Monday, June 28, 2010

Bad Medicinery

It used to be a simple question, an ice breaker: "what do you do?".  Correct answers included doctor, spy, fireman.  Or maybe you're the guy who puts the ends on shoelaces, or replaces the lightbulbs in street lamps.  I know from personal experience that lightbulbs don't just change themselves, so it follows that someone's gotta do it!  Nowadays, when I ask that simple question, I'm left flummoxed.  You're a systems analyst?  You conduct market share valuations in the bonds and the whatnow?  You say you're a plumber?  I don't get it.

Ask me what I do - go ahead, ask.

Why I'm a chiropractor!  I treat musculoskeletal problems, most often by adjusting the spinal vertebra, though any old joint will do.  See?  Simple.

It's when other people try to explain what I do, that things get a little murky.  For starters, ya'll want to call me a back doctor.  Which I guess is ok, I've certainly been called worse, but why limit me?  I treat backs, necks, hips, a whole lotta shoulders... I've been known to help headaches and feet and wrists too!  I might argue that I treat 'people', not just backs and aches and such, but I worry about seeming sentimental.

There is also the issue of consistency among chiropractors, namely our lack of.  We are a wacky bunch... all doing different things with different instruments and different terminologies, and each calling it 'chiropractic'.  This subject deserves a post of its own, but suffice to say that our lack of clarity with respect to our scope is confusing at best, and undermines our expertise at worst.

But you... the regular people, the non-chiros as you are sometimes called, you ruin our good name.  How can you be expected to understand the intricacies of what we do, when you can't even figure out what to call us?  I meet you at parties, and you ask me how long I've practiced chiropractory.  In line at the grocery store, you tell me that you've had this back pain for a few months, and you've been thinking about chiropractory.  At my weekly kickboxing class at the gym you tell me how chiropactory changed your life.  Fine, I'm exaggerating on the last one - I haven't been to the gym in 2 years.  But still.

People, it's not a word.  Chiropractory.  Not a word!  Irregardless of how sure you are, fact remains: not a word.  It's a ginormous problem, this invented word.  Wanna know another?  Preventative.  Patients often express an interest in preventative maintenance.  And it's a real problem for me!  Because here is someone who values their health, who has come to recognize that it is easier to keep you well than to get you well.  They are embracing wellness and everywhere chiropractic hearts are warming... but me?  I'm stuck on preventative.  PrevenTAtive?  It just sounds wrongly.  Do I then practice alternitative medicine?  And yet, 'preventive maintenance' doesn't have the same zing.  And don't we all want a little zing from our chiropractor?

Also, it's single.  Chiropractic.  No 'S'.  ChiropracticS sounds to me like fireworks, I'm not sure why.  And lest you doubt my expertise on such chiropractish vernacular, let me assure you that I've been chiropracting for almost ten years now.  I'm a chiropractician!

Feeling foolish for calling your chiropractor something unintentional?  Not to worry, no harm done, he's probably just honoured to have been called in the first place.  There are bigger problems in the world than this, right?  Like how to pronounce chiropody.