Textbook Joan

You might remember a while back when I was suffering neck pain.

On my second visit to a spinal specialist, he waved my MRI scans at me.

‘I knew it!’ he grinned. ‘Textbook case! Adjacent segment degeneration!’

‘I’m a textbook case?’

The surgeon explained that a third of patients who had the same neck surgery that I had when I was 12 years old developed this disease. On the scan, he pointed out the dark spots which showed that extra pressure on one of my discs was wearing the disc away faster than it could regenerate.

‘It’s exactly what I thought at our first appointment’, he said with satisfaction. ‘What I need to do is refer you to physiotherapy to strengthen your neck.’

So for the next two months, I visited Sha, a friendly physio from New Zealand. It was really great, actually. I learned from her exercises that not only reduced the soreness around my neck and shoulders, but also got rid of my headaches.

At my final session, I described to Sha a problem I was having with one of the exercises I was meant to do.

‘In the dumbell upright row, my arm is fine… but I’m having trouble with my right knee. It feels weak and I’m afraid to lock it, which makes it hard to lift the weights. I’ve had problems with this knee for a long time.’

Sha moved my knee caps around and felt them click. ‘They’re very loose,’ she commented.

She made me stand and examined my legs. Soon she started giggling.


‘You’re a textbook case!’ she said. ‘Exactly like in a textbook. See how your knees don’t line up with your feet? You’ve got flat feet. It means that sometimes your knee cap doesn’t track properly…’

‘Textbook,’ I repeated. I had heard this before.

So now I have an extra set of exercises for my second unoriginal problem. The good thing about suffering all these creaks and aches is that now I have real and pressing reasons to go to the gym. The alternative is disablement by torticollis and creaky knees.


  1. Yap! It's 3088.. says:

    I think it’s serious stuff isn’t it. you’ve masked it pretty well in the way you wrote it!

    hope you will get well soon. then we can do a half marathon race with Bettina next time.

  2. joanium says:

    The original surgery was serious and the way the surgeon this time described my problem sounded serious to me at least. But he didn’t seem particularly worried. Maybe it’s serious but common. Or maybe it’s serious but simple to solve! It was the first time I’ve ever been to a physiotherapist and I was very impressed. I wish I could go to one regularly so she can diagnose all my aches and pains.

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