A 50-Year Journey Through Chiropractic
50 years – wow. It was 50 years ago that I walked on stage at the Masonic Auditorium in Davenport, Iowa, to receive my diploma.Those were heady days, a lifetime-and-a-half ago. Over the door as we entered the classroom building were the words, "Enter to Learn How"; over the door as we left were the words, "Go Forth to Serve."
The late Dr. Kitlinger used to tell his classes, "Ladies and gentlemen, if there is a bone out of place causing a person to be sick, move the bone." We were filled with idealism; there were millions of sick people in the world, and we had the answer for a lot of them – we were going to heal them. We were motivated by a compassion to heal the sick, not by money.
Like several of my classmates, I was a chiropractic miracle cure. In childhood, I had suffered severe grand mal epilepsy – before chiropractic care. David's mother was unable to conceive in 20 years of marriage before chiropractic (after him, she had three more children). Bill was the only known survivor (up to that time) of TB of the heart. There were several others. We all knew the efficacy of chiropractic care.
Our enthusiasm was rampant in Davenport. Many students would cross Brady Street and, in the middle of the street, put their hands together and do a simulated toggle recoil movement while traffic passed by.
There were still three states – New York, Massachusetts and Louisiana – that did not have chiropractic licensure yet. There was no Medicare. Depending on the state, there was limited Medicaid, worker's comp, no-fault and other insurance coverage. There were no 140,000 diagnostic and treatment codes. Record-keeping was simpler, and more directed to health changes and chiropractic relational care, status, improvement and evaluation.
I interned with the great Dr. J. Clay Thompson. (I probably use the oldest Thompson Terminal Point Table, which I got at graduation.) He taught me the concept of not limiting my view and procedure to only what is taught in class and clinic, but to try to use additional methods as well. This has worked well for me.
On a couple of occasions, I have applied pressure to the supraorbital notch and corrected subluxations of the occipital-atlas articulation. On another occasion, a woman who had been very ill for a long period of time, and had received tremendous results under chiropractic care, came to me with a malingering problem: periodic headaches. Because of her work, she had moved quite often, using a number of good chiropractors, and finally came to me.
I was no more successful in relieving her periodic headaches than the others. But then one day, she came in also complaining about her feet. I adjusted her feet and gave the middle toe of her right foot a tug. It sounded like snapping a dry stick. A couple of seconds later, she exclaimed, "It's gone. The feeling I always get underlying my headaches is gone." It was a long time before she had another headache.
I was blessed to know many of the greats in chiropractic. B.J. was still alive and around when I was at Palmer. Dr. Dave Palmer gave me my diploma. Dr. Doug Cox of the Gonstead Clinic was a classmate. Dr. Glenn Stillwagon (of Pierce-Stillwagon technics) was a good friend. Dr. Glenn Hultgren, co-founder of the Christian Chiropractors Association, is a friend, as is Dr. Lora Tanis, pediatric researcher and instructor. I have had the good fortune to sit under the tutelage of a great number of superb leaders and teachers.
Coincidently with my 50 years in chiropractic, this is the 60-year celebration of the founding of the Christian Chiropractors Association, of which I have been a member for 53 years. [See "Looking Back: Christian Chiropractors Association Celebrates 60 Years," April 1, 2013 issue.] Besides being concerned with the physical well-being of people through chiropractic care, we are also concerned with the spiritual needs of people.
Members of the association have been chiropractic pioneers as missionaries for more than three-quarters of a century. Every year, members of the association go on short-term missionary trips around the world, taking care of thousands of patients. I have been on almost 30 trips to Jamaica, Grenada, Honduras, and Togo and Benin in Africa. (As far as I know, I was the first chiropractor to visit either of the latter two countries.)
The national language of Togo and Benin is French, but there are some 25 tribal languages. My interpreter, Toma, knew French, English and a couple of the tribal languages - but nothing about chiropractic. All he knew was that I was going to take care of people with headaches, neckaches and backaches (everyone has these conditions there from carrying 50-75-lbs worth of weight on their heads at any given time).
On the third patient I saw, I examined their spine and told the translator of another health problem. He looked at me skeptically and asked the patient about it, which the patient confirmed. Toma then looked at me quizzically. After seven such accurate confirmations, I then explained the simple relationship between the brain, the spine, spinal nerves, and the glands and organs, finishing with the statement, "The body does not lie."
I continued this analysis with the next 100-plus patients, with a very high percentage of accuracy. I then said to Toma, "What did I tell you?" He replied, "The body does not lie." He began understanding chiropractic.
Fifty years for me; 60 years for the CCA. Both have been great journeys that I am glad I did not miss.
Frederick Vlietstra, DC
Breaking Olympic Ground: Giving Credit to Dr. Goodheart
The article by Dr. Leroy Perry was certainly exciting to read. [See "Remembering Joe Weider (1920-2013): Chiropractic Loses One of Its Greatest Supporters" in the May 15, 2013 issue.] Dr. Perry did convey how hard Mr. Weider worked for the chiropractic profession. Without a doubt there was not enough written about Mr. Weider in the past and the respect he deserved.
However, there was some misinformation in the article. Dr. Perry wrote that the USOMC "was forced to officially appoint a chiropractor to the U.S. Olympic medical team in 1984." That was the second chiropractor. Dr. Perry's statement needs some modification. Yes, the USOMC did appoint the first chiropractor, but it was in 1980. Dr. George J. Goodheart was the first official U.S. chiropractor on the USOC medical staff. More people should recognize this achievement by Dr. Goodheart.
Jeffrey Weber, MA, DC, DCBCN, FACCN
Editor's note: Both Dr. Weber and Dr. Perry are correct, in a manner of speaking: The U.S. Olympic Medical Committee appointed Dr. Goodheart to serve on the medical staff for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. However, Dr. Goodheart, the medical team and U.S. athletes were unable to participate due to a U.S. boycott prompted by the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Dr. Goodheart became the first DC to serve on the Olympic medical staff for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., but a chiropractor did not participate in the Summer Olympics until four years later.
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