Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Back to school... always.

I love being a chiropractor!
Except for when I don't.  

I'll admit, sometimes I've gotten bored.  Not by you though... !  Just bored of the same old same old, you know?  Low back pain?  Snore.  Another popped rib?  Zzzzzz.  Seriously, when the highlight of your day is a sprained ankle, something's got to change.  

Enter my mother-in-law.  Now normally I take her advice like any nice daughter-in-law: I listen respectfully, murmur in agreement and then silently disregard it.  This time, though, something stuck.  She had heard from a friend about a great new technique that may interest me, and she was right.  Neurokinetic therapy presents itself as 'the missing link', and it is. I've since taken 2 out of the 3 modules, and they have reinvorgated my practice and my focus.  NKT is smart and slightly nerdy, adaptable and adapting as more knowledge is shared amongst its followers.  

As I understand and practice it, NKT is a system of 'playing' with the body.  It allows me to find a weak muscle, and then find the compensator.  It guides me to search for relationships in the body, and to correct them.  It tells me what is really going on, what needs to be downregulated (released) and upregulated (activated).  It gives me the info, and then I can use my tools (adjustments, muscle release, acupuncture etc) to do the work.  It is simple and really cool at times.  Yesterday I had a patient who could not maintain any balance in her lateral subsystem from left to right.  The slightest amount of pressure on her right shoulder would knock her over.  When she clenched her jaw though, she was stable as a rock.  When we dissected this a little further, it turned out that moving her jaw to the left made her the most stable.  A small muscle in her jaw, called the lateral pterygoid, was overworking for a stabilizing muscle in her back, throwing off not only her hip, but her entire balance.  


And it's changed the way I can look at the old boring things too.  Back pain?  Maybe its connected to that old ankle sprain!  Popped rib? Wonder if there is a diaphragm link?  It's opened up new possibilities and new excitement, and I can't wait to take level 3, where we work on eye muscles and ligaments!  
What are you learning these days?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Still practicing after all these years...

In chiropractic college I was told that when we graduate, we would be, at best, competent chiropractors.  That after five years of practice, we might be good.  That was daunting at the time, but now I find myself 3 times good and a year.  If extended metaphor math isn't your strong suit, I'm closing in on 16 years of practice, and Russell Hill Chiropractic Clinic is officially 15 years old as of today.  We've come a long way, baby.

Before we were Russell Hill Chiropractic & Natural Health, the clinic was called Collis Chiropractic Clinic, run by Dr. Richard Collis.  He took me on as an associate in March of 2002, barely a year out of chiropractic college and still wet behind the ears.  I was in awe; the man could crack a back like no one else.  By summer of that year Dr. Collis gave me the opportunity to own the clinic, and I took it; one of the best decisions I've ever made.  When he told his patients that I would be taking over, I remember one patient cried; I'm happy to say that she gave me a chance and still comes for adjustments to this day.

The practice I took over was made up of me and one massage therapist, Kaaren Brooks.  Kaaren's hands are legendary, and though she moved to Calgary many years ago, her clients still ask about her. The following years were a whirlwind; Zach joined on as a second chiropractor, bringing his attention to detail and penchant for stretches, followed years later by Paul and the devoted patients who followed him.  Lisa brought Chinese medicine and Qi Gong to the clinic, paving the way for Julian today.  We have seen a parade of RMTs come and go: Amanda with her adorable Scottish accent, the always smiling Jessica, Lilian who worked briefly but left to travel to Iceland and we couldn't blame her.  Eva won our hearts and melted our muscles, while  Natalie worked our bodies with her hands of steel.  And of course the RMT team of today: Gary our resident wizard, Jenna's skilled hands and experience, Astra who everybody loves and Anthony who does powerful work with a subtlety that amazes us.  It's been a privilege to be in such good hands for 15 years.

Of course, when I took over the clinic I also inherited my first staff member.  Jody was a force to be reckoned with, and taught me so much about management and the importance of the reception role. When Jody moved on from reception to motherhood, Megan joined the team until the maritimes called her back. Chelsea, Meg, Krystina and Tina took your calls over the years, as did the formidable Lisa, who's skills are wide and varied. Hayley was the tallest to work here and among the loveliest, until she left for Amsterdam and never returned. I'll never forget Louise, who transformed this clinic using her marketing skills and business smarts to help take our work up to the next level. Steph's warmth was much appreciated, and now Sarah is in charge of all things admin, including keeping the very many of us organised and on time.  I literally could not have functioned without these smart and capable women, each bringing their unique skills and personality to this job.  I honestly have learned so much from each of you in the different times of my career; you were administrators, my right hand women, my gatekeepers, my babysitters, and my friends.  I spent more hours with you than my family!  I was always sad to see you leave, but always so happy and proud to watch you move onto your next adventures.

I'm getting verklempt.

