Avoid the ER on New Year’s Eve if You Want to Celebrate

Have to avoid the ER on New Year's Eve

Illustration by Breanna Cooke

I didn’t set out to hit the ER on New Year’s Eve. But a year-end visit to the chiropractor included a neck adjustment that sent me to the emergency room. It’s hardly a way to celebrate.

I tend to not have the best of luck with medical things. I caught poison ivy in downtown Washington D.C. I’ve had mono three times, even though you’re only supposed to get it once. Lasik eye surgery? Twice, in each eye, and I again wear glasses.

So it’s not surprising that something happened, yet I can’t help feeling my trip to the ER on New Year’s Eve was self-induced. I’ve tried many forms of alternative medicine, including acupuncture, Chinese herbs and an oxygen chamber, racking up a bill of more than $7,000. Yet I’d always been uncomfortable with the idea of a chiropractor after reading an article about a lady who had a stroke after a neck adjustment.

Pain in my left shoulder blade ultimately led me to a chiropractor a few years ago when I’d run out of other options. I’m not alone. About 20 million Americans visit chiropractors each year. On my initial visit, I asked about the article. I don’t recall the answer, only that I said to leave my neck alone.

I should have stuck with that plan.

Over a number of visits, I became increasingly comfortable. Slowly neck stretches were incorporated. Then, it just happened. A snapping sound as my head was turned the other direction.

Avoid the Neck Adjustment

“Did you just adjust my neck?” I doubt I would have ever said yes on my own accord, but I remember giggling on the way home, wondering why I’d been so concerned. My neck loose and mobile, I dismissed my own fear and mentally prepared for more. It became a bit of a running joke, how I used to be fearful but now was a fan.

It was revealed in October that Playboy model Katie May died after a chiropractor ruptured one of her arteries manipulating her neck.

My old fears resurfaced. I started discussing it with friends. I was looking for someone to reassure me “it’s ok to keep going.” That’s my downfall, listening to someone else instead of myself.

As the year roared to an end, I figured why not — go in for a last adjustment. I don’t know why I changed my mind. I wasn’t in pain.

My appointment was Dec. 30 at 11 a.m. Immediately after, I had a headache. “A headache is uncommon,” the chiropractor informed me. He then went on to talk about the model — saying “since you brought it up …” I hadn’t.

I know I can overly obsess and spin into a tizzy of anxiety. I was trying to remain calm as I studied the list of symptoms of a woman having a stroke.

Saturday morning and my head still hurt. I tried to read and couldn’t. The vision in my left eye was clearly messed up — a clear warning sign. With resentment — towards myself — I headed to the ER on New Year’s Eve.

CT Scan & Baby Aspirin

The doctor moved his finger around to test my responses. Normal. A CT Scan would see if the vertebral artery, which runs along the back of your head to the brain, had been damaged. CT clear, he advised me that an embolism likely was dislodged and now was blocking the flow of blood leading to my left eye.

I start a new regimen — one baby aspirin daily to breakup anything that may have dislodged during the adjustment. If my symptoms continue — which they have — I now go to an ophthalmologist this week.

My path in 2017 is clear — listen to my own instincts and block out other voices. After all, when you tell someone “the voices told me to do it” you sound crazy. And that’s not a good start to 2017.

Humor piece originally appeared in the Katy Trail Weekly.
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