Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mass Shootings: What Is The Real Cause?

In the wake of tragedy comes opportunity.  The gunman who killed ten people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon was the latest in the seemingly endless run of mass shootings.  Each one of these alarmingly common occurrences provides another chance to logically evaluate the reasoning behind them, an absolutely vital step in determining the appropriate actions to take after twenty years of watching the problem worsen. 

One of the most popular reactions in America to mass killings is to demand greater gun control.  Any topic that becomes political in the modern climate evokes polar viewpoints hyperbolized by the media.  If we are to seriously assess the mass shooting problem, though, the political undertones need to be stripped away. 

Studying the issue on a more humanistic level, this is a people problem.  At the heart of this debate is that people are deciding that it’s OK to kill other people in schools and other heavily attended public places.  The theme behind the firearm regulation argument is certainly worth exploring; it absolutely makes sense to find a way to keep guns away from people willing to commit heinous acts of violence.  However, this is not a simple matter of the presence or absence of guns.  Given that people are far more complex than the weapons they use, it is imperative that we acknowledge that this is a multi-faceted problem. 

Societally, we have developed a bad habit of black and white thinking, which limits our collective ability to develop a well-rounded understanding of various issues.  Take mental illness, for example.  63% in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll said that they think mass shootings are more likely due to the difficulty in identifying and treating people with mental health problems.  Reasonably, one could assume that no sane individual would enter a public forum with the intent to harm and that if a previously unstable individual could regain his/her soundness of mind, tragedy could be potentially avoided.  It is in pulling that narrative thread that we then engage the most complicated question of the subject matter: what is mental health?

The Mayo Clinic staff begins an article on their website designed to answer the above question with the statement, “Understanding what's considered normal mental health can be tricky.”  Search the term “mental illness” and you may notice the trend to describe it as a disease in a rather arbitrary effort to separate the sick from the well.  Hence, we are generally categorized as either mentally stable or mentally unstable.  A mental illness is defined as a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior.  Their common traits include sadness, loss of interest, fear, doubt, worry, mood swings, obsession, impulsiveness, and misinterpretation of reality.  Tricky indeed; if they read as familiar symptoms, it would be because nearly everyone deals with them to varying degrees at some point.  So, do we not all vacillate somewhere between mental stability and instability?

Each of us should be concerned with our mental health and we should be encouraged to explore various ways to keep ourselves mentally well, as there is a fine line between stability and instability.  Unfortunately, we live in a world that professes symptoms to mean disorders and disease.  Those who are diagnosed with a mental illness become stigmatized, simultaneously discouraging others who may exhibit consistent signs of emotional turmoil to seek help.  One in four adults (nearly 62 million Americans over the age of 20) and one in five children (19 million kids) will go through a significant mental health issue that has a pronounced affect on their daily lives in any given year.  60% never ask for support either through apprehension, denial, neglect, etc. 

Mental health issues are not well understood; the manner in which they’re dealt with even less so.  As is the case with most diagnosed health conditions, medication is the popular treatment route suggested for the so-termed mentally ill.  The mechanism of action that dictates the efficacy of such medications is interference with brain and body chemistry.  There are 75 trillion cells on average in the human body, each of which perform 200,000 chemical reactions every split second.  Disrupting the normal processes that control our body chemistry is a dangerous, controversial method that addresses nothing but the symptoms and takes no account of their cause or context.  Consider that the human body is still developing its normal chemistry during the teenage years and that the last two decades have seen a sharp rise in the prescription of anti-psychotic drugs to teenagers and young adults.       

Dr. Peter R. Breggin, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and former full-time consultant at the National Institute of Mental Health, insists that there has been overwhelming scientific evidence for decades correlating psychiatrically prescribed drugs with violence.  He has testified to Congress that research demonstrates a causal relationship between antidepressant drugs and the production of suicide, violence, mania, and other behavioral abnormalities.  Accounts like Breggin’s help in understanding the results of alarming statistical analyses like the one in 2012 which revealed that the common link between over 80% of the mass shootings was a perpetrator on anti-psychotic drugs.  The four most commonly prescribed psychotropic drugs all share side effects that include difficulty concentrating, mood or behavioral changes, feeling like you cannot control your actions, suicidal tendencies, confusion of identity, paranoia, sleeplessness, aggressiveness, and sudden loss of consciousness.  Such are the potential dangers of interrupting brain chemistry. 