There were others who came through this office, healers who stopped by for a year or a few to practice their craft.  Edra introduced me to Naturopatic Medicine well before Bita and Dori (spoiler alert! She's starting here soon!) brought their herbs to the clinic.  Andrea practiced reflexology until moving to the country, and brought in the skilled June to replace her.  Devon's obsession with healthy foods just made us hungrier, while Elisse blended mind and body work with her yoga therapy. Shawn and Janice snuck in on weekends, to teach us about all things baby: how to birth them, how to swaddle them, how to nurse them.  Isabelle joined on to tone our bodies, and today Alysa keeps us zen and flexible as she guides us in downward dog, while Mia pilatifies us daily, and reminds us to engage our lady muscles, though Trista recommends relaxing the same parts.  Jen was the first to practice psychotherapy in this space, until she went on to practice downtown. Amy keeps space in that space now, and keeps us all calm and in touch with our feelings.

... and I'm feeling nervous that I'm forgetting someone.

And of course, there's me.  I never had aspirations of chiropractic greatness, I just wanted to crack a few backs and make people feel better.  Chiropractic helped me, and I wanted to pay it forward.  Over the past 16 years I've been blessed with good luck, good timing and amazing patients.  Running this clinic and being a chiropractor has been joyful and challenging, my work and my passion.

15 years of practice, and I'm finally getting the hang of this.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

No Shame: by Amy Deacon MSW, RSW

On February 22, 2017 - my world was forever changed by the birth of our daughter, Audriana. No university degree, graduate program or certification course has taught me as much as this little girl. While I already have a running list of lessons to be learned, I wanted to share this one, as it so deeply resonated with me.

As a therapist, I would estimate that 80% of my work is focused on working through the shame we have accumulated over the years. And let me tell you, as both a participant and facilitator of this process, learning to accept oneself as inherently worthy can be gruelling work. However, it’s important work, as many of our less than desirable behaviours are symptomatic of our shame, fear and insecurity.

As such, shame has always been a big topic of conversation in my world. And now - enter Audriana. Thanks to my daughter, every day when I get home, I get to witness what life is like without shame. Given, she’s 4-months old. But I don’t care - I want to emphasize this. The girl has no shame, and I love it. She will pee on her uncle, spit up on her Dad, use her mother’s chin and lips as her teething soother, and baby girl does not doubt herself for a second. She does not fear her tears, she does not minimize her laugh. She owns who she is; she owns her present reality without hesitation. Good or bad; she accepts herself just as she is. After all, she is a baby and still in touch with a sacred truth so many of us have lost along our way, she is inherently worthy. ​

All of this lead me to wonder - where, when and why did I lose my sense of self-worth? Like most, the shame that tainted me was not of my choosing. It was due to people and circumstances outside my realm of control. However, it was my choice to believe the shame was true and adopt a position of unworthiness. As a result, I spent a good chunk of my life trying to earn back my worthiness - by trying very hard to be liked, smart, thin, successful, beautiful - and most notably, trying to make it look effortless. ​

When I look at Audrey - I observe curiosity - not judgement. I immediately realize how differently I treat myself, and am so thankful for the teachings of this little girl. I am also encouraged to protect my sense of worth, as fiercely as I hope to protect hers. Therefore, I share with everyone the same gentle reminder I’ve been blessed with - we are all inherently worthy and need to treat ourselves and others as such. You, dear reader, are worthy - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Down with both Flipping and Flopping

Today is National Flip Flop day, according to Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Florida.  And while I'm all for made up holidays to raise money for good causes, I cannot shake the feeling that this is a ploy by the flip flop industry to distract us from the damage being done by their flimsy products.  It's big flip flop pulling the wool over our eyes and the plastic over our toe, and I'm not falling for it.

In these heated times, I believe strongly in freedom for all, specifically all the toes.  Let them feel the wind in nails, let the sun shine down on them.  However, I simply cannot accept the flip flop as a respectable shoe option.  I support a full flip flop ban.  Here's why:

1) They don't provide enough of a barrier between your feet and the world.

Suffice to say, a quarter inch of plastic between your toesies and the street is not enough.  The grime accumulates and it is gross.  I've seen fancy ladies in New York City with a $75 flip flop dangling off of a filthy but manicured big toe and just... noe.

2) They cause your toes to GRIP for dear life.

With no arch support and no strappage securing the flip flop to your foot, your toes have to grip the pathetic excuse for a shoe just to hang on to the illusion that you are in fact wearing shoes.  Toe gripping causes the bottom of your feet, the plantar muscles and fascia, to work overtime, and this in turn can turn off other muscles in the kinetic chain, like your calves and glutes.  If you don't already have plantar fasciitis you just might by fall, and I'll have to say "i told you so".  Nobody wants to hear that, so get a (proper) grip.

3) The are ugly!

Full disclosure, I've been known to sacrafice proper support for a pretty sandal.  Sometimes you gotta rock a stiletto and deal with the consequences.  But flip flops?  Are these even worth the trouble they cause?  You can bejewel them all you want, to me it is just lipstick on a pig.

4) They provide no support!

