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Posted on 06-08-2017

My first blog. Those of you who know me, know that I love to explain to people why chiropractic works the way it works for neck pain, back pain, headaches, and the large variety of other musculoskeletal complaints that chiropractors treat. My first blog has nothing to do with that. I was deleting some files off my computer and came across a paper a wrote for a philosophy class while at Palmer College of Chiropractic. If you ever wondered why I chose to become a chiropractor, here is the paper I wrote 20+ years ago that answered that question. 

Why Chiropractic?

You want to know why I chose to become a chiropractor. With nearly 200 students in this class, I realize that your interest is probably more academic than personal, so at first, I thought to myself – just write something down and get your grade and move on. Then, I had a change of heart. You have placed an opportunity before me. An opportunity to carefully craft an answer that I have been asked many times in the last year and I am sure I will be asked many more times in the future. Perhaps even, that is the true purpose of asking the question:

Why Chiropractic?

In my short time at Palmer, I have been amazed by the number of students and doctors who have a miraculous story relating to their decision to become a chiropractor. Chiropractic saved my life. Chiropractic saved my loved one’s life. Chiropractic cured my asthma. Chiropractic cured my infertility. These are just a few of the examples I have heard. Sometimes I wonder if there is any truth to these stories, or is the person just trying to one-up old D.D. Palmer, whose first adjustment cured a man experiencing years of deafness.

Before attending Palmer, I was a successful optical engineer for five years. The money was good and getting better. I also had the type of engineering job that most engineers dream of – I actually did design work. I did not sit around all day punching keys on a computer all day like many of the friends I graduated with. In fact, I have two patents, one for a fiber optic security system and another for a fiber optic microphone. (I am especially proud of the fiber optic microphone since it is completely undetectable by any and all methods of electronic surveillance). Many of my colleagues, especially those skeptical of chiropractic, had their own answers to the question. “I will bet the money is a lot better.”

But my answer is not based upon money. Nor is it due to having suffered through some horrific ailment only to be cured by chiropractic and then feel the need to dedicate the rest of my life to the profession. My answer is much more humble.

My answer is based upon the rekindling of old desires by a form of healthcare that is dedicated to finding and correcting the cause of health problem whenever possible. Having grown up in Kirksville, Missouri, the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, I could relate to the style of health care practiced by the old-time osteopaths. I grew up in the era when the osteopaths still practiced according to the ideas of Dr. Andrew T. Still, the founder of osteopathic medicine. Before the profession could not be distinguished from the traditional allopathic approach of the MDs. Our family doctor was an osteopath. Dr. Nancy, as we called her, was our primary care doctor, pediatrician, my mother’s obstetrician, and the one who kept my mother out of surgery for years through her use of osseous spinal manipulation.

My rekindling came in the form of chronic knee pain. For nearly 2 years, my right knee hurt for days after physical activity. The right knee would become inflamed, stiff and generally achy after weightlifting or even standing for long periods of time. And forget about watching a movie or going to a play when I could not find an aisle seat allowing me to straighten my right leg out completely. The darn knee would swell up and become stiff and painful and hinder any ability to enjoy the entertainment. Numerous visits to the doctor were not helpful. A sports doctor told me he could not figure out what was wrong with my knee.

A trip to an orthopedic doctor was even worse. He examined my knee and then had the audacity to tell me to my face that nothing was wrong with it. I stated something about the fact that it was inflamed 80% of the time. His response was simply that my knee was not inflamed on that particular day. So, using my engineering logic, I asked him if inflammation would help him in his diagnosis because I could bring him in inflamed knee the next day after a good workout. His next answer was almost as bad as his first: stop working out. Now I can tell you with all honesty that I have never been an athlete, but at that time in my life I definitely look like I could have played an athlete on TV; therefore, not working out was not a viable option. When I pressed him to answer why I should not work out, he quickly replied, “… because there is obviously something wrong with your knee…” The conversation quickly escalated downhill from there.

Right now, you may be asking yourself “Is he ever going to get to the point?” Well, you asked 200 students to write a paper titled “Why Chiropractic?” and you did not put a page limit on it, so what can I say.

How did chronic knee pain rekindle my desire to be a health care provider? Simple. An acquaintance at the gym, who just happened to be a chiropractor, overheard my discussion concerning my orthopedic visit and he had his own theories. He asked me to remove my shoes and walk around the gym. Honestly, I doubted he would be any better at diagnosing my problem, especially since he spent the whole time looking at my feet, but he was really nice and I decided to humor him. However, this doctor was different. He discussed biomechanics of the knee, foot, and ankle joints and how each can affect the other in terms that an engineer could understand. The explanation made sense. The diagnosis of over-pronation also made sense. I visited him the next week, he fit me for orthotics, and would not you know it, my knee pain quickly and completely resolved. I have not experienced knee pain since (nearly 6 years).

I also made a point of telling Dr. Johnson about this pain I had had been having at the base of my skull for the last year. My primary care physician, whom I really liked, told me it was just stress. I knew it had nothing to do with stress and went on with my life thinking I would have to live with it just like my blasted knee. Dr. Johnson relieved that as well. He had earned my trust and I started sending him every person I could think of with musculoskeletal complaints.

But the real turning point was after I watched him treat a friend for headaches and migraines. The frequency of headaches was nearly five per week lasting most of the day and the migraines had been occurring once per month. This had been going on for nearly a year. After the first treatment, it was nearly six months before she experienced another headache. And today, nearly six years later, I believe she has not experienced another migraine.

I began to ask questions; probably the kind that only someone with engineering mind can ask. Luckily for me, and for Dr. Johnson, he understood his anatomy, physiology, and philosophy of chiropractic well. I was hooked.

So why not osteopathy? Well, any good engineer will do his research before he makes a decision. My research showed that osteopathy has changed in the last 20 years to the point that it is indiscernible from the medical profession. Gone was the focus on prevention and holistic measures to optimum health. Gone was the focus on causation, not symptom-based care. It was not a hard decision to choose chiropractic.

Now, I know that this paper is not dramatic. No stories of mysterious crippling ailments solved by the wonders of chiropractic. I am not a third or fourth generation chiropractor wanting to follow in the footsteps of my great-great-great grandparent that was arrested for practicing chiropractic, but also managed to cure an entire population of a deadly plague that would have wiped the town off the map if it had not been for him. And honestly, it did not take long to write since I have told the story several times to friends and strangers. But it is true. And it is my story. And I have been able to sit in some of the most uncomfortable chairs known to man here in the classrooms at Palmer with nary a complaint of knee pain, whether it is straight or bent.

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