Behind the Scenes

behindscenes1[While attending chiropractic college in the early 90’s, my wife, Keri, wrote an article about what it was like being married to a chiropractic student.  The article was published in my chiropractic college’s newspaper on two different occasions and received rave reviews — not from my fellow colleagues, but their spouses!  Apparently her story resonated with many.  In any event, this is a rare peek into the making of a chiropractor. —  Dr. Lamar]

[Originally written July 1994 — by Keri Lamar]

I’m out with my husband and he puts his hand on my back.  It doesn’t take long before he is traversing  my spine and muscles.   His fingers stop to push the area a little, and he leans over to whisper in my ear:

“A little stiff here, hon?”

This scenario has happened so often that I just have to laugh about it now.  Gone are the days of the simple touch, the caress.  Tom is now neck deep in chiropractic college and I don’t get touched anymore.  I get palpated.  behindscenes3Every touch has an anatomical purpose.  I’m just waiting for the day when he will reach across the dinner table, take my hand, look lovingly into my eyes and say,  “I love the feel of your metacarpal phalangeal joints!”

Assuming, of course, that we have the time to dine together.

Tom is in sixth term at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.  I’m not in the health care business but I may as well be.  I am a fully certified Guinea Pig.   He uses me to practice for quizzes……..just how many times does he need to practice taking my health history, anyway?  I’ve heard he’s taken orthopedic tests on me, but I couldn’t tell you what they were, and I’ve felt those cold instruments enough, thank you.  Why does he need to know the degrees in which my body moves?  The absolute worst is getting my blood pressure taken…….he doesn’t enjoy it either because I’m screaming about how bloody tight he’s got the cuff.  Let’s just say that we skip that part now.  I’ve been adjusted every way possible, but mostly I’ve had non-adjustments.  I don’t know when my husband will get it through his head that my body will just not adjust short-lever.  It’s his challenge; too bad it’s my body.  Of course, I just love it when he begins by saying, “Now, I want to try this new move…..”  His portable table and I have a close relationship.  My legs stick to the vinyl  and my face is crammed into the head rest.  I swear my face is getting molded to a curved point.  I know how to move the head rest and how to get myself comfortable.  Now and then I need to remind Tom that his “other” patients won’t be doing this!  And why do I allow him to do all of this?  Other than the fact that it feels good (sometimes), he’s got another quiz!

I find myself speaking with people that don’t really understand chiropractic.  Usually I try to see what the problem is…experience, misinformation, or rumour.  After assessing where they are coming from, I try to educate them of what I’ve learned through my experience and readings.   New vocabulary words trip from my tongue:  “Have you tried trigger point therapy?”  or “You might have a subluxation, but don’t go to just ANY chiropractor.”  HUH??!!

It’s rather interesting trying to talk with someone who is not of the chiropractic awareness.  My husband is constantly conversing with me about chiropractic care, the reports, the politics.  I could probably eavesdrop on a group of doctors and closely locate the muscle or bone that they were speaking of.  My vocabulary has certainly expanded, and I frequently spellcheck Tom’s reports because otherwise the computer would stop on every third word (“unknown, please check”).  Don’t ask me what half those words mean, however, I never took Latin.

Tom talks about his school a lot.  I know which instructors would frustrate me, humour me, inspire me, and pop my back with a sideways glance.  I know people generally like my husband’s cartoon, “Vert”, and that Bella sells books and Bocho feeds you lunch.  I also know what the anatomy lab smells like because my husband works there (NOT a plum job, in my book).  I know all about the babies who used to come to class on Fridays,  about that great dog that my dog, Rusty, is supposed to aspire to, and those people that could crawl home for lunch and make it back in two minutes.  Then there’s that poor soul that drives for TWO HOURS to get to school.  Dedication with a capital “D”….his wife, I mean.

Home life has definitely changed since my husband joined LACC.    I’ve discovered that dinner alone usually turns into some 5 minute nuke job.  The mail’s interesting….seems like Dynamic Chiropractic  is here every other day along with miscellaneous stuff for doctors, including that lovely letter we get “reminding” us how huge our loans are.  The black chiropractic table is an interesting addition behindscenes2to our master bedroom,  the Snellen eye chart graces our entryway and we have a smattering of bones and spines that decorate our study.  Both pets (the mammals, anyway) have been adjusted, and our friends come over not only for food and drink, but also to get a workup.  All the praise does Tom good, because inevitably he’ll fail at adjusting me short lever again.

I love my husband.  I’m proud of him.  I know he’ll be a great doctor.  I just need to keep reminding him that when we’re out visiting, or eating, or shopping, he can hold my hand without feeling for bones out of place.  I must go now…I have to fake an illness so that my dearest can (you guessed it) study for a quiz.

p.s. October 1995
Tom is now graduating this December and believe it or not, I’m still in one piece!  So, to all the guinea pigs….there is hope!  And yes, he HAS learned to adjust short lever.  Now, about that job…….

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