No arch support at all, no ankle stability, no protection.  Flip flops are just begging you to sprain your ankle, develop plantar fasciitis or stub your toe.  I cannot support a shoe without any support!

So what's a girl to wear?  I'm a fan of a moulded foot bed sandal for every day use.  Birkenstocks are great, though I find them to be too flat for my body, and I suspect other disc herniation sufferers would agree.  Naot has many styles with a bit of a lift, though lately I find their styles too... 'fapitzed' for my liking.  My recent sandal purchase were Mephistos, and I find them to have just enough of a heel lift to save my back, great arch support and fuller coverage on the straps, meaning there is actually something holding the shoe to my foot!

Have fun this summer, but please leave the flip flops for the trek from pool deck to shower!

Monday, February 27, 2017


In high school, I took mostly science classes.  At McGill I majored in physiology - the study of the human body.  I was a good student, but even the sharpest tools in the shed can use some One of the best things that happened during my science studies was realizing that a few Greek and Latin word-bits were the key to understanding scientific terminology. Srsly, most medical words are just 2 or 3 latin bits put together, and once you know a few of these bits, ta da you can read a medical journal, or at the very least question a few jeopardy answers and solve a crossword puzzle (4 letter word for forearm bone = ulna).  Pull these pre- and suf- fixes out, and you sound instantly SMRT.  Or at least smrtr.

One of my favourite medical words, though not my favourite diagnosis, is spondylolisthesis.  Doesn't it just roll off the tongue?  Spon-dillo-list-eesis.  The sound sends shivers down my spine, which is ironic since it refers to a vertebra that has slipped forward.

From a-z, allow me to present my favourite Latin medical bits (said no one ever!).  ABC's for the nerdy baby.

A is for -algia.  Give it a location, and you've got pain!  Metatarsalgia hurts all the way down in your toes, fibromyalgia hurts everywhere, and of course, "not tonight honey, I've got a cephalgia" hurts your partner.

B is for brady-, meaning slow.  Bradycardia is a slow heart beat, the opposite of tachycardia.  For some reason I memorized this as the Brady Bunch is slow, as in from the past, though admittedly they were also 'tacky' so it's a miracle I passed cardiology 101.

C is for chondro, referring to cartilage tissue. As in chondromalacia patella! Meaning 'bad cartilage in the kneecap'.  Lots of you have this.

D is for dendrite, comes from a Greek root word meaning tree.  See what I did there? Root? Tree?  Dendrites are nerve cell extensions that allow for nerve conduction.  We'd be nothing without them.

E is for -esthesia, or nervous sensation.  Pair it with para- and you've got altered nerve sensation.  Ana- and you can't feel nothin'.  Put an A before it if you want to be fancy or British - aesthesia.

F is for fascia, and it holds everything together.  Without it you're just a bag of bones.

G is for -genic, and it gives me cervicogenic dorsalgia.  It tells us where things come from, as in the aforementioned back pain that comes from your neck.

H stands for hyper, which means too much, and also describes my kid after he gets hyperglycaemic.

I is for idio-, best pared with pathic.  Idiopathic means your doctor is an idiot and he doesn't know why you are sick.

J gives us juxta meaning near, positioned well to make juxtaposition.  Which I actually learned in the one English course I had to take. Go figure.

K stands for kinesio- a word that moves me.

L is for lipo, and we do more than just -suction it.  If I point out a blobby cyst on your back (very common), it sounds better to call it a lipoma, than what it really is: a fatty growth.  No offence.

M is for so much! Macro and mega and myo- and mal- and mania... Which I clearly have.

N is for -noia, of the mind and will. This seems beautiful to me, though I can only think to pair it with para (outside of normal). Where are the other noias?

O is for olecranon, a much better word for elbow, dontcha think?

P gives us para - see noia above for the abnormal use, can also mean beside. I regularly deal with paraspinal muscles, which may or may not be abnormal.

Q is for quint as in Mia Quint (Rapoport) our Pilates guru. Mia also happens to be the youngest of a quad of girls, which makes me think her mother should have tried for one more or changed their family name.

R is for retro, meaning backward or behind. And you thought you didn't know latin!

S gives us scapula, a fancier way of saying shoulder blade. Or you could say fleigel, which is Yiddish for a 'wing' and what one patient refers to hers as.

T is for teno, pertaining to the tendons. Tenosynovitis is a great one in theory though not in actuality. 

U stands for -ule, which is little and small and cute! Like a macula, a small discoloured area of skin! Adorable.

V is for a lot of words that may make you blush (venero-, vesiculo-, vulvo-) but vago refers to your vagus nerve, so get your mind out of the gutter.

W gives us direction: -ward, -where, -wise and with-.

X is for xiphi, though I don't often have to describe anything as 'sword like', but I wish I did!

Y is for -ysteria, pertaining to the uterus. Very important in the diagnoses of yesteryear, like hysteria (ungovernable emotional excess!).

Finally, Z is for Zygo- a union or junction. A great part of your face is the zygomatic arch - giving us a stunning cheek bone and also it's fun to say!

What are your favourite words?