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Posts Tagged ‘Suffering

Chiropractors should drop all the “Doctor” bullshit

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I went to the chiropractor this morning for the pain in my neck, shoulder, and lower back.  I’ve been dealing with Psoriatic Arthritis, a.k.a. “Phil Mickelson’s Disease,” and it’s really becoming a pain in my ass, sometimes literally.  But we all suffer, so I’m looking for healthy ways to alleviate it.  The Buddha says all suffering, or dukkha, stems from desire.  Which is bullshit.  Big fan of the Buddha, naturally, but I think something is lost in the interpretation.  Translated from Sanskrit, dukkha means something more like “unfulfillment,” or “disquietude,” the incessant wanting that Henderson struggled with: “My heart was saying again ‘I want I want I want.’’’  So what about the suffering that stems from pain?  This is a very natural form of suffering, not brought about by the disharmonious desires of the ego (maybe).  What is the difference, then, between physical suffering and emotional suffering?  Perhaps I’m missing the link, I know I get depressed because of physical pain, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m in pain because I’m depressed, or ‘suffering’ emotionally.  If I take care of my spine and my heart (both literally and figuratively), I should be able to alleviate a lot of my physical problems.

But this isn’t a philosophical or religious argument, I want to talk about chiropractors.  I’ve been to six separate clinics, and I’m starting to figure out their game.  The practice has been around for about one hundred years, and chiropractors have taken a lot of shit over the last century, mostly from the medical community at large.  Chiropractic is a beneficial form of therapy, but chiropractors are not doctors, despite their self-appointed titles and initials before and after their names.  I think the whole industry would benefit greatly if the competition with accredited AMA doctors ceased.  My experience with each of my six chiropractors has seemed relatively standardized, there were few differences or exceptions between my treatments.  Each clinic was set up like any other clinic I’ve ever visited.  A spartan reception area with crappy magazines, the receptionists wearing scrubs (for reasons I’ve never gathered), the ubiquitous copying of drivers’ licenses and insurance cards, and six or eight stark exam rooms peppered with a few yellowed and peeling medical posters outlining the spinal system, etc.  At first glance it looks like any other doctors office, but again, chiropractors aren’t really doctors.  There are no chiropractic surgeries or pharmaceutical prescriptions. In each clinic, respectively, x-rays were taken, I received an electric stim treatment (used in hospitals and physical therapy clinics everywhere), a spinal adjustment (the delicious cracking (they don’t like the term “cracking,” but that’s exactly what it sounds like) of the spine and joints, which each of my chiropractors performed uniformly, and brief therapy in the form of light exercise, stretching, etc.  Then you go home and listen to your neck crackle like Pop Rocks for a week until your next scheduled session.

At first I was skeptical about the rehabilitation schedule; anyone in business understands the benefits of convincing clients they have to come in bi-weekly for thirteen weeks.   After enjoying the benefits of chiropractic I’m less skeptical about the scheduling–if I haven’t been in a long time I’ll need a few extra visits to get me back in shape, then I’ll only come every few weeks for a tune-up, which is similar to any other kind of physical therapy or exercise.  Despite my opinion that they’re not really doctors (an opinion shared by the American Medical Association) I find chiropractors to be valuable,  and they provide services rarely found in the traditional American medical community.  Every orthopedist I’ve seen ultimately recommends surgery, after a three-minute exam (I’ve been to seven or more).  Chiropractors, unlike the majority of our western doctors, focus on preventative medicine rather than cutting you open when things have gone too far.  Which is refreshing.  I don’t want to be myopic, there are legions of genius doctors and surgeons in our country, but medical care is a business here, and like most businesses, physicians are concerned with throughput time:  finding the most expeditious route to take a sick person and make them well.  In my experience the expeditious route has a way of taking precedence over fully conscientious care.  We’re all trying to make a buck after all.

Chiropractors have created a lot of enemies and skeptics in their attempt to legitimize their occupation within the medical community.  A great many of those enemies have advanced medical degrees. Chiropractors are highly educated physical therapists, and many of them can give you results you won’t get at a typical doctor, who will most likely prescribe you a bottle of pills (with serious side effects, manufactured by pharmaceutical companies who are more profit-minded than any rehabilitation service requesting your presence on a bi-weekly basis, pushed on the doc by sexy saleswomen in sultry business suits, armed with briefcases full of free samples)  without actually looking at you and trying to figure out the problems with our mechanics. Which is what it all boils down to; if the frame is compromised all other systems will suffer, leading to systemic poor performance, just like an automobile (or anything with a skeleton for that matter, animated or otherwise).

We are now, if not always, amidst a cultural revolution.  We used to look to ivory towers and authoritarian enclaves to validate our titles, but this reliance  is fading.  We’ve needed it, honestly, over the past few centuries, most of us were too ignorant or segregated to navigate the world of professionalism.  The self-proclaimed authorities did what they could to regulate chaos, to standardize our ideas of what we considered “healthcare,” or any other profession for that matter.   And they did a commendable job at it, but we’ve traveled far enough now past the need for more regulation and have arrived at a time where all the professionalism in the world can’t help all of us.  Ironically, we’re going to have to look to our smaller, local groups for appropriate care, despite the enormous wealth of medical information at our fingertips.  There used to be a village healer or medicine man in every social group, but we’ve done away with all that in favor of validated professionalism.  It’s time to judge what we see in front of us and stop relying on higher authorities to tell us what’s best.  Chiropractic eases suffering, the physical form of dukkha, and that has incredible merit.

In a time when our conventions are being challenged on every front, the chiropractors need to realize their unique place in the medical community and and make it their own.  They don’t have to dress like a doc, their reception area certainly doesn’t have to be uniformly bland  like every medical waiting room I’ve ever been in, their exam rooms don’t need all the medical accoutrements, and they don’t need to put “Dr.” in front of their names, which is misleading and a little bit sad once you figure out why it’s there.  Doctors’  offices are boring at best, scary at worst, so why would anyone outside the medical establishment want to emulate them?  I go to the chiropractor to feel better, hopefully as a preemptive measure against visiting a traditional hospital. The poor bastards are so hung up on convincing everyone they’re “real” doctors that they’ve completely missed the mark and created tension between themselves and the rest of the medical community.  Their paychecks would look the same if they didn’t have the “Dr.” in front of their name, right?  Heck, even massage therapists can file with health insurance companies now. And of the six or seven chiropractors I’ve visited, each of them have introduced themselves using the “Dr.” followed by their first name:  “Hi, I’m Doctor Mike,” “Hi, I’m Doctor Lisa.”  AMA accredited doctors don’t do that, it’s more of a kindergarten teacher thing (Hi, I’m Ms. Lisa!  We’re going to have a wonderful year!).  Medical doctors typically don’t say much of anything with social value, they’re too busy treating our diseases and forgetting that we’re human beings (Sorry all you fun, social docs with a good sense of humor, I know you’re out there and we appreciate you).

So drop the bullshit and just let me call you Mike, Dr. Mike, my lower back is killing me and I need you make it crack like a celery stalk.

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Written by billlobe

July 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm