diagnosis, she was quiet for a bit, and then said, “You’re a little young for that.”

An injury such as this is usually the result of some bodily trauma, such as a car accident. My chiropractor said that my neck looks like I’ve got whiplash. Over and over, doctors ask me what happened. My answer?


Y’all. I got a herniated cervical disc from sitting down and bending over ads all day.

I was working on a theory that my body is literally rejecting my job, like that time I didn’t want to be married anymore and got a urinary tract infection anytime then-Husband even looked at me. But then I got a UTI recently, presumably from now-Boyfriend, so that simile went to hell, but I think the theory still holds.

Either way, I’m pretty sure the human body simply was not meant to remain seated, much less hunched over, for eight hours a day. And the fact that I’m sacrificing my body for work I don’t really believe in doesn’t much help.

As part of my treatment I have to go see an orthopedist whose office I hate.

These are some of the reasons I hate it:

It has a huge aquarium, and aquariums are depressing to anyone who’s seen Finding Nemo. The fish can’t swim anywhere but in the same loop around the coral, and they are meant to be swimming freely in the expansive ocean. (Do you catch the correlation between the fish and me?) However, today I looked the zebra-striped one, who seems to be fond of me, in the eye and said, “at least you’re not in the Gulf.” A cold comfort.

It is decorated like an early ’90s department store, dusty rose everywhere, like something out of any one of the Saved by the Bell episodes that took place in a mall.

There is no constant presence behind the front desk, only people who mill around among the files. Sometimes they copy things, sometimes they shred things, but they never do anything else, including speak English or help me.

Perhaps correspondingly, a regular appointment takes about three hours on average, and every time I go, a disgruntled patient is complaining loudly about how they have been there for THREE HOURS, and they have a JOB they need to get to, and it’s like this EVERY TIME they come, what kind of operation is this, ANYWAY?

The magazine selection is terrible: A/W, ESPN, Sporting News, WebMD, Texas Highways, Outside, Discover.

The lighting is dim. Creepily so, like something out of a nightmare.

Every room contains the same diagram of “The Amazing Back,” which does not at all look like my current back sitch, and basically proclaims, “Your back is NOT amazing. It is fucked up. From PROOFREADING.”

You see the top of the spine, how it curves slightly to the left? Yeah, mine curves to the right. I’ve got X-rays to prove it.

The nurses always leave the examination room doors open. I’m not fond of other patients walking by and gawking at me.

And the visits are always such a joy. Today I got a three-inch needle containing a large amount of cortisone stuck into my right shoulder, and now it hurts worse than my shoulder ever hurt before.

For your sake, I did not take a picture of the needle.

But the real reason I’m writing this post is not to complain about my maladies, which would make me evermore like an old person.

It is to tell you this: after the physician’s assistant injected the lidocaine into my shoulder to prep me for the real (painful) shot, he said, “These needles are fun because you can do this,” and then he tossed the used needle like a dart into the seat of one of the chairs in the room. The nurse playfully said, “Don’t you do that!” to him as he laughed maniacally, and I wondered aloud, “Isn’t that a biohazard?”

Won’t be sitting in these chairs again.

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10 Responses to Herniation

  1. Deb says:

    Frightening! Find a different orthopedist!

    I am taking my own advice and finding a different urologist next time around. One who understands that treating the prostates of eighty year old men and the ureters belonging to women in their twenties are very different…

  2. Becky says:

    My brain is rejecting your story of the needle-throwing physician’s assistant. I already have to worry about semen in hotel rooms and feces on gym equipment/telephones/cash, thanks to NBC’s “Special Reports.” Now you’re telling me I have to also be concerned about germs from the innards of somebody’s shoulder deposited via flying syringe on the seats in the doctor’s office??

    Not your shoulder, mind you. I am sure yours is a very nice, non-germy shoulder. It’s all the other people’s shoulders I’m worried about.

    When I was reading your post, I couldn’t help visualizing it in graphic-novel format. I suspected that, at any moment, the crazy, dart-throwing physician’s assistant would transform into the villain, with the nurse as his malevolent sidekick and you his innocent victim. Perhaps said villain is consumed with ruling the world with his prowess at darts? Perhaps he practices his evil dart skills by skewering his victims to a huge, person-sized corkboard? :::shudder:::

    I have way too much time on my hands today. On another topic, I enjoy your writing style very much, and I put a link to your blog on mine. Is that okay?


  3. Rebecca says:

    you should write a review on Yelp about the office. Sometimes that actually helps change things. Is Yelp big in Dallas?

  4. Rebecca says:

    Also, I wonder if you could file a workmans comp claim and get disability…

  5. It is a worker’s comp claim, which is why I have to go to this specific orthopedist. I didn’t get to pick it, and I’m pretty sure I don’t get to switch. The fact that it’s a worker’s comp doctor further adds to the dreariness of the office, but I didn’t say that in my post for fear of sounding too much like a snob.

    Becky, of course it’s okay! I’m flattered. 🙂

  6. Katy says:

    This is hilarious. Also, that totally looks like one of those commercials for places that specialize in work place injuries.

    My back hurts all the time. Yoga helps.

  7. Molly says:

    WHAT? That seems…I don’t know…not legal?

  8. Tony says:


    My best friend from High School is a PA in an Ortho Clinic in West Plano (actually, I think it’s Carrollton). I had to take my son there this week for a hurt foot – and it only took them 8 minutes to call us back. The whole appointment, complete with two sets of X-Rays only took 1 hour. You should look into finding a different doctor. If you are willing to drive about 20 minutes, I highly recommend Metrocrest Orthopedics and Dr. Wheeler. If you go, when you see Nick Stroh tell him I sent you and you’ll get GREAT treatment.

  9. marcy says:

    it’s like my mind refuses to process what the physician’s assistant did. literally, i read that paragraph three times and still i keep thinking, “no…surely not! i must have misread that.”

    i am beyond disturbed.

  10. Julienne says:

    This sounds like my allergist’s office….

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