Joy in the Morning- An Article

Posted By: Robert A. Hayden, DC, PhD Members in the News,

Joy in the Morning

Robert A. Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC

“Tears may linger at nightfall, but there will be joy in the morning.”—King David


If you have been reading my contributions to the GRIP, you know that I really enjoy what I do for a living.    It’s so much fun that, as I told someone again today, it’s hard to call it “work,” but we do because we charge fees for it.  Nevertheless, this clinic echoes with laughter through the day.  That is how joy sounds.


There are some poignant moments, though.   I want to share one with you because it was so meaningful.  This is one of the patients whose story alone makes all the work of getting into practice worthwhile.


This man is in his mid-70s.  He served his country as a soldier in an overseas war, then worked hard to make a living and provide for his family.   Exposure to chemicals while in the service contributed to significant health issues, however, and he has multiple problems.  One of these is spinal stenosis.


Spinal stenosis is very common, particularly among “mature” folks.  “Stenosis” means a hole is not large enough.  In this case, it means the spine, or spinal nerves, are compressed in the holes where they leave the spinal column.  


Four lumbar disc herniations and some enlarged ligaments contribute to the multilevel stenosis by squeezing nerves that lead to his lower extremities.   This creates pain, numbness, and a tingling sensation going down his legs.  It also has robbed his legs of strength and coordination.  He cannot feel the soles of his feet very well, so it is difficult for him to know if his feet are on the floor, leading to balance issues.  He has needed assistance to stand and he walks only with the use of a stroller with hand brakes.  


He is blessed with a wife who adores him.   Despite her own physical issues, she lovingly does all she can to assist him, even to the detriment of her own health.  Indeed, the only reason I know of this man at all was that his wife presented for care with a lumbar strain.


After reviewing his history and performing a physical examination, I could tell that this veteran had multilevel stenosis.  This was confirmed by study of the MRI presented.   So what on earth can be done?


Modern medicine has nothing of value to offer this man.  He has many prescriptions for various other ailments, but there is no pill or potion that will help his stenosis.


But chiropractic care can help him.


Flexion distraction is a form of spinal decompression.  It is well researched and validated.   It drops the pressure inside the vertebral discs, creating a suction effect that can reduce herniations.  It widens the spinal canal by nearly one third its original girth.   As we do this, we can reduce pressure on spinal nerves and return motion to spinal joints. 


We have treated him twice.   Progress has been slow.  When he and his wife came in today for his third session, the simple statement he made was one that seemed to stop all the action and noise in the clinic for me. 


He explained that after not making much progress in the first two visits, he’d given up.  He was going to cancel his visit today.  He was in despair when he went to bed. 


But he came to his appointment this morning, and breaking into a smile, he explained,  “I got up last night and went to the bathroom.  I want back to bed and slept.   I needed no help, and I had no pain.”  


This is a first such experience in quite a while for him.  This was BIG.


I don’t mind telling you my eyes were wet as I hugged this mountain of a man.  My crew was affected as well.  And his wife rejoiced. 


Yes, he went back to bed and did not have pain.  But he said he didn’t sleep.  He spent the rest of the night praising God, from whom all blessings flow, and Who is the source of all true healing.  I think somehow you can do that instead of sleeping and awaken rested.


In a chiropractic clinic, this clinical outcome is not at all rare.  But the frequency of great outcomes never diminishes joy.   We rejoice with every patient for every victory.


We will continue to treat him and look for improved function and quality of life.  It is my goal to help him enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.  After his life of service to his country, his family, and his community, he deserves all we can give.


So I just wanted to share his story.   There may be others with spinal stenosis who have lost hope.   Some many be in despair, pain, isolation, and depression.  There is hope.


We do, indeed, rejoice with him, and with his wife.  And for this man’s improvement, and for the privilege of doing His work, I praise God as well.