Next Monday, October 10, will mark the 28th anniversary of my official opening of my practice. I say ‘official’ because I had already been seeing someone for a couple of weeks who had called me in utter desperation. When I told her that I wasn’t open yet, she asked if I could refer her to someone else. Well, I wasn’t going to let her go, so I told her that if she didn’t mind putting up with my office in total disarray then I would be happy to see her. We made an appointment to meet the next day.
When I was in school I heard that “Your first patient will come crawling in the door!” That would have been true, because if she could have, she would have. I watched her walk in which was extremely difficult for her. She was extremely antalgic which meant that she was bent and twisted to one side. I had her fill out the initial form and took her into my exam/adjusting room to examine her on my brand new chiropractic adjusting table!
I performed a flawless exam. One that my teachers back at the Palmer College of Chiropractic would have been proud of. I did all the right orthopedic and neurological tests that told me she had a herniated disc at the level of the fifth lumbar vertebra in her lower back. Yep! I was so proud of myself! Then it hit me, I didn’t know what to do about it! In school they taught us how to perform exams, and how to adjust, but it never occurred to me that they didn’t teach us how to put it together.
I don’t remember if I attempted to adjust her that day or not. I’m sure I must have tried something then told her to come back the next day. Then I called my best friend Mike Zeigler who was practicing in Silver Springs, Maryland. Mike and I had gone to Bowling Green together, and he was the one who told me that I should become a chiropractor when I was finishing my master’s degree and didn’t know what to do with my life. Well four years later, a marriage and a baby on the way convinced me that I did need to do something more in my life than work in the lab at the Cleveland Clinic.
So I called Mike and said “What do I do?” He laughed and said “Toggle the SOB!” Toggling is a chiropractic technique of setting up on a vertebra and delivering a fast, high impulse thrust into it and releasing right away. The SOB in question was the fifth lumber vertebra. The next day when she came in, that’s exactly what I did. She screamed! I tried not to show that I got scared that I hurt her, but she was actually a little better. And in about 3 months of constant care she really was better.
On October 10, I had four patients scheduled – our friend that I mentioned and three others. And my practice took off from there. In those early days, when I met someone who had been in practice for 10 years I marveled at them! Now I have 28 years under my belt. Back then I was “the new kid”, now I have the oldest practice on the west side as far as I know. Literally thousands of people have been through my doors, and today there are a couple of people who are still with me from close to when I started. That’s what amazes me and am so grateful for that!
These days I get asked if I ever plan on retiring. Usually they ask with a little fear in their voices because they are afraid that I will have a date in mind. I don’t ever plan on retiring, it’s still too much fun! So here’s to the next 28 years!