Have you ever thought about how one event can change your life? Well, I want to share my story about how one event changed mine! Actually, it was two events. Having been born into a family in the 1950’s, growing up with two older brothers, life could get pretty physical. When I was a kid, expression came in the form of raw emotion- if I was happy I laughed out loud, if I wanted to run, I ran as fast as I could, I was never afraid to unapologetically be myself or voice my opinion. My brothers and I faced no barriers when it came to playing wildly, whether that be us wrestling, running, jumping, you name it! Except when my father intervened with the occasional slap and “CALM DOWN YOU IDIOTS, BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT!” Being so rambunctious combined with a beautiful snowy day in Queens, my brothers and I ventured out into the winter wonderland to go sledding down the block at Kissena Park. There was one hill that had two paths, one to the left and one to the right, in the middle was a huge oak tree. While everyone was taking their turns going down each path, I waited with overwhelming excitement to have the same fun navigating down the hill, steering the sled all by myself. Having only been 7 years old, my oldest brother looked at me and said, with the authority only an older brother could have, “you can either go left or right, but watch out for the tree in the middle!” Like a guided missile the only thought I had in my mind was “tree in the middle, tree in the middle”. Having been so intensely focused on the tree, that’s exactly where my sled wound up. Next thing I know, I crashed head first into the massive oak tree. The impact knocked me out, my boots flew off, and I woke up with my brother over me saying “I TOLD YOU NOT TO HIT THE TREE!” Not thinking anything about it, I continued sleigh riding, but something in me changed. It wasn’t soon after the incident that I developed some unusual health issues. One in particular was that my left eye seemed lazy, not being able to open up as fully as my right. I also started getting horrendous nosebleeds about 6 to 8 times a year for reasons unknown. A year after the nosebleeds, I started developing cysts, boils and weird skin infections that puzzled my mom, and every doctor she brought me to. It had gotten so bad that the doctors would lance, cauterize and would put me on multiple rounds of antibiotics- it was a drag and I hated it. Not knowing anything about how the body works, I mean I was only a child, I lived with them, and coped as best I could. It was embarrassing to have these huge cysts and boils on my face and body as a 12 year old multiple times a year, it was unsightly to say the least. I think what was the hardest thing that occurred after this incident was that it changed the way I expressed myself- my overall tone had changed. I became more fearful, uptight, and felt like all of the inner freedom I had before the incident was replaced with new barriers that just didn’t exist before. I became more sensitive and lost myself to playing music.
Fast forward 10 years later, now being 17 I found myself working out in the martial arts, working on cars and motorcycles becoming more interested in mechanical functions and processes. I began working out more than 3 times a week, forming closeness with the other students in my class, but becoming even closer with my karate instructor, who also happened to be a NYC fireman. One day my instructor suffered from soreness and discomfort from an injury he sustained from saving someone from a burning building. One after class he asked me to come along with him to his doctor’s appointment. I hopped in the car and when we arrived at the doctor’s office, Dr. Rocca in Flushing Queens, I was taken a back because we were walking into a chiropractor’s office, when I was under the impression that it we were going to a medical doctor’s office. I don’t know why I was taken aback, having a preconceived notion that chiropractic was bullshit, seeing as I never had any personal experience with chiropractic. I think it was probably because one of my good friend’s dad was an orthopedist and I must have overheard him talking about chiropractors being quacks. Much to my surprise the chiropractor, unlike any other doctor I had experienced, was very eager to share his knowledge. He greeted me personally upon entering his office, as well as taking the time to explain what he was doing to treat my karate instructor and why. It was on this day that my karate instructor suggested that he check my spine, at which time in, my mind, I was denying that there was nothing wrong with me. At this point Dr. Rocca took out a model spine that had within in it a spinal cord and nerve roots and demonstrated how a spine with physical injury or emotional stress can alter its’ alignment thus causing a reduction in communication between brain and body and body and brain. That breakdown, he said, interferes with the perfection of signals to all systems: neuromuscular, immune or nerve function and perception. Again, not realizing the significance of this in my own health, my karate instructor said to the chiropractor “check him, check him!” And I said to myself “what?!” Before I could say anything, the doctor was so caring, he said “let me see if your spine has any binds” and proceeded to feel my spine through motion to see if there was any segment in any direction that had restriction or total loss of motion. Specifically in the upper cervical region (the neck). And let me just say this, I had absolutely no pain in my neck, I did not feel any limitation or restriction of motion, but when he examined my spine through motion with his fingers, there was a sensitivity on one side and I could definitely feel a limitation and restriction of motion at the base my skull. Then the doctor looked me square in the eyes and said “Listen you have a misaligned vertebrae at the top of your spine that I can feel and I know you can feel it since I examined it. It needs to be corrected in its position and more importantly remove the pressure from your nerves and their expression.” At which point my karate instructor said “Adjust him! Adjust him!” Before I knew what was happening, while I was sitting in the chair, Dr. Rocca applied a very gentle but specific force into the top of my spine, at which point I felt and heard a, in my opinion, a monumental release (which by the way did not hurt!). Which left me in awe, but mostly in a state of ease, like someone took a rock off the top of my head. At this point I said to myself “Holy crap!” When the doctor looked at me again he said “Son, you need to come back, so we can make some changes in your spine.” So I did. After a few months of care, I noticed a significant change and how I felt and how my health improved. I no longer had the infections that were bothersome and uncomfortable. Suddenly, my eye opened up to its normal size. What was most awesome was that I no longer had to take the constant rounds of antibiotics anymore, which I hated so much. Which made me very happy. About the second month that I realized the improvements I suddenly felt more myself and less inhibited. So, I asked the chiropractor “How does this work? How does getting adjusted bring such big changes to my health? Why don’t I get these stupid symptoms anymore?” He said to me “Every person is created with their own healing energy that actually comes from the base of your brain, the top of your spine. That healing energy or power can be diminished if your spine is off center. The adjustments remove the interference and allow the full power to be expressed.” So I thought to myself “Wow, if I could be helped by chiropractic, I wonder how many people that are suffering from health conditions, that they don’t want, have been unsuccessful with medications, treatments or procedures that they can’t afford…” At that moment I realized that crashing into that tree wasn’t a bad thing because in the 10 years that I lived in discomfort, disconnected from the power that heals, that it would ultimately connect me to something bigger than myself, chiropractic. After all my wacky symptoms went away I was in awe of the body’s natural, inherent healing power and how infinite it was! It was through my own personal experience of crashing into that tree, becoming involved in martial arts and then discovering chiropractic, that I have been able to dedicate myself to healing thousands through the art, science and philosophy of chiropractic. There are many events that occur throughout ones’ life that may seem to be negative or insignificant that actually turn out to be life defining and ultimately part of a bigger plan that we are yet to realize.