In order to stay in shape and move my body, one of the things I enjoy doing is cross-fit. Cross-fit involves full-body movements that can be very intense. Last summer, in July of 2014, one of my workouts included bending down, picking up a sandbag, throwing it over my shoulder, and repeating many times. Part way through this workout I suddenly felt my neck strain in a way it hadn’t done before. The feeling didn’t last very long, but it was enough to make me concerned.
That afternoon I developed a tiny blurry spot in my left eye that would come and go. At first I thought it was just a smear on my glasses, so I kept removing them and trying to wipe it off.
The next morning, however, the blurry spot was no longer coming and going. It was there all the time on the outer edge of my left eye. By the next day, the constant blurriness had expanded to the outer one-fourth of my eye. By the end of the week I decided to see an eye doctor, because the blurred area had expanded to cover almost three-fourths of my left eye.
The optometrist said there was some swelling, but wasn’t sure if it was serious or not, so he sent me to see a neuro-ophthalmologist at the University of Minnesota. After asking a lot of questions, running some tests, and looking into my eye with some instruments, the eye doctor assured me that my vision would return. What a relief! He decided to do some more comprehensive tests to rule out anything major, and then have me come see him again in a month.
And he gave me a couple of treatment options. 1) Take some steroids and my vision would clear up in 2-3 weeks. 2) Do nothing and my vision would clear up in 2-3 months.
Since I hadn’t taken any type of medication—over-the-counter or prescription—since 2005, I felt confident that my body could heal on its own, so I chose not to take steroids.
I decided to give my body support with lots of neurological chiropractic adjustments, lots of acupuncture, good rest, and lots of healthy foods. As a result of this health “prescription,” my sight returned on its own…about 10 times quicker than expected! Within the same 2-3 week timeframe in which the ophthalmologist had said the steroids would work—but with time, adjustments, rest, acupuncture, and good food rather than steroids—my vision came back.
To be precise, when I returned to the eye doc for my follow up, the tests showed my field of vision was back to 100%!
There are several lessons from this story I want to share.
The first is that when there is an emergency, go to the medical doctor. Since a permanent vision loss would be a pretty big “emergency,” I had my eyes examined by an opthalmologist.
The second is that these “random” health issues actually aren’t so random: They tend to happen when there is a lot going on in someone’s life. I had recently gotten married—and although married life is great, preparing for a wedding takes a tremendous amount of energy. Further, my practice, Whole Family Chiropractic, was very busy. Thus, my body’s reserves were definitely lower than they should have been.
The third lesson I think this incident illustrates nicely is the difference between a sick-care model and a health-care model of taking care of our bodies.
The entire time I was at the neuro-ophthalmologist’s, his sole focus was trying to figure out a diagnosis. Rather than investigating why my field of vision might have suddenly become impaired, he put all his energy into determining what I could be diagnosed with. After all, in the medical world, if there is no diagnosis, there can be no treatment.
In my mind it made perfect sense that my body was extra-tired and that my heavy cross-fit workout had pushed it past its limit and strained the part of my spine where the nerves impact my eyes (the upper neck). I knew that this stress to my body had to express itself somehow, and in my case, it showed up in my eye.
I wanted to know what I could do to help my body heal and prevent this from happening again. The ophthalmologist, on the other hand, wanted to know what my diagnosis was, so he could prescribe a treatment to make the symptoms go away.
While I was very thankful to leave his office feeling confident that my sight would return (and several thousand dollars in his debt), I realized that other than the assurance I gained that my eye would be OK, I left no better off than when I walked in.
The fourth lesson I learned is how expensive the sick care model is for what you get from it. Going into the sick care model may help make a person feel better, but it rarely helps that person’s body actually regain function, function better, or become healthier.
In fact, for two visits to the University of Minnesota for help from the medical world, the bill for my tests was $8,128! Thankfully my insurance only “allowed” them to charge me $3,200.
I realized that I had spent $3,200 to buy peace of mind—which, again, was in fact very important—but that nothing that was done on my visits had actually made me one bit healthier than when I first walked in their door.
In the next month I spent over $1,000 on acupuncture, and would have spent that much on chiropractic except that fortunately, I received a “professional” discount in that department from the colleague who adjusted me prior to the arrival of Dr. Chelsey Henney in our office—and not only was this far less expensive than the medical tests, but with each visit, because the adjustments enabled my brain and body to communicate fully to heal and repair inside, I actually left healthier than I arrived.
I am thankful that I had been under regular chiropractic care before this incident with my eye occurred; otherwise, my sandbag-throwing workout could have done a lot more damage. It is a reminder, too, that chiropractic adjustments don’t make a person invincible to stress. While neurological adjustments help your body handle whatever type of stress it encounters—physical, emotional, or even chemical—a lot better, your body can still get overwhelmed when you have a lot going on.
I am happy to say that my vision has been fine ever since. And I am reminded to keep my stress under control, my nervous system healthy, and my body’s reserves high so it can maintain its full health!