My Why: Part 1
One of the most common questions I get asked is how and why I became a chiropractor. Even as a child I was always interested in science. I loved dissecting worms in my front yard and daddy long-legs in my tent at Girl Scout camp. I was interested in the medical field even at the age of 5. I entered college as premed. I loved watching shows on TV about liposuction and breast augmentation after mastectomy. I planned to attend medical school in the Caribbean and become a plastic surgeon and help people improve their self esteem and confidence by altering their outward appearance.
"Luckily" I injured my back on the college dance team while doing a leap. After that, every time I would jump and land, I'd have pain radiate from my lower to my upper back. I came home on a holiday break from college and my mom suggested I see our chiropractor. I had gone a few times as a middle schooler when I slipped on ice outside the school while wearing a too large, heavy backpack and carrying my tenor saxophone case. Both feet came out from underneath me and I came crashing down on my neck and back. I also went when I was pelted in the head with a rogue basketball in gym class. In both cases, I was adjusted once and my neck pain and range of motion improved and I felt better, so I decided to go in for my back injury. Again, I was adjusted once and all of my pain went away and I went back to college and danced without pain. I kept thinking about how amazing that was to have almost instant relief and decided I had to be a chiropractor!
I had some criticism from relatives and others about how "silly" it was that I wanted to be a chiropractor instead of a medical doctor. Unlike a lot of my fellow chiropractic school classmates, no one in my family was a chiropractor; in fact, many are nurses and even a medical doctor. My parents were very supportive though. My mom had been diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis as a teen and had seen a chiropractor even through adulthood on a regular basis and had a great amount of relief from it. My then boyfriend, who is now my husband, was also very supportive. He had spent a whole summer staying with his grandma when he was younger, helping her out while she recovered from a back injury. She too started seeing a chiropractor and he could see amazing results with her being able to get around much easier and being in less pain. I was drawn to chiropractic school also because I liked that it wasn't the conventional allopathic way of thinking. I knew I'd be challenged by people and other professionals that didn't agree or understand it and I wanted to show them that there was benefit, and in fact research, to back up what we as chiropractors do. I most importantly really wanted to help people like my mom and I had been!
As I started chiropractic school, I realized there were things that even I didn't know about chiropractic. I knew adjustments helped the musculoskeletal system, but I had no idea chiropractors adjusted anything other than the spine. I also didn't realize the immense benefit adjustments have with the nervous system and that much of my schooling would be in neurology. This became especially helpful while I was learning neurodiagnosis. While I was a chiropractic student, my younger sister began having numbness and tingling into her hands and feet and difficulty walking. She came home from college for Thanksgiving break and was told it would be a few weeks before she could see a neurologist. I brought home my reflex hammer and tested her reflexes and knew there was something wrong. After finally seeing a neurologist, lab tests and MRI, my suspicions were confirmed that she had Multiple Sclerosis. In school, I became very interested in learning techniques to adjust and care for the knees, shoulders, hips, feet, wrists and even the jaw. I also had no idea that chiropractors worked with women's health issues or infants. In school, I became president of the Yoga Club and joined the Pediatric Club. I loved the idea of working with infants and children and was fascinated with the case studies on chiropractic care with many childhood conditions. I realized that chiropractic care was so much more than just for pain relief! I started the requirements for my pediatric certification through the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association while still attending school and I took electives in pediatrics and was able to care for infants and toddlers in our chiropractic school's clinic.
I have never thought my chiropractic training or profession was "silly." In fact, I become more excited about and more proud of my profession more each day -especially after reading the benefits my colleagues are seeing in their practices, what the current research is showing, and the results I see in my own office. I feel blessed to have a job that is rewarding and challenging and I look forward to what the next ten years will bring in my career!