Mental well-being, one of the pillars of overall health, is an intricate thing and its integrity can be challenged or broken by environmental, social, emotional, spiritual, and biological causes.  Our food crops are sprayed with weed and bug-killing chemicals and the animals that keep our meat supplies replenished are pumped with synthetic hormones, resulting in nutritional deficiencies and internal systemic chaos.  Traumas, both emotional and physical, are extremely common especially during youth, each creating functional discord in different ways.  Physical traumas deplete structural integrity and weaken our central nervous system’s ability to regulate basic processes, including the limbic system that controls our emotions and motivations, while emotional trauma often creates destructive psychological patterns. 

None of the above areas of discussion can be left out of our exploration into the reason why people are choosing to commit mass murder.  It may be easier to blame the instrument instead of the person wielding it or to blame altered brain chemistry for terrible actions; it may be easier to view the issue as a mental illness recognition problem that does not apply to you.  Meanwhile, mass shootings have spiraled out of control.  It is not the result of one thing, but many.  Attempting to fully understand the underlying problem will not be easy, but the time has arrived to do the difficult work.  We must accept that sometimes the answer is not black or white, but somewhere in between.

Sources: The Journal of Ethical Human Sciences and Services, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, The Mayo Clinic website

Dr. Chad McIntyre owns and operates the Triad Upper Cervical Clinic in Kernersville.  Though his practice specializes in Upper Cervical Care, emphasis is also placed on nutrition, physical activity, and stress management.  With his pre-doctoral education centered on the field of Psychology, Dr. McIntyre takes a particular interest in mental health.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Former Pro Volleyball Player's Life Changed By Upper Cervical Care

This article was originally published on www.avp.com (the website for the Association of Volleyball Professionals)
By Hans Stolfus 
As you can see, there’s no ‘Advertisement’ tag in the upper right hand corner of this page. No one has paid me to dispense the endorsement you’re about to read. I simply feel compelled to share my story as others suffering from a similar condition may benefit greatly from this information.
Anyone who followed my short-lived career on the sand is aware things began to dramatically unravel in 2007 after an acute neck injury limited my mobility to a point where nonstop health maintenance and physical therapy care were necessary just to continue competing. And even then my game was submarginal at best, only I didn’t have another source of income, so the motto became “fight through it” or pack my bags and move to the third pillar under the ‘Pier.’
Pain and tightness turned to pressure. Pressure turned to headaches and eventual migraines. Migraines turned to a life without light and meals spent on the floor. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
I saw chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, Rolfers, Heller Care Professionals, trainers, medical doctors, migraine, pain and cervical spine specialists, and rheumatologists. I visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the Headache Institute in Newport Beach, Calif., and Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, Calif.
Diagnosis by Karen Newcomer at Mayo: nothing. Mild degeneration between C4-C5-C6 (vertebrae of the cervical spine) and some moderately bad posture likely attributed to the pectus excavatum headlining my sternal cavity.
Diagnosis & Treatment by Philip O’Carroll at the Headache Institute: botox (yes, botox) into the neck muscles to release tension, nightly nerve pain meds, Treximet for Migraines, and a range of motion routine I had received from at least 36 previous practitioners.
Diagnosis & Treatment by Steven Graff-Radford at Cedars Sinai: two successive nerve injections and a Radiofrequency Neurotomy on the nerves surrounding C2 and C3. Yes, that’s right; I had them burn off nerve endings with the purpose of interfering daily pain signals. I resorted to the unthinkable. It was that or take a detour off PCH into the underlying brush like Junior Seau. And although it removed some of the immediate pain and pressure, it did nothing to fix the root of the problem.
Fast forward three months… walk by a “Busy Body” in Newport Beach, decide to stop in and inquire about a rowing machine for my apartment complex gym — as normal exercise remained completely out of the question, even after the neurotomy — explain my situation to the sales guy, listen to his “you should see this guy” spiel, roll my eyes invisibly, take the chiropractor’s card — which he just so happened to have on him — as to not seem rude, throw the card in the center council of my car, and then proceed to wait three weeks to dial the number and hear how this guy could somehow magically be ‘different‘ than all the rest.
To make an incredibly long story short, it turned out the Neurotomy wasn’t my last option after all. Although I had seen somewhere in the range of 300 previous chiropractors over the years, this guy’s practice was unlike anything I had previously heard of or experienced, focusing on the positioning of C1 (Atlas) and C2 (Axis) and their relationship to the brain stem, spinal cord, and entire central nervous system.
He used a series of numerous unorthodox x-rays, a prism-based stereoscopic viewing method to make each film ‘3D,’ a set of protractor-based measurements drawn on each ‘subluxated’ vertebrae, a heat sensitive instrument to test neurological transmission, a specific table to determine body symmetry, and a scientific technique to bring it all together and locate the problem so it could be fixed.
Bottom line: back in ’07 my atlas (C1) had been spun like a top and was pinching off a host of pain related nerves just beneath my skull ever since. One adjustment, which involved zero cracking or spinning of the head like typical ‘chiropractic,’ and not only did the pain and pressure disappear, but my vision improved, my short term memory began to return, and life started to seem like something worth living again. The procedure was most certainly heavy and intense, and prevented me from moving my head in any direction for 24 hours as a precautionary measure, but was, without a doubt, worth its weight in gold. My life changed the instant those nerves finally freed up, and I can’t imagine going back and feeling the way I did for almost four years ever again. And ready for this, it’s held. My body just needed to go back to the way it was meant to be and the rest has taken care of itself.
That’s it. Don’t want to preach, just want to inform. I tried it all and my solution came at a small office in Yorba Linda, Calif. at the hands of a gentleman by the name of Dr. David Topping. There’s only a handful of upper cervical “Blair” chiropractors in California and not many more scattered throughout the U.S. Why? I don’t want to get too ‘conspiracy theorist,’ but frankly there’s no profit margin in healing someone with only one visit. And that’s what practitioners like Topping are doing. They’re freeing up the nerve pathways from the brain to the body and finally allowing the body to heal itself. Not saying it’s for everybody, or that all patients will require only one adjustment as age and degeneration play an important role, but if you’ve got neck or back pain and have run the gamut like I had, might be time to try one more option. It could finally change everything.
And in case you’re wondering, I will play beach volleyball again. Maybe not at the professional level, but definitely for fun down in Corona Del Mar on a casual Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Football: The Greatest or Most Dangerous Sport in the World? Or Is It Both?

