Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mama Bean's Chiropractic ego is a bit bruised tonight

I am having an off week en generale and in specific at work. (En generale because Sprout had a bad night before my early work morning and that just made everyone tired and cranky...) Yesterday and today, I've had a string of patients return for second treatments of problems they presented with last week (Thursday and Friday of last week, in particular). They are returning because their problems are not better or have worsened. Tonight, after the fifth or sixth such incident, I started to take it a little personally.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, it's just that usually I make people feel better. That's, like, my job. (Oh oh Chiro friends, please don't lecture me about Innate. For the purposes of this post, it's my job, okay?) Usually, if people come back for a second treatment, it's a week later, and they tell me they feel better but it's still there a bit, or they feel better but they just want to be sure. Or they come back in a month for a regular tune-up and tell me how great they've felt. Or they don't come back for awhile, for whatever reason, and that's just life. But overall, I do my job, and folks come back and tell me I've done it well. Good for the ego, my job is.

Except when it isn't. Like when a gobsmack of patients come in after four days and tell me I didn't do squat. Oof.

It's hard not to question myself - what was happening last week? Was I not paying attention, was I not fully present, was I half asleep? (I have a baby, I am frequently tired, this is not beyond the realm of possibility...) I have doubts, and then I feel terrible. These people trust me, with their money, with their health, with their bodies.

On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons why this has nothing to do with me. Sometimes (often) one treatment is not enough. And for some of the folks this week, we're dealing with significant injuries that I should know will take more time to resolve. It is much more likely that this is all a case of bad timing, because in any given week I'll have a patient or two with persistent or stubborn situations, and they don't cause me a crisis of self doubt - it's only that all these cases seem to have ganged up on me in a few short days.

This is a paradox of Chiropractoring for me. My Chiropractic education drilled into me that people are their own healers - that this is what our bodies are designed to do! Fix! And so the Chiropractor cannot get too proud or too invested in their abilities, because fundamentally, the patient is the real Healer. On the other hand, I don't do nothing! (Obviously, I hope...) Chiropractors move things that need moving, remove Interference that's getting in the way of Healing. We do Something! (How's that for a professional motto? "Chiropractors: We Do Something!")

Paradox. On the one hand, I wield influence over people's health. They come to me requesting aid, and I know I do Good. On the other hand, I am only one tiny part of their life - ten minutes in my office is followed by the next ten days of where they work and where they live and where they parent and where they have hobbies and where they sleep and where they wake up to do it all again. I have no control over all that other stuff (all my suggestions about ergonomics and stretches and icing aside.) So in that grand scheme of things, I bear comparatively little influence. It is a paradox to mentally balance my perceived impact on people's lives versus their expectations of my impact versus the realities of their daily lives. And somewhere in there is the true change an adjustment can bring. Which is real. Which is what they pay for.

Anyway, I continually find this to be the hardest patient education lesson to teach: I do Good for you, but you are responsible (and able! and naturally designed!) to do much more Good for yourself.

It is especially hard after a day like today. However! Tomorrow = new day, new opportunities. Tomorrow also = my day off (Huzzah!) And maybe that is exactly what my bruised self-confidence requires, so I can face Thursday with a bit more verve. And whatever it is that shadowed last Thursday will not re-create a dismal Tuesday like I had today.

(The picture is bachelor's buttons and poppy seedpods from a neighbour's plot at our community garden. This year, before we leave the garden, I am running around asking folks for seeds from their wildflowers - poppies, bachelor's buttons, borage, cosmos, lavatera, all of it!)


  1. Well, if I can help your bruised ego any I want to say that Chiropractor's are the greatest people on earth. (Maybe second to brain surgeons since one just saved my son's life, but that's not the point). I've had chronic back/neck issues since I was 17. In and out getting adjustments that made my life great. After a car accident I went twice a month to battle scar tissue in my back. Then I went years fine (ironically, when I gain 60-70 pounds when pregnant I feel the best), but in the end my chiropractor has kept pain and headaches at bay. Recently, my chiro did such a great job with my last bout of intense pain that literally took treatments three times a week for three weeks to finally work...that I haven't been back for two years. I haven't had a single pain, but I know if I do he's right down the road. In fact, as soon as we can get my son's CAT scans to him he is going to adjust his neck and help him with all the pain he's had since his accident. Yes, chiropractors are God's hands helping adjust us into pain free days. And I assure you all your repeat offenders did not follow instructions to ice/heat/not life heavy stuff because that's human nature...to do what we shouldn't. So don't feel bad...I'm sure they just didn't follow doctors instructions. Enjoy your day off. It will all be better Thursday.

  2. Found your blog when I was skimming the comments on MckMama's blog...and I'm pretty sure we live in the same city. Creepy!!

    I hope you had a fantastic day off today!