My friend Stella Unpronounceableadopolous and her husband Dr. Mensch came to visit a while back. Far enough back that I was flat on my back, still in the depths of ruptured disk-induce pain.
You should really see a surgeon Dr. Mensch said.
You should really meet my friend Silke Stella Unpronounceableadopolous said.
Since the surgeon had a four-week wait for an appointment but Silke was available that Tuesday, she got me first. She even made a house call.
Hello, I am Silke Silke said, arriving at our house exactly on time. Because Silke is German. A German-Immersed-in-Fitness-Training, aka G.I.F.T. May I take your picture?
At this point, I'd been MRIed, ultrasounded, and electro-stimulated. I wasn't about to be phased by something that can be done at any Kmart with a bad floral backdrop and a shag-carpeted hand rest.
So I let Silke the G.I.F.T take my picture. Actually, she took a bunch of them. Then she whipped out a clipboard and started taking notes on every aspect of my posture.
Which it turns out sucked.
My posture, I mean. Her notetaking didn't suck. It was immaculate. She is, after all, German.
And her Duetsche-ishly detailed and diligent denoting clearly revealed that somewhere along the way, I had become as crook-limbed as a contortionist flying coach class.
Luckily, Silke the G.I.F.T could offer more than a packet of peanuts and a complimentary beverage.
Because Silke the G.I.F.T gave me the gift of Egoscue.
(Pronunciation guide: Egoscue sorta rhymes with He toss shoe, appropriate enough given that my inability to tie my shoes had been leading me to toss everything from footwear to hissy fits for quite some time).
Egoscue is not some Eastern European method of torture smuggled out across the Alps.
It was actually smuggled out of San Diego. By Arnold Palmer.
And it's not torture. It's just postural alignment. Which you attain by doing a bunch of exercises with charming monikers such as Hooklying Gluteal Contractions and Frog Pull-overs.
Really, frog pull-over. The closest I'll ever come to my childhood dream of dressing in Garanimals.
(Not to be confused with my adult dream of decorating in animal print, which I am achieving quite admirably).
Silke the G.I.F.T. spent a couple hours teaching me my exercises, which she told me I had to do every morning.
Which I did.
And which--unlike the prescription painkillers, the steroid tapers, the over-the-counter NSAID, and the $1000+ worth of physical therapy--actually worked.
Four days later, I rode my bike twenty miles. Two weeks later, Silke the G.I.F.T came back to take more notes and give me new exercises. Then another week later, she moved back to Germany. But by that point, I'd been to see the surgeon but realized I was improved enough not to need to go under the knife.
Besides, Silke the G.I.F.T. left me in the hands of another Egoscue practioner. Who has been slowly but surely getting me back to a fully functioning back.
Moral of the story: if you didn't believe the American healthcare system is completely screwed up, ponder this: the warmth and sympathy of a German was the best thing that happened to me during this entire medical odyssey. This is not a concept that comes easily to members of my tribe.
But I suppose it's better to have one's simplistic associating of all things German with the Nazis ruptured than to have one's L5-s1 disk ruptured. Henceforth, I swear, I'll stop being so catty when it comes to Krauts.
Okay, maybe not. But at least I'm parodying with impeccable posture.