Football is the most popular sport in this country, having emphatically snatched away the undisputed title of “America’s favorite pastime” from baseball.  It is a tremendously entertaining game and an incredibly lucrative industry.  Yet, recent years have seen it come under fire for its inherent health risks.  Basic awareness of concussions has increased exponentially and with it has come increased scrutiny about the role that repetitive head trauma plays in the long (and short) term health of football players young and old, from the pee wee level to the National Football League. 
As the spotlight on the dangers of the game has grown substantially, so too have the number of questions being asked.  It is no longer just about college or professional athletes being grinded through a so-called exploitative system, but whether or not kids should ever be allowed to participate in youth leagues. 
Concussions had once thought to have been limited to trauma so substantial that it caused players to be knocked unconscious and, thus, restricting the population most susceptible to being concussed to the high school, college, and professional levels.  Now, however, a greater understanding has developed which acknowledges that concussions come in varying levels of severity.  A minor concussion may exhibit symptoms on a smaller scale.  Seeing stars, headaches, blurry vision, auditory or visual sensitivity, and dizziness are just a few of the common reactions to a concussive force to the head; be their duration a mere few minutes or sustained over several days or weeks, these symptoms are indicative of some sort of concussion. 
Justifiably, parents are more worried about their children.  The human body does not fully develop until the late teenage years.  Structural stability is established over many years, particularly the skull and vertebral column that surrounds and protects the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord, the integrity of which governs our basic core functions.  A child’s development could be stunted – structurally and internally – as a result of playing football. 
Controversy reigns over the sport.  It was back in 2011 when a retired NFL player sued the league for its supposedly "concerted effort of deception and denial" about the long-term damage that the sport could do to the human body.  That lawsuit eventually awarded former players a settlement of $765 million.  Nary has a month gone by these last four years without the latest wrinkle added to the developing story of concussions vs. football.  Chris Borland, a former University of Wisconsin All-American who had a fantastic rookie season as a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers last year, made waves this spring when he abruptly retired from the NFL in an effort to avoid future brain damage.  For a burgeoning star to quit football at age 24 was perhaps the start of a trend and the biggest sign of the changing times.  It was a bold move that inadvertently made Borland the de-facto face of the movement that believes football may not be around in another twenty or thirty years. 
Borland also represents a fascinating dichotomy that has emerged since traumatic brain injuries became such a prevalent water cooler topic: people who have deeply rooted passion for the game – players, coaches, and fans - are finding themselves torn between their love of football and the progressively clearer evidence that it is ruining peoples’ lives.  In a feature story in an August edition of ESPN The Magazine, Borland said he was reluctant to even watch football anymore and, when asked whether or not he would someday allow his kids to play, he responded, “I don’t know.  I don't think it's black-and-white quite yet.”
It certainly is not.  Family bonds are forged over football.  Important values are taught through it.  Fortunes are made from it.  Memories are created by it that last a lifetime.  So, attempts are being made to find a common ground; to better recognize its hazards and to use that attentiveness to make football safer.  Dr. Alex Powers is a neurosurgeon who works for Wake Forest University.  He is also an avid football fan.  His research and his passion for the sport are often at odds because Powers is one of the leading physicians exploring the topic of brain trauma as it relates to football.  According to an ESPN The Magazine article last fall, Labor Day weekend 2014 was a classic example of his plight.  He was in the lab, examining the charts of high school football players the week prior and then flew out with his two sons - both youth players - for a family vacation on the west coast to see the Oregon Ducks play on Saturday and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
