Electricity II

The story so far is that I hurt my back, and then made it worse by working it harder. My wife encouraged me to try out a chiropractor, and despite my skepticism I allowed that I'd give it a try.

I should admit that she didn't exactly talk me into it, she just made me an appointment and dared me not to go. I think something that happens in married couples is that you begin to recognize that no matter how high-achieving and well-adjusted your mate appears, in certain private aspects of their life they function at the level of a child. I am capable of maintaining superb composure on the scene of horrific car accidents, but I cannot, will not, get myself to a dentist without being informed of the time and date of my appointment and told in no uncertain terms that I will submit myself to it. 

So now we're at the part of the chiropractor visit when they put some electrodes on my back and start turning up the juice until my muscles twitch. At first it was just a faint sensation of static on my back, and I was peppering the staff person with questions. How much amperage? What's the highest you can go? Are you allowed to do this to people with pacemakers or cardiac conditions? 

One of the things I can do to patients, as a Paramedic, is transdermal cardiac pacing, in which I override the heart from the outside with an electrical current that forces it to contract. So I really wanted to know how the power levels they were applying to my back compared to that. No one had any idea. That bothered me.

By now the sensation had crossed into a twitchy buzz. "Don't be a hero," the attendant told me. "Let me know when you want me to stop turning it up."

Please. Bring it on.

Now it was a rasping, bee-stingy clatter of spiny impulses that sent my muscles into little disordered spasms.

"Just tell me when it's effective," she said. Then, as the stings became active prods with spear-points, "Don't try to be a hero." 

Too late. I'm trying for a record here. Your uncertainty only strengthens my resolve. 

Now it's a violent, spasming cascade of bright sparks, a little volcanic eruption 

"That's good," I said. I was feeling better already. Not my back - that was incredibly uncomfortable, almost intolerable - but my pride in my ability to endure pain. Having topped off at what I felt were impressive levels, I was looking forward to her dialing it back down. 

"Okay," she replied. "Relax and I'll be back in twenty minutes."