Lessons from Waiting Tables

I waited tables throughout chiropractic school.  It actually made for a good break from the studying and sitting in class all day.  It was nice to get up and move around.

One day, I had a table with a rather rambunctious kid. His nickname was, appropriately enough, Turbo. Little Turbo couldn’t sit still. He kept fidgeting in his seat and moving around as he was distracted by everything around him. When it was time for me to bring the food, I approached the table carrying numerous plates. I couldn’t put Turbo’s plate down because his hands were right on the table in front of him and his head was twisted in another direction because he was distracted by something else.  I asked him several times to move his hands, but he was unable to hear me. Knowing the plate wasn’t hot enough to burn him, I was carrying it after all, I set the plate right on top of his hands and held it steady. The sensation of the plate on top of his hands wasn’t enough to bring his attention around to it. Holding the plate while the parents smiled and nodded approving, I waited patiently for the heat of the plate to begin to register on his hands. Sure enough, after about half a minute his hands got warm enough that he pulled them away as he swung his head over to look at what was going on. At that point, I was able to finish placing the plate on top of the table and continue with the rest of the table.

This is a small example of how patients finally make it to the chiropractor. They have some minor pain or issue that they are able to overlook for some time. Maybe they ignore the pain. Maybe they cover it up temporarily with pain medication. In many cases this process may go on for years, as opposed to Turbo’s half a minute. As the situation eventually worsens over time, it begins to register more on their nervous system. It becomes something they can’t ignore.  This is often the point when it starts to affect that person’s life and keeps them from doing the things they could previously do without limitation. When they reach this point, they begin to seek solutions. This is when the patient comes to see me. When I ask them what is going on, they usually complain of pain. I have to realize that the issue is not only the pain, but how the pain is hindering their lives.

My job is to remove the stress on their nervous system that is causing the pain, the metaphorical plate, so the body can heal itself. This will allow patients to more fully live their lives. Just as Turbo was finally able to enjoy his dinner.

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