Thursday, October 31, 2013

Super Ninja Neck Snap

I see my chiropractor on Mondays.
He bounces his fingers along my spine, lightly, barely pausing as he presses
the offending vertebrae, muttering,
“L4, T12 C7, C4, C3, C2,”
He stands behind me, cradles the crown of my head in one hand, my jaw in the other
and twists.
The CRACK resounds, and leaves me shaky.
I think about highly trained assassins and wonder
what the difference is
between the angle of relief and the angle of death.
10 degrees? Less?
I ask my chiropractor, and it turns out
they never discussed this at chiropractor school,
It was assumed there would be no death snaps,
like in hair-cutting school they assume no one will get stabbed in the eye with scissors.
Fair enough.
That crack is loud.
Subsequent internet research reveals that ending a person with a single swift twist of the neck, is much harder than one might think
from watching Die Hard, multiple episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and that scene in A Long Kiss Goodnight where Geena Davis kills the deer.
According to one website (with no listed outside sources), it takes between 900 and 1500 Newtons to fracture a C2 vertebrae.
According to another website, a Newton—a term of which I have no recollection from high school physics—is the amount of force needed to accelerate one kilogram of mass at a rate of one kilometer per second squared.
Another website—referred to since it’s hard to visualize those words that start with kilo—says a Newton might be compared to the weight of a single quarter-pound hamburger.
Which is also difficult to visualize. 900 quarter-pounders torqueing a neck? Is that 300 McDonald’s paper bags? does three burgers per bag seem reasonable? could four fit? or would  the bags no longer fold securely and spill open as you tried to stack them on the side of someone’s face?
In terms conceptualizing speed and force it might be more helpful to know that most C2 fractures happen as results of car accidents.spine
My chiropractor is not so speedy or forceful as a car wreck.
My inner wanna-be-poet likes the idea that the difference between life and death is only a few degrees.
But this is not the metaphor for it.
There is also the matter of some 1400 Newtons.

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