Happy Birthday! 120 years and yet still a young profession.
Although many say chiropractic didn’t give birth to joint adjusting (bonesetting has been around for 1000s of years), our founders did develop a beautiful philosophy, science and art that is our profession today. Our philosophy says we are all born with this incredible intelligence inside our bodies that beautifully interprets our life experience and orchestrates our actions.
Many chiropractors have uniquely personal and inspiring stories that led them to choose chiropractic as their way of serving the world… some say chiropractic chose them…
A few weeks ago, a close personal mentor of mine, Dr. J Michael Flynn, asked me if I would include the story of how I got into chiropractic as a part of a book titled, “Chiropractors: Their Stories and the Institutions Leading the Way”. I don’t think 1600 words can really encapsulate every aspect of my story but I agreed because I’d love for it to honor my brother and the rest of the family. I’d also love for it to honor my profession for providing me the opportunity to help other achieve their optimal potential.
No drugs, no scalpels, just healing from the inside out as nature intended.
The story is below, enjoy 🙂
The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ― Thomas A. Edison (1902)
I had just landed in Kuwait when my brother graduated from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in April 2003. I deployed as the Battalion Fire Direction Officer for the 4th Battalion 42nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Division and admittedly was also thinking about where my path was taking me. Was I going to stay in the military and carry on my service to our great nation? Or was I going to hang up my uniform and serve the world as a civilian?
The best thing about our deployment were the soldiers we served alongside. 4-42 wasn’t your typical artillery battalion. Across the board we were above and beyond the rest of the division artillery. We excelled in every competition, we excelled in combat keeping the city of Ad Dawr safe in Iraq, and we couldn’t be touched on the Frisbee Football Field! But as I mentioned above, nothing topped the soldiers and officers.
To this day I miss the camaraderie, the friendships, and I miss knowing that I could trust the guy on my left and right, to get my back at a moment’s notice.
While I was deployed, my brother sent me three books to read. The first was “The Web that Has no Weaver by Dr. Ted Kapchuk, the second “Total Health Nutrition” by Dr. Joe Mercola and the last was “Applied Kinesiology” by Dr. Robert Frost. These books were meant to shine a light on a potential new path for me. What I didn’t realize was that my brother was slowly becoming the “Doctor of the Future”. What I did realize was that he was more inspired and driven than most of our friends and peers. What I could feel in my heart was how strong his purpose was to help others and serve the world.
It made me proud… of him of course, but also of the fact that people like him existed in the world. When you are fighting for the values of this country, when you are laying your life on the line in the name of freedom, you want to know there are people out there serving in a way that has incredible value for the world.
As I read the books, it was as if a veil that I didn’t even know existed was lifting. These men wrote about healing from the inside out. They talked about how healing has been a part of our species for 1000s of years and how we didn’t need to be filled with drugs to ‘cure’ every disease. Each of them talked about food as medicine and how in healing less is more.
When I redeployed to Fort Hood, TX, I immediately changed my nutrition to a whole food diet. I thought about not only the number of calories I ate but also the quality of calories I ate. In fact, I was the chef in the house so I became the food dictator for not only myself and also my three roommates. Back then, living in central Texas, there weren’t a lot of healthy food options and if you said the word ‘organic’ people didn’t think you were talking about food! But being an hour north of Austin, I bought an ice chest and drove to Whole Foods Market every weekend for our produce.
You see, I couldn’t unlearn what I had learned. My mindset around health was changing and I started to realize our choices mattered. As much as my roommates disapproved of spending more on food, they couldn’t deny how different our food looked and tasted. They couldn’t deny how much better they felt.
When it came time to leave the service, I was still unsure about what I wanted to do. Big companies were headhunting West Point graduates, most of my peers were vying for and earning spots at the top Ivy league business schools in the nation but I could not get ‘health’ off my mind. In the end, I decided to move to San Diego to learn from my best friend and mentor. Much to the chagrin of my superior officers, I was moving to San Diego to ‘find my path’ and a few weeks later, I packed up my trusty Nissan Pathfinder and headed West.
