So, I’ve had this pinched nerve in my shoulder. Pain shoots straight up my neck and down my arm and my last two fingers go numb. It’s better when I am seated or lay down, but walking around really aggravates it and it becomes rather unbearable. Subsequently, I become rather unbearable and extra whiny unless I’m sitting down. My boyfriend is a lucky man, isn’t he?
So said boyfriend made an appointment for me to see a friend of his who specializes in this kind of thing. That appointment was two nights ago. This wasn’t your typical chiropractors visit. First, it was at a pizzeria way up in the mountains. At ten o’clock at night. This guy runs his family pizza restaurant as his full time job and practices sports therapy on the side. There is a little room upstairs above the ovens and dining room with a chiropractors table and books and papers everywhere that serves as the treatment office. The patrons are mostly guys in their early 20s who come in to socialize and have a beer and look at each others clothes (a national past time here in Italy). Anyway, we arrived, said our greetings, got looked up and down by the patrons then boyfriend, the treatment guy and me all hoofed it upstairs.
Once in the treatment room, I took off my jacket. I had a tank top on underneath for easy access to my entire shoulder and arm. Specialist guy motioned for me to take that off too. I took my arm out of my tank top and bra strap. He motioned again – off! I looked at my boyfriend – am I getting naked here? Boyfriend says yes, take it all off. So I am sitting there, nude from the waist up, on the massage table or whatever it is, while these guys have a conversation about my pinched nerve and how it’s related to my now three times broken collarbone. OK, people here are comfortable with nakedness, and I don’t really care, so not a huge deal so far. I just want my shoulder fixed. I’m just sitting there naked while they move my arm around to discuss where the pinch is originating and where pain is transmitting across my shoulder and down my arm. In the US, words would be an effective method to convey this information. But conversation in general is impossible for Italians without a hands on approach.
Next, I lay face down and treatment guy starts manipulating nerves in my arm and neck. He keeps telling me to relax, which I find difficult when someone is raking their fingers over ouchie areas. Fortunately, he quickly gets a couple things snapped into the right places, then has me sit up. This is where I was asked to perform drill team moves while sitting on the table, half nude. Arms straight out in front. Look back and forth with arms in crucifixion position. Reach over my head and wiggle my fingers. Arms out again with eyes closed. Squeeze thumbs insides fists. Did I mention I was half nude? At this point treatment guy starts asking my boyfriend where his girlfriend is. Meaning, my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Perhaps he assumed I am comfortable doing naked gymnastics for all of my friends, as well as people who are not doctors? Heck, in that case, we should have just carried the table downstairs into the main dining room since so all the patrons could enjoy the show as well. Or maybe he did figure out I was the girlfriend and he just didn’t care? Either way, I’d say this experience wins the awkward award.
But it worked. And while I didn’t get paid for my performance, it was still an excellent trade off.