It Only Seems Fair

It's time to take a break from the regularly-scheduled, fun-filled, witty insight usually provided on this forum to allow me to address an issue that is very important to me. I have been working on this post for some time now but have saved it until today because I wanted to make sure I got my point across without sounding like a whining fool. I have scheduled this article to publish on a Friday afternoon so most readers will have a chance to spend a few minutes reading over it in the next three days and, if they choose to do so, take action upon it.

I have been having fun writing this blog for the last-- let's see... how long has it been?-- three months or so. I started writing to, primarily, promote my cafepress shop, SkeetzTeez-- which I started after recovering from the stroke to explore some different creative outlets. I have found that the blog was something else artistic that I could do, too, that in many ways was even more creative. There are tons of other designers out there and, although there stuff isn't quite as cool as mine, we are basically all selling the same designs on the same merchandise while I can do my own thing with the blog... in my own style.

It's hard for an artist of any kind to get enough challenge and creative stimulus in the corporate environment. There is just not enough opportunity to act on an imaginative impulse when you are restricted by client branding standards, industry principles and business etiquette. In addition, after the life changing event that I experienced (the doctors said I took a life-inventory), I was questioning my value and the value of everything I did. I made a promise to myself that I was not going to do anything that didn't mean... something.

As I got back into my regular routine and further away from the life-and-death situation, however, my commitment to my new ideals got weaker, but the search for inspiration with the additional projects that I was involved with was paying off. It was easier to accept the medial tasks, administrative responsibilities and office politics at work all day because in the evenings and on the weekend I was able to get my fill of, what I would consider, more creative projects-- producing designs that I thought other people would like.

It's not quite fine art but at least it is art for it's own sake instead of art trying to sell something else for somebody I don't even know and, I'm sure, could care less about me. I can feel, somewhat, better for that. Additional benefits include all of the things I'm learning about business, marketing and the Internet and we can't forget that my sales have been pretty strong and I hope to turn a few bucks over the gift-giving season.

Although my brain attack was the driving factor behind all of this, as I have written on many occasions, I didn't want my blog, or anything else that I was doing to be all about the stroke. Information that I have come upon recently, though, has made me rethink this.

People under the age of 45-50 that visit a chiropractor for neck adjustments are 3-9 times more likely to have a stroke than people who don't get chiropractic treatment. Several studies support similar findings with only the factors of age and how much more common incidents of severe events occurring differing. 

I was seeing a chiropractor twice a week in the couple of months leading up to my stroke. I was being treated for middle- and upper-back pain and part of that treatment included cervical spinal adjustments. For those that have never experienced a procedure like this, it consists of the patient, lying on his or her back on a specially designed table, trying to remain relaxed as the chiropractor gently takes the patient's head with both hands, rolls it around to find the correct position and then, quickly and sharply (some would say violently) snaps the head to one side. Then he repeats the same process on the other side.

Studies of stroke patients reveal a wide spectrum of results that lend credit to both sides of the argument about whether or not this procedure ultimately contributes to the brain attack. In my opinion, as an individual that has been exposed to neck manipulation dozens of times, is that this is, by far, much more traumatic on the physical structure of the cervical spine than the action of shampooing a person's hair in a hairdresser's wash basin. You are more likely, however, to have heard that many believe there is some risk of the gentle, common, salon practice causing a stroke because the cosmetologist community doesn't have the money-- and therefore, the lawyers and the power-- that the chiropractic alliance has to keep it quiet.

I like my chiropractor. He is an acquaintance of my sister and her husband, who set me up with him for an emergency appointment the day before my wedding. Leading up to the big day, my nerves and the stress got to me, my back seized-up and I couldn't move. I credit him for the fact that I had any mobility on one of the most important days of my life. I won't go as far as to definitely blame him for my stroke but I do absolutely believe that snap to my neck caused my stroke.

The way I understand it, there are two arteries, the vertebral arteries, that run straight up the back of the neck and through two holes in the sides of each neck vertebra. When the head turns the artery is kinked and the delicate inner lining can tear. Sometimes the damage is immediate and the patient collapses right there. Sometimes mild symptoms start immediately and progress over the hours after the patient leaves the chiropractor. If the tear is small, it will clot over then, days later, the clot breaks off, travels to the brain and causes a stroke. This is what happened to me and, because of the delay, I didn't associate the two events until months later.

Chiropractors are aware of the risk but claim that it only occurs in one in a million manipulations and there is no more chance of having a stroke after chiropractic treatment as there is after visiting a general practitioner. They pro-actively spin a web of deception, throwing major dollars at propaganda campaigns to defend their position and guerrilla marketing tactics with commentary on common Internet social networks as well as their own underground forums disguised to look like public service announcements. I would not be surprised at all to soon find replies on this post from, so-called, doctors of sport medicine, denying any responsibility for such things by any member of their profession.

The complex system they have established and the massive budgets they have to work with are why I have broken from my "don't talk about the stroke" attitude and decided to write this post. It is why I have taken up the cause to inform as many people as possible about the victim's' side of the story.

Commercials on TV for women's birth control state all the benefits of a particular medication and then take the last few seconds to say something to the effect of, "this drug may cause strokes in some individuals. If you have a history of stroke, high-blood pressure or if you smoke, the risk is greater...". Then I think they go as far as to say, "... and you should not take this medication". I am not asking the chiropractic associations to go that far, but I do think it's only fair that they openly tell their patients that some studies show there is a possibility that the treatment they are going to subject you to may be hazardous to your health. Why are they not held accountable for, professionally, giving the public the information they need to make a well informed-- possibly life-or-death-- decision? 

