I started as a patient during my last pregnancy to relieve problems I was having with sciatica and insomnia. As those issues were resolved, I continued treatment and found myself not getting sick as often and recovering at a much faster rate from common colds and viruses. My sons, ages 2.5 years and 6 months receive regular adjustments as well and I have seen them thrive physically and emotionally. I am so glad I decided to make this investment in my family's wellness.
The Creating Wellness Program and regular chiropractic care have made such a difference for me. I'm at a healthier weight, my diet is better, and I have less trouble with allergies and my musculoskeletal issues from work.
I went to R.M.H. for severe ear and neck pain and was told by the physician that I had an ear infection. After several days of taking medicine, I was told to go see an ear, nose, throat (E.N.T.) specialist. They advised me to go see another specialist, where he found no problems with my nervous system. So, I went back to the E.N.T. specialist and he diagnosed me with having Meniere's Disease. They wanted me to see a Spin Doctor in Charlottesville for a "Balance Test". They found no problems. Through all of my visits I became more sick and unable to function or work. My wife had to come to my place of employment and pick me up from where I was sitting or laying down, and take me home. Sometimes I would pass out due to the dizziness and severe pain. I also was starting to have loss of hearing in my left ear. Sometimes she would have to take me to the Rockingham Memorial Hospital, where they would have to give me I.V.'s to get things settled down.
The symptoms continued for about 1 year, and after many more test, MRI's, CT Scans and types of medicines I was having no relief. I was continuing to miss more days from work. Due to my illness, I started to fear that I may lose my job, my home, be unable to support my family and pay the bills. I had to seek further help. I went and saw one more specialist, where he told me that I had Severe Meniere's Disease and there was NO Cure. I was told we could only work on the symptoms to make life livable and make it possible to work with having the Meniere's Disease. The doctor suggested using a device called a "Menette Machine" to help ease my attacks. After using this machine for 6 weeks, 3 times a day, I got relief. After my 6 week trial period was over, he recommended surgery. They performed surgery on my left ear called "Endolymphamtic Sac Decompression". The symptoms went away for about 7 1/2 months. Then the symptoms started back up and I was having one to two attacks weekly. They were stronger then previous ones and they had to increase my medicine intake. At this time I was at the end of my rope-nowhere to turn. Not knowing what everyday would have in store for me.
I went for my 8 month follow-up visit, where he said the next step is more sugery. They would go in the left ear, cut the balance nerve and kill it. If this procedure was done, my balance would be off and I would lose almost all of my hearing in that ear. I told him no way. Again, I found myself with nowhere to turn.
I took my son to the Children's First Day at Eastern Mennonite University, where I came across a display where they were doing free cervical scans of the nervous system. I asked the lady if it was only for the kids, she informed me that it was for both, children and adults. So I gave it a try. She was the office manager for Atwell Family Chiropractic. I had a seat while she showed me the results of my scan and told me that I have a left ear problem, that she could see that in the scan. She brought tears to my eyes. She told me that my vertebrae were out of place and they were putting pressure on the nerves which was causing most of my problems. She suggested that I schedule an appointment to see Dr.Atwell as soon as possible. The first question I can remember that I asked Dr.Atwell was "Is there hope for me?". He told me that there is always hope. Soon after a few more scans he verified that I have a pinched nerve in my C1 vertebrae and that I need to start treatment as soon as possible. My wife and I decided to try it for a couple of weeks and if it didn't work we would thank Dr.Atwell for trying but we would discontinue the treatments. From my first treatment to present I have had ZERO attacks. NO SYMPTOMS, NO ATTACKS AT ALL AND STILL GOING STRONG.
After my first visit I was "Oh no, just another doctor's opinion of my disease." I know that there is no cure for the disease, just something to try to relieve the symptoms. The office was very nice looking; the staff spoke to me on my level, not above my head. Everything was just different. It didn't feel like I was at a doctor's office. When Dr.Atwell did my scan and we had the initial consult, he said "I want to know the symptoms so we can work on the cause." DO WHAT? I asked him. He said "I want to know the symptoms so we can work on the cause of the disease." Please note all the other doctors said there is no cure for the disease, we can only work on the symptoms. What a change! From 2 attacks weekly to 0 attacks in 3 weeks of treatment.