According to Dr. Powers’ data, a single season of high school football does potentially irreversible damage to the brain in proportion to the severity and number of hits taken.  His stance has created widespread panic amongst football people.  Shawn Springs, a former Pro Bowl NFL player and the co-founder of a company that designs football helmets with greater safety measures, has told Powers that his research is going "to scare everyone to death...and kill football."  Doctors and researchers have told Powers, “You have to kill the game. There's no way, as a physician, that you can condone the data." 
All of us that have any interest in football are being forced to reevaluate our positions and form updated opinions based on the data that has become available, especially when determining whether or not to let our kids participate.  "I was totally naive about it,” Dr. Powers told ESPN The Magazine.  “I thought people would see the data and say, ‘This is awesome. No one has ever looked at it this way.’”  Instead, it seemed to explicitly point out the sad truth about football: that there may not be a way to make a violent game safe.
Imagine building a home on a tiny island in the middle of the most common area in the world to be affected by hurricanes.  Even if you constructed the sturdiest house on the planet, why would you voluntarily build it in a place where you knew – for a fact – that it was going to be subjected to high winds and flying debris for four months per year?  Is not football the equivalent for the human body?  Is it logical to subjective oneself to a game so intrinsically brutal (especially for kids)?
Of course, repetitive trauma during the first ten years of life is very common, extending beyond the realm of youth football.  Though a study was recently released suggesting that 1 in 30 pee wee football players would have at least one concussion per season, another study stated that bicycle accidents were twice as likely as football to cause concussions. 
The scope of this discussion needs to expand even further.  In many cases when we are young, symptoms that result from trauma do not immediately set in; oftentimes, traumas start a domino effect, which quietly takes its toll and produces the gradual onset of symptoms long after the fact.  Noticeable, subjective complaints like pain or Migraines or numbness may not happen, for instance, until a year (or many years) after an incident, and most doctors do not make the connection to trauma at that point.  To this day, concussions are a microcosm of a common problem in modern healthcare that only associates symptoms with trauma when the proximity of it can be tied to immediate effects. 
Knowing of a concussion and its detrimental effects is only half the battle.  Proper concussion detection should stimulate the advancement of education toward how to appropriately help the concussed heal and recover.  One of the most overlooked aspects of repetitive trauma is its affect on the upper neck area, where the lower brainstem responsible for regulating your organs, muscles, and tissues resides and where cerebrospinal fluid flows in a loop between the brain and the spinal cord.  The hits, tackles, and falls have a greater impact on the upper neck than any other body part because of its unique, more mobile but less stable structural design.  The head and neck protect your life line.  Helmets do not protect that vital head-neck junction, the misalignment of which can affect the brainstem, decrease the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, and throw off the body’s structural balance. 
Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Jim McMahon, is one of the higher profile concussion victims.  For years, he suffered from debilitating headaches, memory loss, and the early signs of dementia.  Dr. Scot Rosa, an Upper Cervical Chiropractor in New York, corrected McMahon’s upper neck misalignment.  Since then, McMahon noted in a recent article, “I haven’t had any headaches.”  Numerous noteworthy personalities from Montell Williams to Sidney Crosby to Jerry Rice have had the same procedure and achieved similar success.  The correction does not reverse the damage accumulated over decades in cases like McMahon’s, but it can halt the downward spiral and remove one of the major obstacles to concussion recovery.  In kids, however, the chances for full recovery are much greater; the earlier the problem is identified and addressed, the better the odds of getting back to normal. 
Frankly, this is a scary topic.  As fans of the game, are we to ignore the ever more prevalent dangers?  “It's an American pastime, but it's hurting people,” points out Chris Borland’s mother, Zebbie, in the ESPN The Magazine piece.  “I’m conflicted,” adds Borland.  Can we be passionate football fans, simultaneously denounce the sport as too dangerous for our kids to play, but then condone it for other kids?  One thing is certain: we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and pretend that there is no discussion to be had; there is a wide-ranging conversation to be had about ethics, safety, prevention, treatment, etc.  So, enjoy the season, but join the debate too.
Sources: ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Outside The Lines, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, The Deseret News

