I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My early memories are filled with endless days playing in the woods and fields around my home. In many ways I was an average kid who went to school, played with friends, and had hopes of going to college, maybe accounting like my brother, or pharmacy like my grandfather, when I graduated high school. When I started my senior year, something happened which altered the course of my life.
Just three weeks into my senior year I began to experience intense headaches. It seemed to come on without any reason, I remember waking up one day and it was just there. I stayed home from school that day, and the next, and the next. On the 5th day I visited my family doctor. He looked over my vital signs, took some blood and scheduled an CT scan of my brain. I was sent home with a prescription for pain medication. I had been taking over-the-counter pain relievers all week, but nothing took the edge off the pain, and neither did the stronger medications.
With the constant pain I wasn’t sleeping much and was tired all the time. I was not able to go to school because of the pain. The next 4 weeks were filled with visits to neurologists, allergists, and 4 days in the hospital just to run more tests. I had blood drawn at least a dozen times, two CT scans, an MRI, and chest x-rays performed. At some point a professional suggested to my parents that I was “faking it”. Luckily my parents trusted me, they knew my behavior was consistent with being in constant pain.
Since nothing out of the ordinary could be found on the standard medical tests, the only solution offered was to keep trying more pain medications. I was on 4 separate medications in the first 4 weeks, and eventually gave up since none provided any pain relief.
(When I look back at this time…and look at the current state of pharmaceuticals, I feel so lucky opiate medications were not available, I would have been turned into a drugged zombie at 16! Which still wouldn’t have solved the underlying problem, it would have only numbed the pain).
At week 6 my mother made an appointment for me with a chiropractor, and I cancelled. I didn’t think I “needed” a chiropractor because I had not hurt my spine. I pursued a couple more options for 2 more weeks, including having my wisdom teeth removed, and when that didn’t work, I rescheduled with the chiropractor. I wasn’t expecting much, since nobody else was able to help me.
My perspective about chiropractic changed when I met my chiropractor. He explained to me he wasn’t going to treat my headaches, rather he was going to check the integrity of my spine and nerve system and make adjustments if necessary.
This was different! The approach of the chiropractor was vitalistic. The focus was on optimal health and optimal function. The intent is to restore function. This made immediate sense to me. I learned about the basic function of the body in public school health class. Of course, the spine is important, it is the communication superhighway of the body!
The chiropractor took x-rays and examined my spine. Different from medical x-rays, they looked for areas where the spinal cord or spinal nerves may be affected. A physical examination looked more closely at these areas to look for more signs like muscle tightness or lack of normal spinal motion. I was shown my x-rays, and I could see areas where my spine had less than optimal function. Next, came my adjustment.
After the first adjustment I noticed a big change, but not in my pain, it was still there. I noticed there was an improvement in the motion of my neck, I could look up (at the ceiling) much easier than I could remember being able to do previously. I never had pain to let me know something was wrong. I was just living with a lack of normal motion without ever knowing. Also, there was a clarity in my thinking I hadn’t felt in a while, maybe ever.
Within a few hours the headache started to alleviate, for the first time in 8 weeks. 2 Days later on a follow up visit, I still had a mild headache, but it was much better. I was sleeping better, and the pain was diminished enough that I could go to school.
After the initial improvement in my pain, I began to notice that my health was improving in many areas, I had more energy, paid attention better in school and began to exercise more frequently. Chiropractic has helped me reach more of my potential in many areas of my life.
As the days and weeks passed, I continued with chiropractic care because it made sense to keep my spine “in line”. A few months later, on one of my wellness visits, my chiropractor asked me, “Have you ever thought of becoming a Chiropractor?”. I hadn’t, but in the next few months as I approached graduation I thought about it quite a bit. That fall I started the path to Chiropractic College. I started school at Pennsylvania College of Chiropractic in 1993 and finished school at Sherman College of Chiropractic in 1997.
When I think back, I spent weeks with pain and without sleep that could have been avoided completely if I had been to a chiropractor sooner.
If you have a health challenge, have your spine professionally examined. I suffered longer than I needed to because I thought chiropractic was only for people with neck or back pain. Don’t be like me. Find a chiropractor today, and start the road to better health.
While I did not have any neck pain, I realized after I started receiving care I had many small bumps, hits to the head, and micro traumas to my body associated with roughhousing with my brother (we loved to imitate “professional” wrestling moves we saw on TV – Thanks Grandma!) or playing tackle football in the back yard, etc. Life is full of these events, and we aren’t born with bubble wrap to protect ourselves.
Why did the headaches start when they did? I don’t know, and it really didn’t matter. I only wanted to get better, and that is why I resonated with the chiropractic view of how the body works. As I Chiropractor, I look for indications that your spinal health could be improved, and I assist your spine in reaching that level of function.
In 1997 I moved to Charlottesville with a classmate and we started a practice together. I started my own practice in 2013.
I enjoy trail running, reading, and spending time hiking and camping with my amazing wife Laura.