What is your prized possession and what is it worth to you? For many, perhaps it is a car, a boat, a horse or other valuable possession. Now think about what it would mean to you to lose it. How would your life be impacted? Do you actively protect it? Do you maintain it? Do you invest in it? Would losing it impact your joy?
It dawned on me recently that I am a lousy chiropractic patient. I am a hypocrite. If I were my own patient, I’d frustrate me. I’m non-compliant and I de-prioritize taking care of myself. For reasons unknown, I’ve traditionally failed to see my physical self as a valuable possession worth protecting, maintaining and investing in. Not until recently did I take a critical look at how I deliver care and search for efficiencies, ergonomic advantages, and opportunities to protect myself from potential potholes that could result in injury or impairment.
Create a Plan
As the aging process ceases to relent, each year naturally brings with it a few more aches, pains, tightness and, sadly, strength loss. Those changes are a surety unless you have, and more importantly, follow a plan. If we were our own patient, we would enthusiastically create a plan for adjustments, nutrition, stretching, exercising and stress relief. We would assess for ergonomic opportunities for decreasing daily damage to our patient. We would set goals, timeframes, and objectives and expect the patient to comply with our recommendations.
Too often we DCs fail to see our body (physical machine) as the tremendously valuable asset it is. Our physical self is worth protecting the way we would our other possessions. We stumble into a self-induced amnesiac state of forgetting we are also humans who need upkeep. At best, we may drop in on one another from time to time for a “quick adjustment” and leave it at that. Problem is, that it doesn’t work so well for many.
For me personally, this is year 25 of being a DC. The older docs will agree and the younger docs need to listen intently: this profession is hard on us physically. We are the blue-collar workers of health care. Protect yourself. Practice efficiently, use good technique, and think things through. Think about how you can work smarter, not harder. Look for opportunities to minimize the wear and tear on your body, especially your hands, arms, and spine.
One recent change for me was purchasing a hand-held device for hand protection during AP thoracic manipulations. I purchased two different devices, and clearly, my favorite is one called the Guardian (anterioradjusting.com). It has been a tremendous help in decreasing the serial micro-traumas to my hand. The bonus with this change for me is that I feel the AP technique is actually improved using the handheld device, versus the traditional loose-fist technique.
Another change was discussing technique and positioning with a local colleague. The treatment room and the adjusting table are a sacred place where we are often in isolation with our patients. We aren’t under the watchful eye of technique instructors, and, as such, we can develop bad habits and sloppy technique. My colleague and I shared commonalities and differences we see in each other’s adjusting techniques, and we both left learning something new.
A few changes I’ve made that have helped in the office include delegating tasks that don’t require my absolute attendance. I’ve had to lighten my grip on controlling things that staff are very capable of performing. This allows me to focus on “doctor things” and empowers staff to take ownership of other aspects of office operations. Removing the bottleneck to increased production meant I had to take myself out of some situations and trust that the staff was properly trained to handle those tasks.
In closing, I hope you protect, maintain and invest in your most important clinical and physical asset: you. You are the engine that moves the train and many, many people are counting on you to keep it moving forward.