Health, Wellness, & Self Care,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings

What quitting chiropractic taught me about myself

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I have a secret confession: I haven’t visited the chiropractor in over a year. Chiropractic has been a part of my life since I was about seven years old. But here’s what happened when I quit:

It started last fall when I delivered my second baby via cesarean section after a 30-hour labor. Chiropractic was an integral part of my pregnancy and birth process. I even hired my chiropractor to attend to me during labor. I love her. She is amazing and acted as a second doula to me. Her moral support was something I will feel indebted to her forever.

But chiropractic care, while it may have offered me some relief from the aches and pains from pregnancy, didn’t keep me from having a c-section.

I’m not bitter. I’m not upset. I have no regrets about Little Brother’s beautiful birth. It taught me so much. It kept me from giving up on God.

But a few weeks later, my husband and I got into a fight because he found out how much chiropractic care was costing us. I tried to explain how worth it chiropractic was. How much we NEEDED it. He couldn’t hear it. All he could see was dollar signs and the mountain of our debt growing and growing and growing.

You see, he wasn’t convinced that chiropractic was all it promised to be. So he cut me off. He said, “Until we are truly taking care of ourselves by exercising, eating well, cutting our sugar intake, and reducing our stress levels – things that we KNOW FOR SURE will improve our health – I don’t want us spending any more money on chiropractic.” 

I’ll be honest. I was mad.

But, he had a point. I would drive 45 minutes to the chiropractor, taking up my entire morning – then hit McDonalds on the way back because I was starving. Not cool, really.

So I acquiesced.

At the same time, I continued to process through what happened during the birth of both of my boys and started looking into the “other side” of birth “research.” (See: Why didn’t my baby’s head fit?) I started spending more time lurking on pro-science, pro-medicine, pro-vaccine websites and Facebook pages. It all started snowballing for me. I learned that there isn’t a lot of scientific backing for chiropractic, babies die because of bad birth advice, and that MAYBE EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW ABOUT HEALTH WAS ACTUALLY A SHAM.

I didn’t know what to do. It was terrifying.

You see, for my entire adult life, I have worn my physical limitations as sort of this badge that defines me. “Look at me. I’m a mom with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia and food allergies. I had a traumatic birth. I have it so hard! You just don’t understand what it’s like to be me!”

I wrote an entire 31 Days blog post series about how to prepare for an empowering VBAC and all of the sudden I was scared that I was giving out advice that might “empower” women at the expense of the life and health of their children.

I kept it mostly to myself. When I did share stuff, I was attacked. I was blocked. I was unfriended. By people I really loved and cared about.

I started asking myself really really hard questions:

Was Ezra’s birth really traumatic?

Did I put Little Brother’s life in danger because I was so intent on “getting my VBAC”?

Have I worn the badge of physical limitation so long that I am selling myself short?

If my body’s healing powers are so amazing, then why do I need to go to the chiropractor three times a week to facilitate that healing?

It was like facing legalistic fundamentalism all over again – this time with a new belief system that I had also clung to my entire life. (The parallels between these two belief systems are actually incredibly similar, but that’s another post for another day.)

And so, at my husband’s urging, last October, I quit chiropractic.

I have a secret confession: I haven't visited the chiropractor in over a year. Chiropractic has been a part of my life since I was about seven years old. But here's what happened when I quit:

I also quit all supplements, essential oils, eating organic, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, cloth diapering, and pretty much everything else “crunchy” I had spent my husband’s hard-earned money on over the years. I bought  products like 409, Secret deodorant, and shampoo and soap WITH parabens (horror of horrors). I even got my annual flu shot.

I stopped living in fear of doctors, medication, and chemicals. I stopped thinking I knew better than super-smart people who have dedicated their lives to studying the human body and disease. I stopped listening to self-important mommy bloggers who were telling me what to eat, what supplements to take, and what oils to use. I stopped worrying about the 1001-ways-you-are-giving-your-kids-cancer-today posts that would show up on my Facebook feed.

In November, at our wit’s end as parents, we put our son on ADHD medication. In February, I went on Zoloft. In April, I started feeding my 8-month-old baby formula. And as of 4:00 today, I’m going on an IBS medication and going off all elimination diets after five years of no improvement in my digestive symptoms.

I hear you naysayers shaking your head. You’ve traded a natural lifestyle for a hand full of pills and formula?!?!?! 

No, not really.

But what I did do is stop spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on chiropractic, supplements, oils, and a gargantuan natural grocery bill and now pay about $11 per month for Zoloft and $2 a month for Concerta and Ritalin.

It started as an experiment to reduce our expenses, but my health has actually improved, not declined.

I look back over the last year and see such growth, such change, such peace. I see myself getting stronger, because I believe I’m capable of more than I’ve ever dreamed.

I see myself making my bed almost every day, keeping up with the laundry and housework, decluttering, waking up before my kids, and exercising almost daily. I’m climbing mountains and lifting weights.

