Nothing to lose

Just over ten years ago, I walked through the door of Cirencester Chiropractic Centre. Actually to say that I walked in is a little inaccurate. I was hobbling, supported by a walking stick and looking like an invalid in their late 80’s rather than a man in his mid 30’s. I didn’t know what was wrong with me except that I could barely walk. My whole world had been turned on its head by debilitating pain. I didn’t know it at the time but I was suffering from severe disc prolapse.

In the previous weeks, my GP had referred me to a specialist who in turn had proposed immediate surgery. I was told that there was a 90% probability of a successful outcome. When asked about the 10%, he explained that the worst case was fatality or confinement to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. On the upside, I might only suffer something ‘as simple as loss of bowel, sexual or urinary function’

I did not consider these to be good options. I wanted to know my alternatives.

When a friend, who had made an excellent recovery after a riding accident, suggested chiropractic, I immediately agreed. It seemed to me that I had absolutely nothing to lose.

My treatment involved many months of gentle manipulation of the muscles and tissues to rebalance my body and alleviate the pressures and strains on my spine. The pain gradually receded. Pain is often part of the healing process – it is the body’s way of stopping you from making things worse. Pain killers can mask the pain, but that’s dealing with the symptoms, not the cause. Remove the pain and you might hide the symptoms and delay the cure.

For a long time, my quality of life remained at a level far below what I would have liked. The loss of mobility was the loss of freedom. The constant need to manage pain wore me down. Life stopped being fun. I became resentful.  It just seemed so unfair. Why had I been singled out for this? It was hard to focus on the tunnel, let alone see any light at the end of it. By being in this waiting room, it’s possible that you will know how this feels.

“I assumed that the reduction in pain signalled that everything was back to normal”

I stuck with chiropractic and slowly but surely, things got better. The pain began to lessen and the mobility began to come back; any vigorous exercise remained out of the question but at least I was walking again. On several occasions I did what most people do, I assumed that the reduction in pain signalled that everything was back to normal. It wasn’t – and there were several times when my attempts to return to ‘normal’ activities led to sudden and unpleasant setbacks. There were several painful reminders that the process of healing through chiropractic is a slow one. It is not an overnight ‘miracle cure’.

Today I lead an active life. I know my limitations and I acknowledge that some things will never be the same; however getting out of bed cautiously, or avoiding lifting heavy loads is a small price to pay for freedom from pain.

There are many things that you can do for yourself and your chiropractor will tell you what they are. It’s important to follow the advice you are given; I didn’t always do what I was told to, and I invariably paid the price for it.

Above all, maintain the faith. Things will get better and you will turn the corner. It just takes time and no small amount of personal determination. Victories are rarely won without a fight and someone who isn’t willing to fight is beaten from the start. You have taken the first step by being here today.

I have just returned from a 700 kilometre solo traverse across Iceland. If you had forecast that ten years ago, I would have agreed that you needed specialist care, but at the same time suggested that you were in the wrong waiting room.

“Good luck. The outcome is just as much in your hands as it is in the person treating you.”


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