A different doctor, a different result
Hi. I’m Sharon, and I’m not new to chiropractic care. Instead, I would call myself a reluctant enthusiast. Or maybe I’m a recovering cynic. I am, however, a convert to Dr. Wendy Shimer’s integrative philosophy. She’s an out-of-the-box thinker with a healing touch. I am a fan. As such, I’m exploring the specifics of her practice, her professional (and maybe a bit of her personal) history, and, most importantly, what’s interesting about Dr. Shimer’s unique technique.
The truth is, this blog is NOT for homework enthusiasts. It’s not for those of you who need just one more nugget of information about chiropractic terms. It’s not for those of you who research the best chiropractic lingo as a happy hobby. I can point you to those technical blogs over the next few months, though. (Here; try this and this when you need a hit of technically professional perfectionism.) So don’t worry; you can go literally anywhere on the web for that stuff. In fact, Dr. Shimer has a ton of those articles floating around in her archives already. And They. Are. Thorough. I highly recommend them.
This blog is more of a…practical take, in layman’s terms, to break down some of the myths, legends, fears, and truth about chiropractic care. I’ll be writing to someone whose eyes may glaze over when chiropractic terms float over the screen. I’ll be writing to the scoffing soul who has a chronically stiff, achy back and lives with it; they may still be open to trying one more thing. I’ll be addressing the Ya-But’s and the eye-rolling individuals who guffaw at alternative medicine; they are still too busy to put their health and well-being first, ya see.
After all, I was a Ya-But and an eye-roller. Even now, I can barely make time for preventive care. You may be the same way; busy with work-life balance which, by the way, I have yet to find. There is no balance, so far. Just more of a juggling act on a teeter-totter, with a protein bar thrown in for good measure.
Just like you, I’m too busy to:
take the initiative and prioritize chiropractic topics,
research and download an integrative medical journal, and
hire an interpreter to dumb the information down.
But interviewing, learning about, and writing this monthly blog is my shortcut. “Bring it down into regular terms, Dr. Shimer!” has become my battle cry. I’ll share the results I find in the chiropractic world, in simple terms and ideas. Readers, you’re welcome.
When I first met Dr. Shimer, I’ll admit I was already in one of those walk-in, back-cracking places that I vowed I’d never use. My clumsiness led to chronic back pain. I’d fallen on the wet pool pavement a year before, and my upper butt/lower back was killing me; it was time to risk another visit to a chiropractor. I didn’t care which; none of them worked well enough, or long enough, for me to be wowed anyway, so I did it when I couldn’t stand the pain anymore.
My family doctor recommended I see a physical therapist, but I didn’t have time to schedule one that particular week. So when I saw a franchise sign as I turned left into a strip mall, I did what it said: “Walk-in’s Welcome. No appointment needed.” I walked in.
That first time, I got adjusted by a zenfully-minded twenty-three-year-old with a beard to rival ZZ-top. We made small talk about his next trip to his Peruvian peace retreat while he glanced at my paperwork. “Straightforward enough,” he said and got me onto the table.
Facedown, I heard him taking deep, cleansing breaths while Gregorian chant played in the background. He didn’t believe in actually popping my back, he breathed, but instead, gently pressing on my back and lightly manipulating the joints into their peaceful, happy home. It felt a whole lot like I was doing a beginners yoga class, with someone else stretching for me.
When the adjustment was over, I thanked him, feeling just a little confused. Maybe it would do more, later, I thought, still rubbing my back. But, no harm, no foul. I didn’t feel worse, at least. The next month, I was early to another appointment and had time for a soothing chant. I remembered that his treatment was slightly more effective than a light massage would be, but a little less expensive, so I went again.
“Dr. Blah-Blah is on vacation,” the perky assistant burbled. “He has a substitute. Do you mind if she works on you?”
I shrugged. “Sure,” I said and walked around the partition to meet her. In spite of Dr. Shimer’s quick smile and strong handshake, I admit I didn’t have a lot of faith in her abilities. And yet, when she looked me right in the eye, her authenticity took me by surprise. My cynicism zeroed in on her large stature and the sweat from her forehead as she cracked her knuckles, stretching her back. Newbie, I thought quickly.