Eight months of Zoloft has done more for my health than years of chiropractic ever did. Because once I stopped living in a state of “OH NO! MY LIFE IS SOOOOO HARD!!! MY BODY IS BROKEN!!! C-SECTIONS ARE TRAUMATIC!!! DOCTORS ARE OUT TO GET ME!!! AND EVERYTHING IS TOXIC!!!”I was able to stop stressing and enjoy living.

For years, I have checked out of the grocery store nearly in tears because I was choosing to buy the healthiest food, cleaning products, and cosmetics for my family – at the expense of our budget. I would stand there looking at that little screen that would pop up and say, “Amount OK?” and my inner voice would scream NO! IT’S NOT OKAY!! But I would click OK anyway because I thought I was doing what was best for my family.

Yes – Russ, Ezra, and I now take prescription drugs every day. BECAUSE THEY WORK AND MAKE OUR LIVES SO MUCH BETTER.

If you don’t believe me, believe this:

  

 

#littlebrother just drank his first bottle ever of 100% @gerber formula! You know what I’m thankful for? Growing. The ability that God has given us as moms to make good choices for our babies…even if they fall far different from those around us, or even those of our former self! With Ezra, we nursed for 29 months and attended every @lalecheleagueusa meeting we could. No bottles, no paci. But that was then and this is now. I’m not totally the same Mommy I was then. I’ve learned my personal limits. I’ve learned how to set boundaries. I’ve learned how to be more balanced and prioritize self care. I’ve learned that yes, “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” but that I’m a person too. How long will we nurse? Honestly, I don’t know. We will be taking it one feeding at a time, evaluating what we BOTH need in that moment. It’s bittersweet, but I’m so thrilled!! #weaning #fedisbest #saneisbest @lansinohusa #lansinohlove A photo posted by Aprille (@beautyinhistime) on

 

During the duration of intensive in home services, our team utilized art therapy (specifically drawing) to encourage Ezra to express his feelings. It got added to his coping skills chart. He’s had a rough week or so and several times has been melting down or right on the verge. The last three times I’ve basically just thrown construction paper and markers his way and he has instantly calmed down – each time drawing the situation that made him upset, his face as he is feeling, or something along those lines. Today, he drew a volcano (another recurring theme from therapy). In the picture on the left, the volcano represents his angry and explosive feelings. As he drew, he turned the picture over and drew the volcano cooling down, at which point the lava trickles to the bottom and the rest of the volcano turns to coal. He explained that this was what was happening in his body- and has been calm ever since! I thought it was super cool! Yay for progress! #arttherapy #adhd #specialneeds

A photo posted by Aprille (@beautyinhistime) on

I’ve stopped wearing my pain and physical limitations as a badge of honor. I’ve stopped being traumatized by a surgery that gave me two beautiful precious boys. I’ve chilled the heck out and seen everyone in my family do the same.

In short: I’ve stopped living my life as a martyr.

I’m not saying everyone should do what I have done. But I felt like I needed to be honest and “come out of the (natural health) closet” for you guys because I’m a different and better person now having made these choices.

20 Comments

  • Dave LS

    Congrats on the healthy transition, the progress, the new-found wisdom, and welcome to reality. And you’re absolutely right–chiropractic is, largely, a religious crock.

    • katherine ness

      You were going to a bad chiropractor if you are having to go 3 times a week and if you CHOSE to live that lifestyle. Key focus-it was all in your head. You needed NUCCA care. Its one adjustment every 2 years. Get your head on straight and everything falls in place.

  • Elise Sampson

    Great article…I can so relate. We spent thousands of dollars on supplements, therapies, etc for our special needs daughters and got ourselves into some serious debt. Somewhere in the journey we began to trust in our wisdom rather than God’s healing. I started operating under so much guilt of “Not doing enough” that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. We had to just stop all of it for a season and trust God had everything well in hand. Today we take a few supplements (under Dr. supervision) but we try to operate from a place of grace rather than legalism. Anything that steals my PEACE can’t stay.

    • Aprille

      I love this comment, and relate to it so much. We have had to back off of some therapies as well, because it was more stressful trying to make sure we were DOING ALL THE THINGS that it became unhealthy for us. Sometimes, a little bit of a good thing can turn into an obsession! Been there, done that!

  • Amanda

    Preach! I, too, have relented and given in to doing things that before (in my early 20s) I believed to be succumbing to commercialism. But my antidepressant helps me be productive, my child’s formula kept me sane through the newborn stage, and her prescription hydrocortisone keeps her from scratching at her eczema until she bleeds…and that is something that coconut oil just couldn’t do. 🙂 She is also current on her vaccinations. I’m pretty sure everything in my shower is laden with parabens but I’m not dead yet. I’m so glad you’re feeling better!

  • Dylan hernandez

    Congrats on your new road to health! I think this article would be more appropriately titled “How I took control of my health”. I’m a chiropractic student and I’ll be the first to tell you, this is my GOAL for every patient. Although it is true that some Chiros believe you need to be adjusted constantly throughout your life to maintain your health (which I would agree with the other commenter that this is religious quackery) most of us do not. Your husband is 100% correct in what you needed to do to be healthy. A good Chiro should guide your journey of exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes and use manual therapy as an adjunct when it is necessary. Keep up the excellent work and again, congrats on your choice to take control of your own health.

