All posts tagged: Michelle Castleberry

Bless These Backs


This feature is part of our print and online portfolio of writing from the immigrant farmworker community. Read more online or in Issue 26.

Buckets of freshly picked apples

Part of a day’s harvest, 1985.

Bradley County, Arkansas

I stood behind the orthopedic specialist and watched the giant monitor where my MRI reports glowed. He traced the contours of my spine, his index finger waving back and forth down the screen. I had gotten his name after a months-long battle with neck and back pain. What started as fire and numbness in my right arm grew into a welter of spasm and neuropathy. This doctor was known as an oracle of back pain. He bragged of being able to guess how people used their bodies just from reading his screens.

The exhaustion of having a nameless, and, therefore, untreatable problem was eroding my spirit. I needed him to find the answer. As he squinted, he rattled off his wins, spotting the bone-wear patterns of golfers, softball players, fiddlers, and software developers. He stopped to identify the small bumps on each vertebra: bone spurs. It felt like he was stalling. Had I stumped him?           

Bless These Backs