Assumptions do me no good
Then she handed me her own forms to fill out. Her assessment sheets were in-depth, but not needlessly so. I filled them in while she asked some clarifying questions. She didn’t just look over my paperwork. She studied it, making notes and explaining what she’d be doing through each step of the adjustment. I liked her a bit more, after that.
Dr. Shimer looked nothing like the cookie-cutter hair and makeup clones of perky health advocates I’d seen lately. No sleekly casual business suit or skirt set. Of course, those ever-so-put-together professionals couldn’t handle my curvy, minimally exercised, living-life-after-five-kids-stature, either. Maybe this woman could handle all of me, after all. Or, this intimidating-looking woman could give me a kink in my neck and a reason to avoid back-crackers for another ten years.
I laid down on the table and prepared to get through the ordeal, teeth clenched. But she reassured me, waiting until she knew I was ready. Then, she found each marble, knife, and pin I thought was surely lodged in my upper/lower quadrant. The pops and cracks came only after she moved her hands to find just the right spot. The pain I’d been feeling for a year melted away under her confidant work.
I prepared to leave, moving and turning in ways I’d forgotten existed, but she wasn’t done. She worked on my knees, my shoulders, my wrists, and ankles. I grew an inch. She settled and realigned and unwound my twisty, wound-up, wreck of a working skeleton. She used instruments on me that I thought belonged in my high school woodshop classroom. And I didn’t hurt from her adjustment, at all.
There was no waiting for weeks for relief. And (don’t roll your eyes at me) it wasn’t the kind of relief that lasts a few hours, either. It. Felt. Different. I felt different. Her touch, her thorough and methodical process found and relieved pain that clearly wasn’t a cookie-cutter technique.
Wendy had looked through my assessment, found each place I complained about, and then found the source of the pain before correcting it. Then she kept right on going, sure-footed and right, every time.
She didn’t tempt me to come back again in a day or two to keep the pain away. In fact, when I asked to see her again, she said she wouldn’t be there; just substituting, and this was her last day. Nope. Uh-uhh. My newfound relief was NOT going down that way.
From Know-It-All to Beggar
“Look,” I said, “I don’t think you understand how rare it is to find someone who actually has the chops to back up their profession. I HAVE to stay in touch with you. I don’t even believe in this crap, and now I have to rethink everything I know about these quacks because you’re the real deal! Where can I find you?”
I admit, calling her colleagues quacks was not professional of me. She was professional, just unconventional. Dr. Shimer had the grace to let me know that she wasn’t in the business of taking a colleague’s clients. But I begged her to take my card, anyway. I Could. Not. Let her. Get. Away.
Shamelessly, I asked her to promise to call me if she ever opened her own office. PLEASE-PLEASE-PLEASE-style.
She didn’t. That’s not her style. I got that she wouldn’t reach out to me, but I spent the next six hoping. What else did I have to do? I didn’t need to rub my back or my butt anymore to get relief. “Look at this!” I’d say to my husband as I spun around on the kitchen floor. (Two-step style, not break-dancing style. It was only one adjustment, remember?) He’d let me know I was walking differently and he’d always say, “When you find her, make sure I can go see her, too.” He had a twenty-year back issue and wanted to put her to the test. I spent months wondering where my Wendy had gone.
We both wondered where could she possibly be. I knew I’d go pretty far out of my way to find her. Over the last two months, my pragmatic cynicism popped back up. My back started to hurt again, and I started to doubt Dr. Shimer’s work. How dare she fix me up once, and it didn’t stick for the rest of my life! My doubts popped up to war with my interest in her whereabouts, and pretty soon I’d convinced myself that she wasn’t all that great. I’d almost decided to go to a physical therapist. Until I stumbled across her announcement; Shimer Chiropractic was open in Longmont!
I called and made an appointment for the very next Wednesday.
[…Next blog, my eye-rolls and bad experiences get an attitude check when Dr. Shimer sees me again…]
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