  • Jason Davis

    Well done, as a Chiropractor I am glad to hear this. Chiropractors should be there when you need help for pain and symptoms, for advice, diagnosis and treatment, we are not a lifestyle or wellness profession and I and many of my evidence informed colleagues are sorry that you felt like you needed to become dependent on what I assume was ongoing preventative adjustments and so called “natural therapies”. Clearly the financial stress this caused outweighed any benefit you were getting. Modern chiropractors are more interested in getting you to recognise how resilient you are without dependence and yes we also believe that medication can be useful, and its not evil!

    • Aprille

      Every chiropractor I’ve been to has advocated for a lifestyle of chiropractic wellness care. Is there a good place to find chiropractors who are more evidence-informed?

  • Shelby

    I just want to say thank you for your honesty and open-ness. I feel like the society we live in is really bent on beating us up for our decisions. I feel like no matter what decisions we make (crunchy or mainstream,) someone will tell us how we are wrong. I feel like as mothers we need to spend more time empowering and supporting each other. What is right for one person may not be right for another, what has worked in the past may not work in the future. I think the most important thing is that you make an educated decision based on facts not fears. Looking at the benefits and negatives of both sides. The decision you feel the Lord wants you to choose for your family… I have 3 children in a lower income household and am constantly suprising myself at how “crunchy” I really am. I grew up in a crunchy household. I believe in chiropractic, but have been adjusted once in the last 8 months. My husband and I try to choose “crunchy” things that we feel give us the most benefit for the cost. We refuse to go in debt for a specific living style. Example, instead of taking all supplements reccomended for me I choose to take only vitamin D and digestive enzymes. The vitamin D has done wonders for my anxiety and the enzymes keep my stomach aches away so I can actually function. We do not eat organic, but I try to be gluten free as much as I can by homemaking food. I buy ajax dish soap and All free and clear laundry detergent (just what works for us and our budget.)… I am excited that you have found what works for your family. I pray that you continue to do what is best and works for you and your family no matter what path that takes you down. Love and blessings to you!

    • Aprille

      Thank you so much, Shelby, for your understanding and sweet comment. I agree. I think that no matter what decisions we make, someone is going to think we are wrong. I’m all about setting that aside to support other moms!

  • Susan Memmer

    I’m really late to the game here. I just wanted to say that chiropractic care is not a sham…it’s not. I’ve used it off and on for the last 20 years, ever since I dislocated my hip spectacularly in a high school basketball game. I’ve spent way less on pain medication and doctor visits by using my 24 visits a year to the chiropractor. I don’t pop pain meds, which is what happened when I stopped using the chiropractor because my husband thought it was useless, until I was in so much pain I ended up at the doctor and left with a prescription for an opiate that was supposedly going to cure me but only masked the real problem. My spine was compressed and curved from lack of care which probably had something to do with my bad exercise habits and unhealthy weight as well. With chiropractic care, my spine straightened and I gained back the inch in height I had lost over time. Any one of you who says their isn’t research to support chiropractic is either reading it from an unreliable source or just repeating what they heard another unreliable source say. The only caveat for me is that if I was in better physical condition, similar to the author’s husband when he said they needed to do all the things with diet and exercise that they should be, I probably wouldnt have to use chiropractic nearly as often or at all.

  • Richard E. Mitchell

    I feel like I’m reading a story of someone breaking free from a cult… haha. Congratulations! And to be clear, I’m not knocking chiropractic or any of the other stuff you were doing, but when it comes to the point of obsession, it does become a little… cult-ish…

  • Lisa

    I so understand this! Our son suffers due to early childhood trama… after years of struggle trying every natural remedy our family felt lost. Nothing worked well and most very little . We felt so guilty succumbing to dreaded medicine! But, we are finally thriving- because of modern medicine.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Larry the healthier, thanks to chiropractic care person.

    So many dumb people period…….. Crooked, mis-aligned spinal bones put pressure on nerves that control all body functions, and cause all kinds of problems. Chiropractic alignment care removes this pressure and allows the body to function and be healthier. A little common sense can go a long way if you’ll let it.

  • Wesley

    Hello! My wife, mother-in-law and several family friends are convinced they need to go to the chiropractor. They don’t have any symptoms other than “ I need to go to the chiropractor to get checked for imbalances.”

    They have drank the cool-aid of chiropractics. I did confront my wife about my un-belief a few months ago. She looked up and saw blogs reporting the lack of evidence supporting chiropractics and said she understood where I was coming from and that she would go to the chiropractor every other month instead of every month.

    Any ideas on how I can help our budget and save my wife’s time by getting her to stop going? My only real idea right now is an authoritative “I’m your husband, I want you to trust me to lead you, and I want you to stop going to the chiropractor.”

    Any help is appreciated!

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