I Don't Think We Are Helping"
I was on both the receiving and giving end of this conversation and that is what makes up this edition of Overheard In The Office This Week.
Giving End: To be honest, the two most difficult things for a chiropractor (at least this one) are talking about money, and when you can't help a patient. The money part can usually be handled with good systems, grace, flexibility, and a good staff (ours is awesome!). The inability to help someone is another story. Sometimes you do all you can to help someone, and for some reason outside your control they just don't get better, sometimes they even get worse. It is a terrible feeling. You might have treated forty people that day, thirty nine were doing good, one wasn't, and guess which one occupies your brain the rest of the day ! That happened to me this week. The patient was a young guy that had fairly straightforward low back pain but with a few strange neurological signs that didn't quite add up. In our office we do a lot of "treatment is diagnostic" meaning we work for a few visits and see how the body responds, if it is showing signs of improvement we continue, if not we stop and reassess. In this case the young mans back pain wasn't getting better, and the peculiar symptoms were not improving. When he came in for his third visit I said what he was already thinking: "I don't think we are helping". He agreed and we released him to follow-up with an already scheduled neurologist. Chiropractic has an excellent success rate, but sometimes it just doesn't help!
Receiving End: When I first started in practice 30 years ago (yes that number is 30 !) and we had a patient that had been to a medical doctor prior to presenting to our office, we were thankful when the doctor chose not to dissuade a patient from coming to see us! Often times they came in in spite of a physician telling them it was dangerous (it is not). Things started to change in the early 2000's, at least in the sense that patients were not as often told negative things about chiropractic, not an endorsement but at least not a dismissal. Interestingly enough, we have often times had nurses refer patients to our office over the years, but we treat a number of them as well, they have personal experience with chiropractic. I don't believe medical doctors were being mean, in fact I think most were just looking out for what they perceived as their patients best interest. Over the last ten years we have had very few patients being encouraged not to go to a chiropractor. This week however I think I had a first: I had an 11 year old boy come in with back pain, he had been to urgent care and evaluated, and the physician did not give him medication but instead encouraged his mother to seek out a chiropractor for care! Turns out the young man is quite a soccer player and had an overuse injury, the treating medical doctor realized medication wasn't the answer, and recommended chiropractic. I have only seen him a few times, but so far so good!
Consider The Ramifications:
One of the things as a health care practioner you always try to keep in mind is: What are the ramifications of your treatment plan for the patient long term ? Sometimes like with my first patient you just have to let something that isn't working go in hopes that there is something out there better that might help. That is what I had to do, and in fact is what my medical colleague did with his patient. Hopefully it will work out for both of them!
As I considered these things, it occurred to me as 2020 was coming to an end that maybe I needed to apply this type of thinking to my world view in general. Some of the ways I have approached life has worked well for me and those close to me, other things not so much! As I become a little more "seasoned" in practice and life in general I have started to try to not hold so tightly to things, if it is working out good, go with it, if not, I might be better off referring it out!
Our prayer here at the office as we all make our way through this tumultuous year is that we might have the wisdom to know when to press into things, and when to let them go.
God Bless You This Week! Care Chiropractic Lafeyette, Indiana