Since my first treatment to present, I have had no attacks. I am able to work 40 hours a week. My life has taken a 360 degree turn around. I am able to play with my son, be a husband to my wift, go out with my family for meals, enjoy social time, go to the park, go fishing with my family, ect. I GOT MY LIFE BACK...
Mary Chris M.:
When 7 is NOT a Lucky Number
7 years. That's how long I spent going from doctor to doctor and from one person to another in an attempt to find out why I was having reocurring abdominal pain. Severe, relentless gripping abdominal pain which would render me completely incapacitated and would have me curled up on the floor in the fetal position with no avenue for relief. When an attack came on, the pain would buil and build until it became literally unbearable, and I would begin vomiting and then dry heaving as my body attempted to create some kind of release.
The first time this happened, I knew instinctively something was physically wrong and it was not some "bug" or virus. Convinced there was a distinct cause for the pain and that I need medical assistance, I went to the emergency room where they administere IV fluids, drew blood and ruled out appendicitis. Having nothing abnormal to report from the tests, I was discharged with a diagnosis of a possible gastrointestinal virus.
A month or so later, after a 2nd attack and another ER visit and no answers via their tests, I began my multiple-year search for an answer. All the while, I continued to experience the attacks on an irregular basis (sometimes once a month, sometimes once every 2 or 3 months). I was given pain medication and anti-nausea medication to take when an attack occurred, but neither helped, so I started keeping a log to track my food intake, my menstrual cycles and anything that might have been going on emotionally or mentally that I could point to as causative factors. Doing so offered no insights - there seemed to be no identifiable trigger to what would cause an attack, and despite more and more testing and procedures, there seemed to be no identifiable organic (physical) reason for the attacks. The following is my "grocery list" of tests/procedures over my 7 year ordeal:
- ultrasound to test for gall stones (negative)
- special diagnostic test to test for gall bladder function (negative)
- small bowel follow through to check for obstructions/irregularities
- mention of the possible vague/catch-all diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but admittedly (to the doc) this was not a good fit since I did not have diarrhea or constipation or triggers from diet, etc.
- ultrasound of ovaries - some cysts were found, and though cysts can be perfectly normal, medication was prescribed with the thought that the cysts could be periodically rupturing and causing my pain
- repeat unltrasounds to monitor cysts - which appeared to remain unchanged (or worse) with the medication, so exploratory pelvic surgery was offered - a D&C (dialation and cutterage) to rule out endometriosis
- D&C surgery was performed with a diagnosis of possible mild endometriosis (some suspect areas were cauterized)
- after repeat attacks, I sought out a GYN specialist at Johns Hopkins for a 2nd consult and she questioned the findings from the previous surgery. Pregnancy was recommended as it almost always provides relief (if endometriosis was the culprit), but it was no cure - if endometriosis was the problem, it would return with no real "cure" available (multiple pregnancies could always be considered)
- Not ready to use pregnancy as means to treat my symptoms, and after continued attacks, I sought out a gastro-intestinal specialist at UVA who was sympathetic to my frustration and vowed to leave 'no stone unturned' and to systematically test for and rule out possible causes for my attacks. The "subgrocery list" of tests/procedures (over a period of about 2 years) from this doctor was as follows:
- abdominal ultrasound
- small bowel with large bowel follow through (live x-ray of a radioactive drink moving through my GI tract)
- liver blood tests
- CT scan
- a lab test for porphyria (requiring blood and urine samples being collected during an active attack and then packed in
dry ice and overnighted to a lab in Texas!)
- tests for Crohn's Disease, celiac disease
Summary of the 7-year Saga
All tests via this very thorough and compassionate doctor came back normal/negative. His final consult with me was to say that the good news was they could fairly confidently rule out tumors or cancer and that there were a few other things to consider. One was exploratory surgery to check a valve somewhere along the GI tract/digestive organ (can't remember which) which could be defective, another was his mention of something called "abdominal migraines" which, as the name suggests, are migraines of the abdomen vs. those more commonly experienced in the head and for which potent migraine medicine could be prescribed to treat the symptoms. This doctor then moved to North Carolina and my case was handed over to one of his colleagues. After another attack, I scheduled my 1st visit with her. She reviewed my case, asked me the same questions that I'd been answering for 7 years, and offered to repeat some tests to see if anything had changed. Otherwise, she all but said they could do and it might just be something I'd have to "live with."
