Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chronically acute

Timing is everything, they say.

But I take issue with this - everything?  Surely some things must transcend time, no?  How can everything - EVERYTHING - simply boil down to timing??  Does this not make us all just a bunch of coincidences?  Starting with good timing between an egg and a sperm (or a good time between the parties, as it were...) - continuing on with being at the right or wrong place at the right or wrong time, and ending in our eventual timely or not so- demise?

Surely we are more than a bunch of stuff that happens, one after the other. Surely!  I'll posit that timing is something.  Matters of luck depend on time.  Hearts have been broken and mended by the whim of the clock, and more than a few empires and souffles have fallen.
Of course chiropractors are interested in time, too.  We claim that an injury is acute in the first 48 hours, and considered to sub-acute for a few weeks, after which point it is considered chronic.

Chronic?  This word brings to mind long-standing, unremitting injuries.  Years long issues.  It implies a pain that won't easily, if ever, go away.  It makes me think of bleary-eyed teenagers at the mall.  But an injury that just hasn't gone away after a month or two?  nah.

The problem with prematurely declaring something to be chronic is that it sets up unrealistic expectations for recovery.  It suggests that a regular injury would be better by now!  It implies that this pain should be gone, and that by still hurting, there is something wrong, something worse.

But here's the thing.  We all heal at different rates. We carry pain differently.  We have weak spots that are the first to yield in times of stress.  Rushing to label something chronic almost seems like defeat - like admitting aloud that this injury might be bigger than you.

Of course, some injuries are chronic. Some problems must be managed, not cured, and accepting that can be an important part of healing.

The Greeks refer to time as both Chronos, chronological time, and Kairos, meaning "the right moment".  Perhaps the Time that heals all wounds is both chronos and kairos - measured as both time and timeliness. Maybe it matters less where your injury lies on the acute-chronic spectrum, and more that you are improving and healing as best as you can. As a chiropractor, I think that is the best help I can offer my patients.

I think I'll change my business cards:
            Dr Michelle Fagen, Kairopractor.