My chiropractic story goes back to when I was just a little girl, not when I first received chiropractic care, but when I desperately needed to and did not. Through all of my childhood and teen years, I was a gymnast. For those unfamiliar with the rigors of gymnastics, the commitment is high, the hours are long, and the physical stress is great. By the end of my career, I practiced about 20 hours a week plus competitions. Add in volleyball practice after school every day, and you could say that the physical stress on my body was far from average for a teenage girl.
By 16 years of age, standing at 5 feet 8 inches, the stress of volleyball and high level gymnastics took its toll and I began to suffer from severe, daily back pain. This pain was misdiagnosed for 6 months by my sports medicine doctor and I continued to practice and compete despite constant severe pain. I finally switched doctors and two days before my final state competition, I found out that I had multiple stress fractures in the last vertebrae of my spine. I can still perfectly remember this day. As I got into my mother’s car after school, she told me that my doctor had called with the results that it was fractured. She then said that she was supposed to tell me that it was my choice whether or not to compete but that there was a 100% chance that it would get worse and that every time I worked out I took the chance of fracturing the vertebrae in half. I competed, placed second and qualified for Regionals in Hawaii. After competing , my pain was at an all time high. I woke up with it and it increased throughout the day with normal teenager activity such as sitting in class and walking in the mall for just an hour. After six weeks of “rest” and then physical therapy, I was only slightly better although according to the medical world, I was “healed”.
I attempted one more year of competing only to suffer more pain and the terrible feeling of defeat as I recognized that my 12 years of hard work were over and I would never compete in college. To top it off, I faced daily pain that would interfere with enjoying a “normal” life and I was only 17 years old. At this time my medical doctor told me that I had instability and I would just have to suffer the pain and eventually need back surgery to stabilize the injured joints. I went on to college as a pre-med student. Eventually, I found a little relief through traditional osteopathic care, which allowed me to avoid daily pain, but I was still extremely limited in what activities I could enjoy without suffering for months after. For someone that was raised as a high-level athlete and enjoyed all kinds of physical activities, I was left feeling angry and depressed. It was the summer before my senior year of college that changed the rest of my life.
I suffered a severe flare-up that left me barely able to move and since my osteopath was out of town, I called up a new friend who was a chiropractor, looking for advice. He began working with me and I learned what it was like to function properly again. It took several months to recover from the years of stress and pain but eventually I felt as though I was capable of enjoying a normal life. More importantly, I discovered a path of healing that avoided unnecessary drugs and surgery, as well as gave answers when “conventional” health care had none, and found one of my callings in life. I still didn’t understand the entirety of chiropractic but I knew it was what I wanted to do. Once in chiropractic school I learned what it really meant to be healthy. I found a technique of chiropractic that worked best for me and started living a chiropractic wellness lifestyle. Not only did my back pain go away completely, allowing me to enjoy hiking, biking and dancing again, but my symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome disappeared, my motion sickness became almost non-existent, and I very rarely found myself “sick”. I now knew what it felt like to experience “optimal health” and enjoy the life it allowed me to have.
What I ask you now to consider is “How would my life have been different had I received chiropractic care at 16 years of age when the back pain started, or the quality of life as a whole if I received care throughout my childhood before I could have suffered in the first place?”. “How would your life be different if you started experiencing optimal health?” “How would your children’s lives change if they too, experienced optimal health from the beginning?”