Now tell me, if I had been that doctor's daughter, do you think that answer would been good enough? Would she simply have said "sorry, daughter - we've done everything we can - now go outside and play." I don't think so...
Completely frustrated and beginning to think the doctors were beginning to think it must all be in my head. I actually paid for an online service that consisted of answering a 50 page personal health history questionnaire with the promise of a collaborated review and response by a team of health professionals from a variety of disciplines. The end result was not a "diagnosis" but rather a narrative of possible causes for my list of symptoms each with an explanation of how they came to their conclusions as well as suggestions for pursuing professional help (ranging from traditional medical doctors, to homeopathic suggestions, to nutrition/supplements to chiropractic adjustments). This was the very first time the word chiropractic had ever come up in regards to possible treatment (despite my 7 YEARS of going to doctors). I had a friend who had recently gone to chiropractor for her neck problems and immediately called her. She gave me Dr.Atwell's phone number and I attended a new patient orientation that same week. I remember sitting across from Dr.Atwells with my scan between us and him saying "Wow - care to tell me what's going on?" Being the seasoned skeptic/cynic that I'd become over the years, I said, "Actually, I wanted you to tell me what the scan tells you, before I reveal why I'm here today." He referred to the areas of black and blue (severe and moderate impingement of my spine) and said I was likely experiencing issues related to my abdominal area though he also suspected I'd had a whiplash incident of some sort or another (per my cervical x-rays). I had been in a car accident (suffered mild whiplash) 15 years prior, and about 2-3 years ago, I'd been thrown from a horse and was temporarily knocked out when my head hit the ground. I explained however that I had never had any neck or back pain/complaints and that I had sought him out due to severe abdominal attacks for which there appeared to be no identifiable cause.
Thus began my journey into the world of chiropractic and learning about the consequences and effects of a misaligned spine and how impringements anywhere along the spinal column can have effect on everything - from your body's immune response to organ function/dysfunction. All of this made sense to me, and I started reading anything and everything regarding chiropractic and I was amazed and encouraged by the testimonials of Dr.Atwell's other patients. After starting under Dr.Atwell's care in December of 2005, my attacks did not stop immediately, but they became less severe and less frequent. Dr.Atwell encouraged me to be patient, that my spine had been misaligned for years and it would take repeat and continuous adjustments to not only realign my spine, but to give my muscles the time to re-train themselves to hold my spine in correct alignment. After about 4-5 months, I completely stopped having attacks and I have been asymptotic for 2 years now.
I continued to recieve adjustments during my subsequent pregnancy in 2006 and never suffered from back pain or sciatica as so many pregnant women seem to experience. Unfortunately, due to a suspected insufficient cervix, I had an emergency C-section at UVA when I went into labor 9 weeks early and our newborn son, Jack, had to remain in the NICU for the 1st five weeks of his life. At six weeks old, after Jack had come home and we'd settled into a routine, I took him to Dr.Atwell for his first adjustment. Jack is now almost 17 months old, and I am proud to claim that despite the tendency for "preemie" babies to be more susceptible to viruses/infections or allergies due to an immature immune system, Jack has never had a fever or an ear infection or any other health concerns other than the occasional stuffy/runny nose and cough (which have been few and far between and short lived) - despite being at a sitter's with 5 other children. Such a healthly start in life is fairly unusual for any "term" baby, much less a preemie!
The only thing that was predictable about my 7 year long battle with severe abdominal attacks is that they were UNpredictable. And in those 7 years, I learned that my only recourse was to "ride out" an attack (6 hours was the usual duration) and not bother going to the ER or seeking out anymore doctors because there was nothing they could do. I am so grateful for getting connected with Dr.Atwell and his wonderful staff, not only because the cause of my attacks has been identified and successfully treated, but also because I have been able to give the gift of a properly aligned spine to my son early in life so that he will hopefully never have to experience chronic pain or serious illness.