Stand up for your health

It was in Saigon, in June 1999, that I first felt the knot at the base of my lumbar spine. Thirty-one years old, I’d never worried much about taking care of my body. In retrospect, nine months of hunching over my laptop, without a desk in that house Mai and I rented, had done something. I remember, in our last days in Vietnam, hobbling off an escalator and approaching Andrew Steer for a handshake. As head of the World Bank mission there, he was about to keynote a conference at which I would later speak too. I tried to smile and act normal as an invisible hand grabbed my muscles and ligaments from behind and clenched. But the knot went away after we came back to the States, and I forgot about it. Occasionally it returned… I felt it the year I ported my three-year-old to daycare everyday on the back of my bike. I figured out not to pull so hard on the handlebars when accelerating. That helped. But sometimes I could barely put on my socks. Then three years ago, my right thigh started cramping whenever I stood up from a chair. This time, ignoring it did not work. I found a chiropractor across the street from CGD. He treated for a pulled hamstring. A week of staying horizontal and getting localized ultrasonic stimulation did no good, so he sent me to his “rock star” colleague, Barrie Pilgrim. Dr. Pilgrim soon diagnosed me with a bulging or herniated lumbar disc. If I recall rightly, the giveaway was Kemp’s test. Sitting on his examination table, I stuck my legs...