Honoring Your Patients Through Life's Rules

Honoring Your Patients
Through Life's Rules

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
Send all comments or additions to:

Thanks to Today's Chiropractic for permission to reproduce this article!

William D. Esteb

One of the greatest temptations for a chiropractor is to make your patient’s health problem your problem. This is an especially common mistake among male chiropractors who see “fixing things” as a major source of self-worth. (This is why we don’t like to ask for directions—it makes us feel incompetent.) This internalizing predisposition only obscures opportunities to grow the patient’s understanding and appreciation of chiropractic.

Other chiropractors, with the notion of “converting” a skeptic or “proving” chiropractic works, find themselves in an equally unhealthy place in their patient relationships. In their determination to win over the patient, they fail to see their own selfish motives. While they appear to care about the patient, their real motivation is to gain acceptance and validation. Either way, the chiropractor has made the relationship about themselves, rather than the patient.

Like a bull in a china closet, these self-centered chiropractors overlook the more subtle nuances of what they are witnessing. Turn your attention to patients, subvert your ego for a moment or two, and become present to some of these truths:

Truth: Symptoms are merely a sign of the body’s adaptation process.

Fortunately, instead of failing all together, our bodies provide signals that something isn’t working correctly. Our inability to adapt to our environment produces headaches, heartburn and a host of other symptoms, including subluxations. (Yes, subluxations are symptoms!) So rather than death, our bodies provide a warning system that some prefer to ignore (neglect) or simply numb (drugs). Rather than rushing in too quickly to turn off the alarm out of some selfish sense of duty or as a way to bolster your worth, help patients attach a new meaning to their presenting health problem. Pain has purpose.

Truth: There is a lesson to be learned from their body’s signaling.
In the doctor-centered practice, often the lesson the patient is supposed to learn is the importance of regular chiropractic checkups. In other doctor-centered practices, the lesson is about some new thing called a subluxation. In fact, at a deeper level, that’s not the lesson at all. The real lesson is they broke “the rules.” One way to look at life is to recognize that there are universal rules that affect our well-being. Any attempt to ignore, bend or break these rules will be rewarded with signs and symptoms. It’s all pretty simple really.

Truth: Their symptoms are not a form of “punishment.”
The health complaints that prompt patients to seek care from a doctor aren’t some form of Godly retribution. It’s merely a reminder in the same way that ignoring the law of gravity isn’t punished with a broken crystal vase when it is accidentally dropped. In other words, symptoms shouldn’t be seen as a form of judgment or celestial sentence. There’s no emotion here, unless the patient or caregiver opts to attach one.

The fact is, most patients show up in a healthcare practitioner’s office because they’ve broken the rules. And with all rules there is a consequence for breaking them. Sporting events have rules. Break the rules and you can receive a 10-yard penalty or you can be ejected from the game. Chances are, the people you see don’t even know the rules! Imagine attempting to play chess, rugby or any other game without knowing the rules. By the time you’ve exhausted the trial and error process in an attempt to learn the rules, you’d lose interest or give up all together. You probably meet people, especially those that have already exhausted medical solutions to their problem, in this state of affairs. Thus, acquainting patients with the rules might be even more valuable than helping them with their presenting health problem.

What are the rules? Fortunately, there aren’t too many. In no particular order, here are the ones I know about:

You shall breathe. It’s the most obvious thing we do after we’re born to declare our independence. If you stop breathing, breathe in a shallow manner or inhale pollutants, there will be a price to be paid.

You shall ingest nutrition. Eating quality food is needed to provide the essential vitamins, enzymes and minerals to fuel, grow and repair your body. If you don’t receive the quality nutrition your body needs, you’ll pay the price later. The same goeswith eating too many of the foods that may taste good, but aren’t good for you.

You shall expel wastes. What goes in, must come out. If it comes out too quickly you’ll suffer. If it takes too long to come out you’ll suffer as well. As important as this rule is, most patients are clueless how long it takes for the food they eat to go through the “tube” and be expelled.

You shall have proper hydration. We’re made mostly of water. Replacing what is lost to facilitate crucial bodily functions is essential. The key is to drink enough fluids so we never feel thirsty.

You shall move. You were designed to move. A sedentary lifestyle causes stagnation, poor circulation and hampers the function of the lymphatic system while muscle tone suffers.

You shall receive enough rest. Your body needs time to renew, refresh and repair. This is done largely at night while enjoying restful sleep. Your body will quickly speak up if it needs more or less sleep.

You shall adapt to your environment. Your nervous system orchestrates every cell and tissue. That’s why chiropractic care is so essential for good health. Once you stop adapting, you’re dead.

You shall love. You are the product of love. Love yourself and love others. The more you give away, the more you’ll get.

You shall forgive. You will make mistakes. You will hurt others. You will fall short of the mark. Forgive others as you forgive yourself. And then do better next time.

You shall serve others. Your life will have meaning and value only to the extent you find someone to serve. Break this rule and your selfishness isolates you.

You shall see this as a journey. There’s nowhere to get to. You will leave this world as you came into it. With nothing. Become attached to nothing.

You shall die. Many try to break this one. Even medicine sees death as a disease state. It’s natural. It’s inevitable. It’s even healthy.

Ignore or break any of these rules and there is a price to be paid, based on the seriousness of the infraction. For example, you can go for a period without getting enough restful sleep. The consequence for breaking that rule is different from say, ignoring the obligation to forgive others. Yet, breaking any one of the rules can have a physical, emotional or spiritual price tag that is paid instantly or much later.

There’s one other rule that speaks specifically to chiropractors and other wellness care professionals: You shall not steal the patient’s responsibility. Break this one and practice becomes a burden, resentment sets in and you end up breaking some of the other rules. Vow to facilitate, rather than fix. Promise to release, rather than control. Declare your intent to guide, rather than prescribe.

William Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate for over two decades. He is the creative director of Patient Media, Inc., a patient communication resource company for the chiropractic profession. Review his materials and request a free 64-page New Patient catalog by visiting www.patientmedia.com or calling (800) 486-2337.

Copyright Today's Chiropractic


                       © 19952022 ~ The Chiropractic Resource Organization ~ All Rights Reserved