On May 5, 2012, I shall walk in my fourteenth consecutive 500 Festival MiniMarathon®. We have a surprise for Civil Discourse Now with coverage of the Mini. I shall not miss a Mini. Last year I walked the 13.1 miles after having been diagnosed, the previous weekend, with pneumonia. After I completed my first Mini in 1999, I swore to myself I never would miss a Mini—unless I was dead or the MS finally had beaten me.
MS? Why the vehemence about the Mini? You need to know the story.
In January, 1994, I began to experience numbness below my left knee cap. My left foot was nearly completely numb. Above that and to just below the knee, my leg tingled. I thought there was a problem with circulation. Several mornings I stood on my head for a few minutes. I had read that Jack Kerouac had done that when he had circulatory problems in his legs.
One night, as we watched TV and I rubbed my left leg, Sarah (my wife), asked, "What’s wrong with your leg?" American males—as a general rule—have two responses two illness. We say nothing and deal with it or we whine. On this, however, I shrugged and described how my leg felt and for how long (a couple of weeks by that point) I had been experiencing it. She insisted I go to see our brother-in-law, Brian, who is a chiropractor.
Some of the best "healers" I have met are chiropractors. My mother was a registered nurse and was prejudiced against chiropractic. (In Kokomo, where I was born and raised, the local pronunciation when I was a kid was "choiropractor." I have no idea why.) Before I met Brian, I only knew of chiropractic as one of the elements of damages in personal injury cases. (That was the 1990s; I do appeals now.) In ‘92 he asked me if I ever had been adjusted. When I said no, he told me to lie, prone, on the floor. He adjusted me, and I felt great.
Since that first adjustment, leading up to 1994, I had—and still do today—sought adjustments from him. I also ask him questions about general medical matters, for two reasons: 1) He did not charge me (and I am a cheap bastard) and 2) I respect him more highly than most MDs I have known.
Brian was concerned about my condition—said it might be a pinched nerve, but he wanted to be sure—so I ended up, via chiropractor referral, at the office of a neurologist. By now I had trouble walking. My left leg had given out a couple of times—as in below the knee, my leg folded. Sarah had to drive. The weather was horrible, that stretch in January, 1994, in which we set the record for lows at 25 below. Falling down any time is a bummer, but in those conditions especially so. The neuro’s office was in a clinic attached to an Indy hospital. My appointment was set for whenever I could get there. So we went there straightaway.
The neurologist reinforced my attitudes about MDs—and I have met some great medical doctors since, and knew some great ones previously—but I did my undergrad at DePauw and was around a lot of pre-meds. Those people could be vicious when it came to grade curves. The neuro did some simple tests—horizontal gaze nystagmus, heel-to-toe walk, lean-the-head-back-close-the-eyes-and-try-to-touch-the nose (whatever it otherwise is called)—all of which, apparently, I flunked.
He asked me where my wife was. Looking back, I should have realized that is not a question you want to hear asked by a doctor who just has examined you. I told him she was out in the waiting room and I would get her. I started to get up, but he told me he to remain seated. He left the room.
"Civil Discourse Now" is shot at Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Avenue, Indianapolis. That’s in Broad Ripple.