I'd arrived about 20 minutes late. Everyone had finished stretching and were already doing cartwheels and flips one by one down the thick white line which spans the length of the gym at the Bras Brasah complex.

As usual, Shaun, our gymnastics coach, was nervously and attentively following every person, waiting to lend support should they not complete a rotation or accidentally start tumbling towards the wall. He is actually quite a great coach even though I'm often chaffing at the bit and giving him heart murmurs from trying new moves too quickly.

I reached into my bag and pulled out my camera since I was not going to be doing any gymnastics this Saturday afternoon. Actually, I intended to take some choice snapshots that I could rework in Adobe Photoshop to put on the new Jitterbugs Swingapore web site I have been working on. Have you seen it? If not, web over to http://www.extropia.com/Swingapore/.

Anyway, more importantly, there was not going to be any jumping around because my recurring back problem was acting up again and I was having trouble turning my head left or right. Meanwhile the fingers in my right hand were in a constant state of dull ouch as a result of the back problem.

Such is the life of a high stressed computer drone with the worst imaginable posture.

At any rate, Andrew quickly came up and asked me why I was not in line. Fortunately, when I told him what was wrong with my back, he replied with the name of a chiropractor off Orchard Road which he'd been to and had much success.

I suppose all Jitterbug/Lindy/Swing teachers have a set of sports injury business cards in their wallets.

. . .

While the roll of Kodak Gold whirred through the 30-minute mechanical dark room, I found my way to a pay phone and made an appointment. Fortunately, the office was easily accessible by bus.

. . .

Rob Wasserman is an American expat with strong Jewish features and a very aggressive, type-A demeanor which mirrors his style of chiropractic adjustment. His partner is Bruce Lee. So, needless to say, as I was sitting there being asked the usual questions, I was ready to get beaten up right from the start.

. . .

My problem begins with bad posture (I'm gonna go ahead and blame my mom for that one since I rarely get a chance to blame her for any life/personality/good-habit dysfunctions).

At any rate, over days and weeks of hunched-over mad computer coding, my vertebrae begin to slip out of place. This causes the muscles, tendons and ligaments around them to swell up. When this occurs, the normal movement afforded by the spine as a whole is restricted.

As it was explained to me, a normal spine uses all of its vertebrae when it bends or twists. Essentially, each vertebra is responsible for a "small" amount of bend. But when considered as a group, each small bend sums up to a significant one. In a healthy spine, no one vertebra takes a larger degree of stress when the spine bends. All strain is distributed equally.

However, as in my case, when the movement of vertebrae in the mid back are restricted because the tissue around them is swollen, the spine cannot use the lower vertebrae to aid in bending. Thus, the vertebrae in the upper and mid back are stressed out of proportion. In fact, the stress on those vertebrae increases as a geometric equation.

Of course, like anything in nature, the vertebrae do not handle the stress. Instead, they pass on the stress to whichever joints, tendons and muscles they can.

In my case, the stress of a bend is passed from spine to shoulders from the shoulders to the arms, and finally, from the arms to the forearm and fingers which cannot pass on the stress any further. Eventually, one develops carpal tunnel syndrome because the overstrained tendons in the forearm (which are being constantly flexed with each movement of the spine) simply give up and deteriorate.

So as a result of changing professions to computer work, I have had a constant, dull pain in my right hand for the last year. When it is bad, the pain can make swing dancing, rock climbing and writing with a pen unrealistic. However, for most of the time, the pain is just there, always there.

. . .

At any rate, this weekend was one of the bad times.

This time, it was not any one thing that had caused the latest skeletal crisis such as the last time when I did an ill-conceived back flip dive off the rocks over the Eel River. This time, I think it was just a summation of my over-booked, over-stressed, and under-relaxed lifestyle.

Between swing, rock climbing, work, freelance work, mandarin class, volleyball, and gymnastics, there is precious little time to give my frame a break. Eventually, something like this was bound to happen.

So I'd decided to go to see a chiropractor.

. . .

The first thing that Wasserman did was to test the strength of my arms from various positions. He said, "I am going to push your arm in such and such direction, and you just try to resist."

So he began with the left arm. No sweat. I've been lifting a little bit as part of my morning exercise, and he could not make me budge. The right arm was also strong.

Then he said, "Okay, you put your hand straight out and I am going to push down on your fingers. You should try to keep them straight." The left hand was okay, I kept pretty straight until he really started applying pressure and my fingers curled under his hand. He said "good" and then I lifted up the right arm.

Almost instantly my fingers crumbled. They were like rubber. I could not believe it. i thought for sure it was some sort've modern-day chiropractic charlatan trick. How could the two arms be so incredibly different. Well, I have repeated the experiment with others and myself and sadly, the tendons in my right arm have definitely deteriorated that much.

Then came the next shocker. With me lying on the bench, Wasserman said, "Did you know that your left leg is 3/4 of an inch shorter than your right?".

I said, "Uh, no."

He said, "Your spine is incredibly misaligned."

Oh that made me feel better. At this point I was really frightened. Rather than get better after the last few bouts at the chiropractor, my state had apparently continued to get worse and worse.

Anyway, the news was not totally disturbing. After a lengthy bone cracking session, Wasserman told me that he thought if I was religious about a series of stretching exercises he gave me, and i returned for one more session, things could get better.

. . .

So that is where I am now. I have hourly exercises to perform at work and I have been doing them semi-regularly.

This weekend I will be off to Thailand to see Soy's sister's wedding and get a Zoot Suit for swing. I'll write more later.

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