Queering the Triathlete (and Other Discomforts)

A Melancholy Zebra determined to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Slip-Crack-Pop and T Minus 32 Hours

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When I walked into my chiropractor’s office yesterday for a pre-race tune-up (more like an overhaul) and taping, she looked at me for a moment, slumped a little, and said, “You don’t look like yourself. I can tell something is wrong. What’s going on?” She was about to cry. Freaking empaths. Stick two of us in a room…

It took her double-time to re-adjust all of my joints- my pelvis was cocked by several degrees most notably. How the hell that even happens, I don’t know, but she smirked at me and said, “You know your right hip bone isn’t even close to touching the table, right?” No, I had no clue.


I first went to see her a month and a half ago because the middle of my back wouldn’t crack. Maybe that sounds silly, but that spot was getting really painful. Most of my joints feel a bit off at any given moment. Most of them sit a notch below an ache. If anyone has been in a room with me for more than 30 minutes, they’ll have heard me pop all of my fingers, my wrists, elbows, knees, neck, ankles, and perhaps lower back with a good twist. After maybe five hours, I’ll have had to pop at least one shoulder or hip. It makes that off feeling go away for a little while. Sometimes of course I’ll wake up with a shoulder or hip clearly subluxed and have to go on a search-and-rescue mission (I.e. twist around and push against walls or floors until a different *POP* happens, but the usual cracking is just for that unsettling off-ness.

But that middle back area (the “heart” something or other, as J calls it– not you, original J. Hm. Clearly first letters of names is a bad idea. I know too many Js and Ks and As.) had locked the fuck up. For nearly two months it felt like someone was holding my thoracic spine in a clamp so it couldn’t twist and move, and dammit I wanted it to pop.

When she adjusted it that first time… Damn. It was better than an orgasm. So much tension in my core just disappeared, and I wanted to cry from relief. Poor J. She had to sit down after feeling that lock just collapse. I don’t quite understand people trained in “energy work.” (J is trained in chiropractic things, nutrition, physical therapy, and reiki. It’s the reiki-esque things I don’t quite understand.) I suppose she felt that same relief I did, and having a sudden A-ha! moment when one realizes the intensity of the pain and tension someone was carrying by the intensity of the relief is a bit dizzying. I’m just guessing, though. But I was addicted the minute those vertebrae loosened, and my food budget takes another kick in the pants. My joints (and my spirit, honestly) feel so much better after seeing J, even if only for a little while, though, so it’s worth it.


Anyway. Her uncanny insights continued. (Remind me to write about my contortion mentor sometime. She is mind-blowingly insightful. I’ve never burst into heaving tears from a stretch before or managed it outside of her house yet.) I gave J a brief run-down of the top three concerns–because I don’t need to explain a deep empathic sensitivity to her–while she cleaned off her equipment before sitting down to start.

The first thing she does is check my wrists/elbows. Each time she’s done this (maybe 4 times so far), something is out of place such that my finger strength is minimal.

Oof. I’m nervous writing this.

So, J tested the nerves, they were fucked, so she moved to start warming up the muscle insertions so she could click my elbow and wrist bones back into place. I felt her pause almost instantly when she touched my arm. She knew. Finally she admitted: “I was afraid I was right. You did, didn’t you? It’s been that bad.” I should have been more surprised to hear her say so, but somehow it seemed normal that she’d realize what I’d done, that old addictions cycle through again. She’d know I slipped. And I had. Did.

The worst part is that I’m not bothered by it. Or I’m bothered by the lack of bother. I can’t explain without going into TMI Territory, but I somehow found a way to circumvent the usual annoyances of my Zebra Skin’s shitty healing processes, so getting into the pool next week is not a dodgy endeavor, so the complacency has set in. Complacency is bad. Though my cycle is typically 2-8 weeks followed by 11-25 months of nothing. So, I know it will stop soon. (If someone says “wagon,” I swear to GodDangIt…) I’ll still argue that a trashed liver is a worse fate. 

Most likely I should find someone or something to shame me out of the downswing earlier than normal. Most likely I should tell K. But it isn’t K’s fault, and I’m afraid she will think it is. It could never be. 


More than anything, I need to put on my Bitch Britches and keep my face forward for the next two days. I can’t care if anyone stares or comments during the race. It isn’t their business; I have some hell to raise on that course. I have a PR to beat and some mental fortitude to build. Can’t be having anyone else’s socially conditioned shock distracting me from pushing through the discomfort to come! It takes enough mental exertion to keep running without someone else running their nosy mouth. If they can say something to me, they aren’t biking or running fast enough. If I can respond, then I’m probably not either.

(I’ll see J after the race to realign whatever I throw off. I admit– it is nice knowing someone who understands what it means to be a human tuning fork with janky joints. And I’ll see K and maybe have the balls to admit to entering the downswing of the cycle.) 

Sincerely, Me.

.

P.S. This will be my first totally unsupported Big Race. I’ve been lucky enough to have someone there to cheer me on, to grab things I forgot, to remind me to drink water, and to help me collect my shit from transition while I go find the massage tent to start mitigating damage. This time for the first time, no one. I feel like a ghost, drifting through swaths of body-marked people that are Surely Better Than Me. (If an Ironman Tahoe or Kona t-shirt is meant to be intimidation tactic, it totally works on me. Maybe I should walk around wearing my IMFL shirt to counter their shirts, but Imposter Syndrome applies in more places than academia.)

I’m more bummed by this solo endeavor than I ought be, but I had some people initial my arm in Sharpie before I left the island, and I’m going to go over the initials again to make sure they’re fresh and bright on race day.

The ones I could wrangle before my flight.

The ones I could wrangle before my flight.

If I can’t have someone cheering me on the course, at least I can carry their initials on my arm to remind me (visibly, tangibly, undeniably) that somewhere someone is cheering.

I’m not nervous about how I end up ranking. Not at all. Do kindly fuck off, my dear Sir/Ma’am.

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