With Motrin and a Prayer

by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen

With Motrin and a Prayer

First of all, I am not sure if the term is “jerry rigged” or as I saw it written recently, “jury rigged.” I Googled it and there seems to be some sort of cyberspace debate about the etiology of the phrase. Nevertheless, I think you know what it means. And for those of you who do not, imagine something built haphazardly: a little crooked, a bit unstable, slightly squeaky, a few pieces loose or hanging here and there. What does this have to do with health? Read on, my blog posse.

A patient was getting adjusted yesterday. I asked him how he had slept the night before. His spine felt out of whack and I figured something was up. His wife had given birth to their daughter just a few weeks ago, and I knew a restful night of sleep has not been on tap for a long time and probably won’t be on the nightly menu until some time in the distant future….like maybe in 18 years when the baby grows up and graduates from college. Given the sleep situation, I also knew the patient and his wife were sleeping (or trying to anyway) in separate bedrooms for the time being . Wife, beagle, baby in one room. Hubby alone in another. The patient told me that his wife had called him on his cell phone from the room next door. The bed frame had broken. Mom, beagle and baby on a caved in bed? Uh oh. In the middle of the night the tool box was unearthed and bed frame reconstruction began. The makers of Nyquil, melotonin, Tylenol PM, and Ambien would not suggest this as a restful nocturnal activity, no doubt.

My patient said, “Had I just assembled the bed the correctly the first time around, this would have never happened.” Agreed. I couldn’t help, in my usual Dr. C way, to see the parallels of bed frame construction and health. If we just take care of ourselves properly from the get go, health calamities wouldn’t happen in the first place. Or least they’re less likely to occur. This is why I take care of children. It’s a lot easier nurturing healthy kids than repairing broken adults. But no, we jerry rig (or jury rig…whatever…) our health. Messed up knee? Here, take enough Ibuprofin to destroy your stomach. If that doesn’t work, put one of those band things under your knee cap to bungee cord it in place. Still out of luck? Cut that damn knee cap out of there and let the orthopedist put a new metal one in there instead. Factory made must be better than God made, right? We hope and pray for a while that the problem goes away. Then we put our faith in chemical concoctions to numb our senses. After that, we tie things together with rubber, screws and wire.

All in all, no matter what you do, your knee is still slightly out of whack and it’s a matter of time until the hoping and praying become boring, the chemicals wear off, and the screws corrode. Back to the point: Had you just taken care of yourself in the first place, this fiasco may not have happened. Had you addressed the issue when you heard the first alarm bells, this fiasco may not have happened. Jerry rig all you want if that seems like the more practical solution. Or, do the best you can taking care of yourself and see the quality of your life improve dramatically.  Yep, we are all in the trenches. This time, listen to your body. It’s talking to you all of the time.

I hope my patient finds the IKEA assembly instructions to his bed and that he and his wife, beagle and baby have a restful sleep tonight.

PS: I just found out my patient’s sister-in-law (my assistant) fixed the bed. And that’s why I hired my assistant to be my assistant and not her brother-in-law.