Hugs Are Expensive

By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

Yep, yesterday I got yet another expensive hug. $110 to be precise. And costly, as well, in terms of time. I will need a half day out of the office to sync up with the doctor’s schedule. Because I can’t afford the cash or the time just now it also means I will be living in considerable pain for quite a while and that translates into here comes crabby. My poor family.

Ironically, a neighbor gave my sisters and I the moniker Huggin Duggans a number of years ago. So it seems we are doomed. We are, by nature, very affectionate gals. But we are by design so much better suited to a firm  handshake, possibly amplified with both hands being used and then put over the top with a knowing and soulful gazing into the recipient’s eyes. As the oldest of the 3 sisters I am increasingly finding even that to be too much. The arthritis in my hands makes even a mid-level firm hand shake so painful that tears form. I choose to think that I have advanced to the highest level of greeting – a bow to the divinity of The Other – with a whispered Namaste just below breath.

hugging joseph c+a

Bad habits start young. Aunt Clare and Aunt Annie. Duggan Huggin nephew Joseph at the Indiana Dunes, Summer 1990. How do you spell a lifetime of chiropractic care?

So I am asking you, please, stop hugging me. I promise I will have buttons made. Something like NO HUGS PLEASE. Or, I ONLY ACCEPT GENTLE HUGS GENTLEMEN. But that would require a large and not stylish button. Maybe just the word HUG enclosed in the now-understood-by-all-diagonally-slashed circle. And the problem of killer hugs is not endemic to men alone. I have been misaligned, subluxed, and dislocated by some of the most feminine gals out there. Short ladies are my particular bane. I call them the monkeys because they grab me around the neck TIGHTLY, hang on to me and swing. And because I am a particularly frugal person and for a few more weeks an uninsured person, I see dollar signs when certain women approach me. Everything goes in to car wreck slow motion as I silently scream Oh My God No Here She Comes And She Is Going To Decapitate Me!!! And it is going to cost me $110 and a big chunk of time.

I have a bad neck. Actually, I have a glass neck. I’ve been in plenty of fender benders and sustained more than my fair share of whiplash injuries. I was handling all of that pretty well until a bit more than a decade ago I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury from acute post-concussive syndrome that has left me just shy of assisted living. Annie and Clare, who live with me and lovingly take care of so much for me, would probably say I already live in assisted living. They the unpaid caregivers and car drivers and hand holders and get me safely down the stairs and across the street gals.

So yes, I have a glass spine, from my atlas to my ass. But I also have a tremendously responsible lifestyle. That’s right: extensive and proper supplementation; an anti-inflammatory diet; regular exercise for strength and agility; and very high end chiropractic care that involves cranial-sacral manipulation performed while I lay on a far infrared pad embedded with healing amethyst crystals and followed by acupuncture. No run-of-the-mill bone cracker here. Sophisticated, state-of-the-art, and expensive. And effective, as folks NEVER perceive me as an individual living with a profound brain injury. They don’t see the stuttering, slurred speech, jangled memory, impaired vision, tottering, doddering mess I become following a power hug. And they never foot the bill.

I think as a nation of huggers we either have to stop now and follow the example of some other air-kissing culture or we have to get educated about the human spine and just how much vice grip torque compression fully rotated rib dislocating good loving it can take. I accept my role in this. I know I still extend the arms wide; even as I am pleading internally – please be gentle with me. I know that lots of folks hug responsibly and gently and I know that there are times when a kind and gentle hug is just the best medicine. But folks if you are in the mood for a bear hug then I have to point you firmly towards the North Woods – there are no bears here.

At a recent gathering of high school classmates Clare was taken down by a well-meaning fellow and I know he would feel just awful to know how much she has suffered and spent. Only her closest family and friends recall the broken neck that left Clare bed-ridden for the better part of her first year out of college. It was a terrifying experience of the power of a simple fender bender for our entire family. This particular small accident almost left Clare paralyzed for life. We got lucky with that one.

But when I saw Clare the morning following her class outing I immediately feared the worst these many years later. She could not turn her head, her eyes narrowed and would not fully open, she could not breathe deeply at all and even shallow breaths hurt. Off to the spinal specialist we went. It was a profound rotation (thank God no fracture) of her cervical spine and a painful dislocation of some ribs. It has required 3 return visits and Clare has been hampered from working full-time at one of the busiest seasons of the year for our small family business. Money lost, lost, lost. All in the name of love? I think not.

I think when we embrace each other, we have to remember to give and not take. Give affection and support and appreciation; but gently, instead of actually taking my breath away. Yesterday I hugged our letter carrier. It was the first time I had seen her since the tragic injury and then untimely death of her beloved husband. In her grief she was crushingly strong and I have the dislocated rib to prove it. I should have extended a loving hand with a $110 cash inside it. It would probably have served both our families better.

Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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3 Responses to “Hugs Are Expensive”

  1. Mary Enright-Olson says:

    Completely understand, Mary. When we meet I will give you an enthusiastic hug from at least twelve inches away.
    Have you thought of encasing yourself in bubble wrap?

    • Mary Duggan says:

      Hi Mary! I have come to the conclusion that I am the worst offender of all. Since posting this blog I have caught myself initiating so many hugs that I am completely frustrated. They are just so instinctual; but I hope I am AT LEAST not “bear” hugging. Happy Holidays, Mary

    • Mary Duggan says:

      Just a quickie, Mary. I was aghast at this years OOAK Show to discover that I am the world’s biggest pursuer of inappropriate hugs. My faithful readers were all approaching me with the greatest caution, some of them even stepping up with hands tucked in pockets, only to be met by me – arms wide open for hugging. I AM IMPOSSIBLE. Hugs, Mary 🙂

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