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Why Chiropractic? Part 2.

Trusting the Healing Process

Dad on tractor 1953

My dad on his first Ferguson tractor hitched up to the manure spreader.

Wow! What a great response to Part 1. Thanks for all the great feedback and with it came many questions so I’ll do my best to address some of the most relevant ones. Let’s go back in time a little and talk about some of the shaping events of my youth that opened the door to chiropractic. Chiropractic, after all, is a big topic, much bigger than most realize. An important chiropractic concept that is essential to own, if a chiropractor is to be successful, is an unmitigated trust in the healing process. As a chiropractor, you must be able to trust that your patient can and will heal under your care. If a chiropractor has a doubt about that then the patient should be discharged and encouraged to seek another’s care. It’s that simple, but sometimes it takes a lot of courage to make the right call. Courage is a virtue of a good chiropractor. Real courage and trust in the innate healing processes are very different than blind faith, so there is a requirement of important information about how living organisms heal. It is equally important to have life experiences observing the innate drive of living organisms toward homeostasis. I think that I had the most excellent childhood in shaping my personal confidence and courage.

Life on the Farm

I was born into a dairy farm family in the upstate Central, NY region. It was 1954 and I was my mother’s second child. My dad had survived WWII and wanted to establish a dairy farm. Mom was ten years younger and very enthusiastic about the venture, so they were able to buy a small farm, which from my understanding had twelve milking Holstein cows and a team of Belgian draft workhorses. That’s right, no tractor for the first year. Imagine?

Growing up in dairy farm country, or on any farm for that matter, allows a child to experience first hand, our relationship with things natural. Large animals, such as cows and horses are obviously quite intimidating, but it was the abundant smaller critters that interested me. Just as soon as I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I was out in the fields and down by the creeks exploring our wonderful natural world. I think kids today are just simply missing the grandest of opportunities by being glued to their iPads, TV and all the rest of the non-experiential world.

Looking back, I’m glad it was hands-on and mud dirty nearly every waking hour of my childhood. Bugs, frogs, tadpoles, fish, snakes, turtles, mice, spiders and basically anything that crawled, swam or moved was the toy of the moment. Back on the farm were the puppies, kittens, baby pigs, chicks, calves, and foals. Learning to handle all these critters was interesting. I still remember a garter snake biting me in its futile attempt to escape. It was an interesting sensation. Spiders, just by their look, always brought with them an understanding to leave well enough alone, unless you had a wide mouth jar. Bees also brought a certain understanding to the table that quickly gained my respect.

Learning from Nature

With all of this natural world emersion, what I think was the most relevant was the cycles of life in all of its variations. Frog eggs to pollywogs to tadpoles to little frogs to bullfrogs was the most memorable and obvious cycle. The Monarch butterfly caterpillar to  Chrysalis phenomena and the close relationship to the milkweed plant really got my attention too. I also remember the wasps planting eggs on the big green Tomato Hornworm with their scary curved and spiked horn protruding from their tail end. With time, the hornworm would die and dry up and then little wasps would emerge from the exoskeleton. Wow! That was amazing. Plants were also observed as it was interesting to plant the garden and participate in its growth and harvest, not to mention the fields of corn, oat, alfalfa, and buckwheat. The seed to feed cycle, if you will.

All of these observations and direct contacts and participation helped me to understand that life is a process and it includes many different phases and that death mostly represents a new beginning or at least the final phase of life. That is not to say that I am any less sensitive to any living organism taking its final breath, but there is a strong understanding that life cycles need to complete themselves. I think those experiences made it less emotionally painful for me to get through the losses of my comrades, close friends and family members as I have moved through my own life cycle. Even more important than understanding the importance of life cycles came the careful observances and participation in the healing process.

Helping Animals

In the country, you are constantly confronted with the tragedy of injured animals. Sometimes calves and cows were injured in the birthing process but mostly not. My recollections of this mostly had a happy ending. Lots of blood and guts, but in the end, a happy nursing calf and a proud mother cow. Dad was always concerned about mastitis, a condition of udder infection, that would affect the cow’s ability to produce a saleable product, not to mention the cow’s personal discomfort with a painful swollen udder. The condition usually required a dose of antibiotic and extra attention massaging and stripping (squeezing the milk out of the teat) and checking for the signs of mastitis. I always observed the cow getting over this condition. Infections were common amongst any farm animal and with proper care, they usually survived.

Watching them go through the process was the important thing for my future as a chiropractor. Sometimes animals would hurt themselves by slipping on a slippery barn floor and right at that point they would begin a slow but sure failure too remain productive and begin a failure to thrive process. This usually resulted in a livestock truck coming for a visit and the cow herded up the tailgate ramp and taken off to the butcher. The man would give Dad some money and Dad would always feel bad about the whole loss of our cow and the situation at large.

After I became a chiropractor I was called many times to various dairy farms to check out a failing cow or horse. I would check the spinal column for the condition of spinal subluxation, make an adjustment and leave the farmer with more hope than he would have had without my care of his herd. I always got a big “thank you, she’s doing fine,” call within a few days. If only my Dad would have known about chiropractic during our farming days. I think the most important lesson that I learned on that farm regarding the healing process was patience, trust, and caring. We’ll get into this story a little deeper in Why Chiropractic? Part Three. Stay tuned.

Why Chiropractic? | Chiropractor Wilmington

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