I was born into a family who considered the medical profession to be virtually infallible. Small wonder given that my father and grandfather were both M.D.s as would my one brother be in his adult life. Wellness was never discussed in the family and in fact, my pediatrician father died from a heart attack at an early age.
We now know how important lifestyle is to preventing and surviving a heart attack however back then my parent's smoking habit, social drinking and eating wonderful tasting but fat ridden foods was a common practice. One which cost both of my parents their lives before the age of 50.
It's not surprising then that I was religious about making sure that my
children received their immunizations on time, made annual pilgrimages to the doctor for health check-ups and called their pediatrician whenever an flu or cold appeared to require antibiotics to combat an ear or sinus infection. I was however left feeling uncomfortable and unsatisfied when the pediatrician told me not to worry about the three small bruises that seemed to come and go on my daughters back and the three vertebrae that seemed to me to protrude more than the others.
During the last two years, the daughter of a very close relative had
undergone major surgery at Johns Hopkins to correct a severe case of
scoliosis that had gone undetected by her pediatrician for many years.
Though mostly recovered now, her case was so severe that she now has two titanium rods in her back and will probably walk with a noticeable limp for the rest of her life. I wondered how such a condition could go undiagnosed until it had reached such a critical juncture? I know her parents were as vigilant about her health as I am with my children's. If there was a hereditary component, I wanted to be sure my daughter could be spared the physical and emotional pain that their poor child suffered.
Also during that period, I noticed that my daughters posture
seemed to becoming more stooped and less erect. Could this have a connection to the problem I have been concerned with regarding the bruises on her back, I wondered. Almost a year since her last check up, could scoliosis have started to contort her spine? I made an appointment for her annual check up two months hence and resolved to once again make the pediatrician check her spine.
In April, my daughter and I attended the Eyes of Learning spring festival at Levittown Hall. The festival is held twice a year in the spring and fall, as the primary fundraising event for this remarkable non-profit group. In addition to psychic readings, the festival also features metaphysical, holistic and spiritual vendors as well as lectures. While making our rounds of the vendors, we happened upon Doctor Patrick Kelly of Bethpage Chiropractic, who had a table at the show. With my daughter's worsening posture on my mind, I asked Doctor Kelly to take a look at her back. In addition to her stooped posture, he also pointed out that one shoulder appeared higher than the other and she seemed to hold her head at a slightly cock-eyed angle neither
of which I had noticed even though I look at her a hundred times a week!
He recommended a full chiropractic evaluation to rule out scoliosis explaining that conventionally trained doctors do not learn and thus do not have the same intimate knowledge of the back that a chiropractic professional does and would be unlikely to diagnose a problem with the alignment of the spine. He mentioned that he himself had been a victim of severe scoliosis as a child which was corrected through chiropractic intervention rather than surgery, motivating him to join the profession. I thanked Doctor Kelly and continued our shopping at the festival.
Not wanting to make my daughter suffer because my prejudice leaned towards conventional medical therapies, I made an appointment with a local Chiropractor recommended by a close friend Dr. Lenny Izzo of Huntington. At the same time, I hedged my bet by bringing her to the pediatrician the day before her chiropractic appointment. Once more, during her annual checkup the pediatrician again declared that her back to be fine.
The next day, at the Dr. Izzo's office, I was to learn quite the opposite was in fact true. While the side-to-side spine curvature associated with scoliosis was not present, an excessive curvature
of her lower spine from front to back was a problem. This was causing those three vertebrae I had been concerned about to protrude more than normal. In addition, her stooped posture was the body's way of compensating to keep her weight balanced. I also learned her cock-eyed head position was related to maintaining balance from side to side because her hip was out of alignment.
While she was lying on the table, the Doctor showed me how one leg was actually shorter than the other, not from a birth defect but because her spine was out of position! Visions of painful surgery and recovery raced through my mind. I was both relieved and skeptical when he said that with just a few "adjustments" she would be good as new without any invasive surgery. To my utter amazement, following the "pretzel", "popcorn" and some other kid friendly named chiropractic maneuver my daughter's posture, back curvature and uneven leg length was completely fixed! I simply could not believe my eyes. My daughter was able to maintain this corrected alignment for more than two weeks before her
muscle memory caused the alignment to shift back into its old comfortable pattern. Because she is young, the Doctor says a few more adjustments at gradually lengthening intervals should be all that is needed to resolve the problem. He also recommended monthly "maintenance" visits to correct any newly developing alignment issues which are not an unexpected by-product of a childs active lifestyle.
It's been more than 4 months now and I can't help but wonder about a few things. If my Pediatrician father had still been alive, would his and my mindset have been too firmly entrenched in the conventional medical techniques to have considered a chiropractic solution, to the detriment of my own daughter's health? Would I have even pursued a diagnosis concerning my daughters back condition or would I have written it off to kids and sloppy posture had it not been for the severe case of scoliosis in our family member? Could this family member possibly have been spared a life threatening and debilitating surgery if her pediatrician had suggested a chiropractic evaluation? How many other children are suffering needlessly because thay have not been made aware of or were not open to an "alternative" treatment option? We'll never know the answer to any of the questions of course but I am convinced that in many cases things DO happen for a reason and God works in many strange ways and through many people.