Moving to San Diego was an incredible decision. It was like paradise everyday. Saying hello to the beach and the surf and saying goodbye to uniforms and deployments brought new opportunities. The money I saved from my deployment was about to pay off big time as I moved in with my brother and made my first appointment at his office.
What he taught me in those first few weeks was life changing. It brought what I had read in those books to life. He told me I was one of the fittest patients he had. But he was clear that ‘fitness’ and ‘strength’ was not synonymous with ‘health’ and ‘well-being’. Steve identified inflammatory patterns that affected my digestion. He taught me that my gut was connected to my nervous system, my immune health and my mental well-being. He noticed how these patterns were affecting my emotions and sleep. He then tied these all back to my nervous system and posture.
Steve showed me yoga, he introduced me to meditation, maybe most importantly he drove me to the beach to buy my first surfboard. I made a choice not to choose a career until I knew more about this new sense of wellness. I needed to learn from experience and make the most of this critical time transitioning to the civilian world. About 6 weeks into care, I was getting adjusted 2-3 times a week and really starting to feel reconnected to ‘myself’. At this time, Steve suggested I do the Standard Process Purification Program and although I was already discovering the true meaning of health, it wasn’t until I completed the cleanse that I felt like my life had hit the reset button. For those people my age, there is a distinct feeling when you push that reset button on a gaming system – it was like that.
When you clear the body of toxins and create improved spinal and neural health through chiropractic adjustments, we are more likely to realize the incredible potential in the body.
If I sit and think about it, I can FEEL it all over again. I am still in the beginning stages of my practice and I love every moment of everyday because in each moment with each patient there is a potential to give to others what my brother gave to me. It’s an incredibly personal mission for us.
While my brother was going to chiropractic school, our grandfather passed away. I was training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California when we got the call over the radio. One of the last times I visited him, he was so weak and he barely remembered us. This man fought in World War II. He and his brother did 100 pushups a day until they were in their 80s. I remember him as if he was a VIP as he walked us down the street in Chinatown (LA). When they did his autopsy, they found cancer all over his body and I remember thinking “how could they just find cancer all over his body?”. I know this motivated Steve to serve more. I know it spoke to an inside part of him that the end of our grandfather’s life could have had a different ending and I know it helped him begin the process of helping the rest of our family.
Soon after I finished chiropractic school, our grandmother passed away. She was the matriarch of our family and losing her was so hard on all of us. I remember driving up from San Diego multiple times a week to see her. I remember my aunt spending 24 hours a day by her side and my parents making meals for my aunt and giving her a break as much as they could. I remember the day that my grandma met my newborn nephew Kai. I remember how in a blink of an eye, she lit up like a candle. She couldn’t speak but we all knew that she knew it was her newest great grandbaby – our newest family member.
I remember one day asking my aunt and the nurse tending to my grandmother if we could feed my grandmother fresh juice or smoothies. The nurse looked at me funny and said ‘we don’t know what it will do to her’. Watching her reconnect her feeding tube and the ‘liquid diet’ she was on I decided to look at the label and notice all the ‘chemicals’ in the pseudofood and ask ‘what if we drank this?’. The nurse looked at me and said, ‘I am not going to drink THAT’. I asked ‘why not?’ and she said ‘It will probably make us sick.’. I then asked ‘why would you feed it to a dying person?’. She paused and said ‘I… don’t know.’
That was a cathartic moment that has fueled my life and my practice since. Both my brother and I have been able to help not only our parents and their generation in our family live more healthfully, but Steve and his wife Rachel are raising their family in ways that focus on prevention and holistic well-being.
My practice sees whole families – from newborns to expecting moms to grandparents alike. My practice wants to influence generations to be conscious about their health. Being in a Navy town (Go Army, Beat Navy!), I feel fortunate to help these men and women especially those who are deploying overseas and into harm’s way. I love knowing that what I know now is helping curb their experience of chronic stress, digestive problems, subluxation patterns and PTSD. With prevention and a vitalistic approach to health, I love helping my patients need all doctors less – including me.
I love being that Doctor of the Future.
End of story…
What an incredible 120 years chiropractic… here’s to many more.
Love this story,
what a beautiful read, what an insight to one of the greatest men in chiropractic today, an incredible soul in a magnificent being.
respect and appreciation.