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Dynamic Chiropractic – October 21, 2004, Vol. 22, Issue 22

I Was Meant to Be a Chiropractor

By Ira Kirkpatrick, DC
Editor's note: Following a childhood accident, Ira Kirkpatrick's parents were told that their child would never walk again - and then chiropractic intervened. As an adult, a series of on-the-job accidents again jeopardized Ira's ability to walk - and chiropractic was there to bring him back again. Now a chiropractor himself, Dr. Kirkpatrick shares his remarkable story with DC.

This is from memory and what my parents and siblings have told me over the years.

By the time I was 20 months of age, I had been walking and running quite well. One day, I wanted to go to the store with my dad. My mother placed me down for a nap, but I did not want to nap. When I heard the car start, I jumped up and ran outside.

As the car pulled out of the driveway, which was parallel to the road, I ran up to the back of the car. My dad looked in the rearview mirror and saw me following him down the driveway. He stopped the car; I ran into the rear bumper with my head, slid under the car, and stopped when my right thigh touched the rear tire. My dad started to back up, and when he accelerated, it was too late: He had already run over me from the right lower thigh, across the pelvis and abdomen, over the left chest and down the left shoulder.

I was taken to the hospital in our town; the doctors said I was in too bad a shape for their care, and so my parents had to take me to Abilene, which was 120 miles away. The doctors expected me to not survive the trip. However, I did survive and was placed in a body cast, which included both legs and both arms. I had multiple fractures of the right and left femurs, the pelvis, rib cage and left clavicle.

After a few weeks in the body cast, my legs began to jerk and broke the leg portion of the cast. My legs would move, but I couldn't control them. They would just "jerk" and then calm down, and then jerk again. The doctors couldn't provide any reason or explanation for this problem. The doctors sent me home with my parents and informed them that they would have to live with this uncontrollable leg problem in their child. According to the doctors, I would never walk again, and possibly never have sexual relations or father any children, due to the damage I had sustained to my spine and pelvic region.

When my parents tried to make me stand or use my legs, I would scream and cry and lie on my back, and my legs would just jerk or be very still.

Eventually, my mother took me to a chiropractor in a small town nearby, and he began working on me. The chiropractor told her that my spine and pelvis were so mangled and out of place that it would take some time to see if chiropractic treatments would help, but that it was worth a try to at least correct the alignment, even if it did not correct the leg function and allow me to walk again.

After a few visits to the chiropractor, the jerking in my legs began to lessen and become more controllable. After about two months, the doctor and my mother placed my feet on the floor, and I stood up and walked to the door of the office. I said, "I'm fixed, mommy, let's go home." I continued treatment for a few more visits and then once every couple of years.

I continued to lead a relatively normal childhood, with hard playing and just being a growing boy. I did everything all of the other kids did, and sometimes a little more. I took to running, walking and riding my bicycle more than my parents thought was reasonable, but I did not know about anything that would keep me from doing these things. Maybe ignorance was bliss for me.

I actually never knew or remembered much about the accident until I was in the 7th grade and started athletics. My mother then explained to the doctor about the injuries and the extent of them. The doctor examined me and cleared me to compete in school athletics; I played basketball and track, and was in the marching band. I also had my first job at 11, delivering door-to-door circulars on door handles for a local grocery store. This was good for me because I had the chance to walk and run.

I did many physically demanding things without any complications from the accident, so I never really thought about it. I also joined the U.S. Navy Reserve, did a tour in Vietnam and completed six years with the military, receiving an honorable discharge in 1974.

The last thing that lingered from the accident was my ability to have a sexual relationship or father children. In that day and age, you just never checked this kind of thing out until the situation presented itself. I knew nothing about this until I got married in 1968 and my mother asked Reginna (my wife) and I if we could have sexual relations. Needless to say, my parents were glad to hear that this potential problem had been resolved. However, I still did not think I could father children. After a few months without success, Reginna and I had some tests done. The report was positive: I could father children, or at least I should be able to, according to the doctors.

My father and mother both cried for an hour or so when I gave them the news. The true depth of this accident had never been revealed to me until that day. I knew that my dad had run over me, but I did not know that he was so disturbed about this that he had a cerebral hemorrhage and was in the hospital longer than I was after the accident. He was very distraught that I might not have lived a normal, happy life without complications from the injuries. A few months later, Reginna was pregnant and my parents were the first ones to know. They were elated that I could father children. This was the last hurdle to overcome from the accident.

I continued to lead a very hearty life and performed very physically demanding jobs with no problems. Occasionally, I would have some back pain or dysfunction, and I would see the chiropractor for a treatment or two.

At age 35, while in the construction business, I had three consecutive accidents on the job that again took away the ability to use my legs. I had been restricted to lifting no more than 20 pounds, but I begged the doctor to allow me to continue to work. The third accident ended my career in construction. I was carried to my pickup and placed in the driver's seat. I used a hammer to push the accelerator and brake pedal, and once I was at a fair speed, I used the cruise control to somehow get to my house.

Reginna and my son slid me over in the seat and she took me to the chiropractor's office. We arrived there at about 3.00 p.m. They had to carry me in; I could not move my legs or feel them even if you touched them or hit them. My back felt like a sharp knife had been inserted and it was being twisted every time I took a breath or tried to move.

The chiropractor worked on me until about 8:00 in the evening, at which time I could walk (with assistance) to the truck, but still could not feel my legs at all. I just knew they were still there because I could see them and touch them with my hands. Further complications were an inability to walk for more than a very short distance without severe pain, and muscle spasms, radiating numbness and pain that would suddenly bring me to a halt. I would have to wait for a spell and be very still before moving again. I was also impotent for more than six months.

Throughout this ordeal, I would not have made it without the aid and assistance of my wife and three sons. The first six months were very trying and demanding on my boys and Reginna, until I could start doing more for myself and my function improved. This did improve and after approximately two years, I had regained most of my function at a reasonably normal level.

After a few months of treatment and some recovery, Reginna and I prayed about how I needed to change my lifestyle to work with my new impairment and severe restrictions. We decided that since chiropractic had been so successful at giving me back my legs two times in my life, this was a good career choice. We felt that God was sending us along a certain path so we could help those who might have to go there as well. This was a life-altering experience for all of us, including my children.

Since that first accident, I have been an avid believer in the ability of chiropractic to do wonderful and life-changing things. It has helped us in our practice to understand others with how to deal with this type of health care. We have been on both sides of the chiropractic arena: as patients and now as care providers. We are confident that this gives us a special view and belief that not everyone has. I still get my chiropractic care regularly, and I am determined to not lose my quality of function again.

We will always remember the blessings of how such a simple health care system of chiropractic helped restore my legs and quality of life. We are also grateful that my parents had the insight to look at other options of health care to treat my first injuries, allowing me to be introduced to chiropractic at a very early age.

We are blessed with a growing practice and I get to tell my chiropractic story many times. I also enjoy receiving chiropractic care and feeling the relief and piece of mind from knowing what I am doing to maximize my own health. I want optimal health for myself and everyone.

Ira Kirkpatrick, DC
Kerrville, Texas

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