Shortly after I was well enough to go home and continue with out-patient rehabilitation, I received a call from my Sports Medicine Doctor's Office. They did that from time-to-time if I hadn't been in for several weeks for an adjustment. I still wasn't speaking very well, at the time, but answered the phone, anyway, because I needed the practice. I could tell from the lady's voice on the other end of the line that she had no problem understanding me. Although my speech was a little slurred, as soon as she heard the word stroke, she dropped me like I was hot. I considered it a bit rude at the time, but thought it must have been because of the shock that I young man like me-- so active and full of life-- could be struck down by a horrible event like that. It didn't occur to me until later that it may have been some remote feeling of responsibility or just the mere avoidance of any liability that cut our conversation short. Funny that I never heard from the office again. You would think that, in my physical condition-- and all-- I would need some good therapy.

I have done a lot of research and have found enough evidence to convince myself. Others that have heard my story have thought enough of it that they, too, have discontinued chiropractic visits. I am, now, committed to the cause spreading my story, plus the stories of other victims so those hearing them can have enough information to form an educated opinion, become committed themselves and tell someone else.

I have developed a Squidoo Web Page to provide a resource for stroke survivors and their loved ones as well as chiropractic patients and anyone in the general public that can find it on their heart to care. The page contains video, books and other material related on strokes and stroke recovery. It also includes a list of links with valuable information about chiropractic stroke and a Guestbook to provide feedback. I hope to develop a network of patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates in this community to provide input, encourage discussion and offer support between members.

I hope this project can be a forum for all interested parties to gather and exchange information and bring awareness to the general public and potential patients-- or victims. I am going to get behind this because I think it is important, but as I do, I feel it is also important that it doesn't bother the readers of this blog or individuals in any of the many other networks I have gotten involved in. I will, however, occasionally, ask for your help.

Please take a moment and visit the Strokes and Chiropractor page. Please go through some of the information and see what you think. Please forward this blog entry to anyone that you know that you think would care-- especially anyone that visits the chiropractor (click the envelope with the arrow at the bottom of the story). Please sign the guestbook, leave your comments (click comments below), favorite and bookmark (in the side bar on the right side) the pages, give it a high rating and spread the word about it in anyway that you feel you can. I will never give away any of your personal information to anyone at any price and you may post anonymously if you wish.

If you know me-- even if it is only from this blog-- you know this is important to me and I hope you can tell that I wish no ill will on the people trying to make a living in chiropractic practices. I just want what should only be fair... for patients to be told of the possible consequences of that kind of treatment and be able to make the decision to continue care after knowing all the facts. I wasn't given that opportunity. Hey-- there are people that stroke out and die, right there, on the table! I am so thankful to God that I am blessed with a second chance. I want to do something with that chance... and this is my chance.

I don't expect to gain a thing... except the satisfaction of, maybe, helping one other person to not have to go through the challenges that other victims and I face every day.

I have never been a good public speaker so I can't make an impact on the national talk show circuit. Although I can write a bit, I don't think this story is going to be featured on Google's Blog of the Day. I can carry a tune and throw a decent slider with a Wiffleball but neither of those skills are going to help with this cause. The one thing that I do have going for me, though, is that when I put my mind to something and am willing to put some hard work into it, I can find a way to accomplish most anything. I also am privileged to know the best, most caring people in whole world that I know are going to help... because they have done it before.

Not to pressure you to take action but... what have you got to lose? My hope is that something magical happens and this thing goes viral in the next couple of weeks-- an I tell two friends and they tell two friends and they tell two friends, Pay It Forward, kind of deal. 

If you spread the word, I cannot guarantee you three wishes, a day of good luck for every person you forward the email to or that total strangers will send you money, but you may be able to have the satisfaction of passing the email on to someone in your address book, who emailed it to a guy at work, who told his wife to check out the Site, who mentioned it to a woman at church, who's son had recently been in a car accident and gotten the number of a Sports Medicine Doctor and has his first appointment for evaluation on Monday morning... so he can ask the chiropractor about the risk of being harmed by the procedure he is about to go through and expect an honest answer-- It only seems fair.

Thanks for your help. Peace.

Note to those in the chiropractic profession: I am not a doctor. I am not a writer. I am, however, an individual who had a stroke and I strongly believe that stroke was caused by chiropractic treatment. You have every right to believe something else and every right to dispute me. You have the right to remind the public that you have a diploma and boast about your years of experience. I respect your right to criticize my grammar and even to write that I am a whining fool... but not here-- this is our forum... the individuals that have gone through the experience. 

You can believe that one severe brain injury out of a million-- a statistic that I sincerely believe is grossly understated because incidents like mine that are not included in the stats as the association was not made early enough-- is not enough to worry about. I tend to think that one in a million is way too high when you consider... that could be as many as one person every day in North America. How many manipulations will you complete in your career?


Carrie said...

I was enlightened reading this bog today. I have never actually had to look to this type of therapy (thank G) for pain or mobility reasons, but I certainly wouldn't now after reading. I truly believe that mans need to "manipulate" or "band-aid" pain leads to this type of issue. Thank you for sharing your story and warning others that the potential "side effect" of having an "adjustment" could lead to, at the very least, an altered lifestyle. But, unfortunately research does show that in more cases then the chiropractic community would like us to know, leads to certain death. It not only "seems fair" that you share your story so others can take it into advisement, it is "only fair" and might I say, noble.

Melhi said...

Nice article & very informative. I would never let one of those quacks near me, anyway, but I learned a few things from you that I'll definitely bring up the next time I'm trying to convince a loved one to see a real doctor, instead! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

You are going to help someone out there to make good decisions about their health. I hope that many people out there will have the chance to read your story. You are my inspiration and I so proud of your recovery and positive attitude.