I am often asked why I became a chiropractor. I thought I’d take this week’s Health Sense article to tell you. Here is my story.
When I graduated from high school everyone expected that I would go off to university. I enrolled at Pennsylvania State University, went for one week, and decided to quit. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was paying for university myself. It just seemed silly to me to waste all that money to get a university degree when I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Much to my father’s disappointment, I began working at my uncle’s servo pumping fuel. That lasted a few months until I took a job as a mason apprentice. I enjoyed bricklaying, but the work ran out after about a year with the company. I switched over to a carpentry apprentice with a large firm that was owned by a real estate company. I was working with them for about a year when one day, as we were putting on a roof, I injured my lower back. I needed help to get down the ladder.
I experienced a bout of back pain when I was 15 and playing American gridiron. I was tackled in an awkward position, twisting my back. At that time I went to my medical doctor for treatment. I was placed on pain pills and told to use heat and bed rest. It was nearly two weeks before I was back to school. I never did return to the gridiron.
This time, I decided to visit Dr Osterberg. He was a chiropractor that I had heard a lot of good things about. He did a thorough exam and took x-rays on my first visit. He had me go home and ice my back. On the next visit, he showed me my x-rays and asked me when I injured my back before? I had forgotten to tell him about the gridiron incident. I asked him how he knew that I injured it before. He showed me a thinning disc space that indicated a previous injury. I was only 19, but already had the early signs of osteoarthritis from an injury that was not properly treated. Dr Osterberg adjusted my back and I had instant relief. I even went to my judo class that night with very little discomfort. I was impressed.
By this time I had completed my certification as a realtor. I switched from building houses to selling houses. The only problem was that I was a terrible salesman. I switched from residential to commercial real estate and did better since it mattered more about the numbers than my sales ability.
It was during this time that I woke up one morning with my jaw locked. I must have slept wrong. I couldn’t even put a spoonful of cereal in my mouth. The pain was incredible. I never thought of Dr Osterberg for my jaw. I went to my medical doctor. He didn’t have a clue as to what to do for me, so he referred me to my dentist. My dentist proceeded to grind enamel off of one side of my teeth in order to balance my bite. It didn’t work. It just made my teeth sensitive, giving me even more pain.
It was now two weeks that I suffered with my jaw. I was pretty much on a liquid diet. I was scheduled for a follow-up appointment with Dr Osterberg for my back. When I entered the treatment room, he asked how I was doing. I told him that my back was great, but my jaw was killing me. He had me lie down on my back and try to open my mouth. He then proceeded to make a gentle adjustment of my temporal mandibular joint (TMJ). My jaw immediately was able to open again. There was no pain. I was really impressed this time.
That is when I knew that I wanted to be a chiropractor. Dr Osterberg could fix me when no one else could, and he did it with just his hands. There were no needles and no pills. He used his hands. That is what the term chiropractic means – to practice using your hands.
I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1983. When my father saw my clinic badge that said Dr Benton Atkins, he got a tear in his eye and told me how proud he was of me. After 31 years in practice, I still love what I do. I certainly made the right career choice.