Why Do We Really Do What We Do?

-By Dr. Heather Freedlund

Why do we really do what we do?  That question has been ringing in my head this week.  I know sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the day to day of having an office and to lose the urgency for why we are really here.  My big vision entering 2012 has been to see more miracles in my practice.  I know they happen in so many ways everyday and sometimes I get complacent and miss the seemingly little miracles.  This last week, God slapped me in the face with a family that was an unbelievable reminder of why we are here as chiropractors and that we are the only people who can help.

Monday night, I had a message to call a patient who I had not seen for 4 years.  She is the mother of a family that I adjusted from 2003 to 2008.  When I first met Sarah, she was a mess.  As we went through her history (9 years ago) she said, “There are some things I want you to know, but I did not write them down, because I have never admitted they happened.”  She proceeded to tell me about the most horrifying childhood ever.  I am amazed to this day that she survived both physically and emotionally.  At this point she was a wife, and a mother to two boys.  On the outside she was covering, but on the inside she was writhing in misery.  It took very little conversation that day for her to know she was in the right place.

A week later, she trusted me to examine her boys Steve and Dave.  They were 11 and 9 at the time.  They came in after school and as we were going through their histories, they were non responsive.  They sat there looking at the ground, glazed, and with their mouths half open.  I did their exams and found they were living with the same misery on the inside as their mom.  I finished their exams and sent them to another room.  I asked Sarah, “What is happening with your boys?”  She looked at me strange and said “What do you mean?  My boys are living a great life.”  I realized that compared to her childhood they were indeed living a charmed life.  As I pushed her, she admitted the boys had been on Ritalin since they started school and it had made her life a lot easier.  They took a two hour nap after school and then played video games until bedtime.  We made a commitment that day to work together to help her get her family back.

Over the next 5 years, we did just that.  He husband (an amazing man), started care and their lives improved to the point of being unrecognizable.  All of them were off drugs, they ate meals as a family, and the boys were doing great at school.  It was so great that we all started to take it for granted. We became complacent.  In 2008, on the same week, both her and her husband lost their jobs.  She called to say they needed to take a week off to regroup.  That week went by and then another and then another.  I moved on, but still stopped to pray for them when their names would come across a list.  I did not hear a word from them for 4 years…until last Monday.

When I talked to Sarah last Monday, she said they were ready to come back. I scheduled new exams and a time to get caught back up on their lives.  I was expecting to see the same vibrant family I had cared for 4 years earlier.  As you can imagine, that is not what I saw when they walked through the door.  The boys are now 19 and 21, they are grown men, but they looked like the same beat down boys I had met 9 years earlier.  Sarah is not working and she has not slept for weeks.  She is currently so drugged she was drifting out of consciousness as we talked.

The two grown men in front of me admitted they do not have jobs or go to school.  They are currently staying up all night playing video games and then sleeping all day.  Most of their day and night are confined to the basement.  Their exams confirmed the misery on the inside that I was seeing on the outside, as did mom and dad’s.  I took new x-rays and scheduled them for a report the next day.  As I left the room I had to redirect my energy to be able to serve the patients who were there for their weekly life saving adjustments.

That night as I waited for the x-rays to be developed, my urgency grew.  People are dying, and we are the only ones who can help them.  When the x-rays were done, I took them to the view box and looked at mom and dad’s first, expected result, slight progression of the degeneration on their spine.  I put the boys’ x-rays up and was not prepared for what I saw.  The 19 year old had about a 30 degree head tilt.  When asked the following day he told me he plays video games 15 hours a day in a broken chair tilted to that side.  The 21 year old was the most shocking.  I missed this at first because it was so unexpected.  He had a level of osteoporosis that I have only seen in 80 year old women.  You already know why; live in the basement with no purpose, eating one meal a day, and your body will slowly die.

As I gave them their report the following day, they felt my urgency.  The reality is if this family does not make a change now, they will die.  We have a whole generation of kids in basements right now dying slow deaths and we don’t even know they exist.  All we can do is throw them a rope and pray they will grab a hold.  The world needs chiropractic and they need your best.

As I write, I can’t help but think about some of the young (and old) chiropractors I have met in the last year.  Many of them are dying in the basement.  They have lost their passion for life and they are simply going through their day.  I know you know some chiropractors who are stuck in that same place.   We need more great chiropractors NOW.  And the chiropractors of the world need TNR.  They need someone to throw them a rope and say “I believe you can be great, even if you have spent the last 4 years in the basement.”  Most of us were stuck in a bad place before we found TNR.  This is a year of miracles for our practices and for TNR.  Who do you know that needs a miracle? Call them and throw them a rope.