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why I Believe In Upper Cervical Care

By Mollie Gordon, HHC
Life is full of unexpected surprises. Some are happy while others aren’t, and we all experience both kinds. This summer, I had my full portion of not-so-happy ones: a car accident and an incident in a public park. Both of them tested my body’s resilience as well as my emotional resolve. Both of them occurred within a month of each other. Both of them could have really hurt me, but they didn’t. Why? I believe it's because I’m under Upper Cervical Care as a life choice.
Four Years Ago
I have spent the bulk of my life not using traditional medicine as my go-to. Instead, I have used chiropractic care, quality nutrition principles, and alternative health approaches like massage and bodywork. Four years ago, I came under care at Dr. Chad’s because Upper Cervical Care made sense when he explained it to me. Correct the misalignment at the top of my spine, and my body will regain structural balance over time. I had a great general chiropractor in Los Angeles, who kept me well for 13 years, but I never understood why I needed my bones to be cracked and twisted every time I went to see him. When I learned about Upper Cervical Care and the relationship between the parts of my spine and the top two bones in the neck, it finally made sense. I chose Upper Cervical Care for overall health, and my spine corrected itself. The natural curve returned to my lower and upper back, and my legs became “equal length” again. Chronic pain left my body, and I felt the healthiest I had in years. In fact, not only did my body regain structural balance, but my life did, too. I found my calling as a Holistic Health Coach, and now work part-time at Dr. Chad’s helping with office operations and clinic marketing.
June 2015: The Car Accident
On a Saturday in mid-June 2015, I was rear-ended while at a full-stop. My immediate thought (after, “Wha-?!?!?!?) was “Thank God I’m under care at Dr. Chad’s.” In the summer of 2003, I was also rear-ended while at a full-stop, and I remember clearly how immediately following the accident, I had radiating pain down my right arm. Following this recent accident, I mindfully checked my body to see if I were again feeling radiating pain. I was in shock, so it was particularly important that I really be aware of how my body felt following the impact. Fortunately, this time I didn’t have that kind of pain. I felt both feet on the ground equally (no need for a “kickstand”), and I felt much more structurally balanced than the time in 2003. I knew I had whiplash, but it was whiplash following a proper alignment instead of whiplash following a weakened structural balance.
I came into Dr. Chad’s the Monday following the accident, and by that time, my pain had significantly increased. I asked for new X-rays because I knew this was a new injury, and while it was similar, it was new. He corrected my misalignment, and the knot of pain that had formed in the base of my neck was instantly relieved. I had nausea and sickness as a result of the trauma and the correction, but by going home and not working that day, I was able to rest and heal more quickly than if I’d addressed my whiplash with medicine. When I awoke from my long nap, I felt much better, and the nausea was gone.
Later that week, I met with a sports medicine doctor at Urgent Care to confirm that no bones had been broken. I was still experiencing pain in my mid-back, and he determined that my pain was simply my muscles healing from the trauma and that it was a natural muscular response. He referred me to an Osteopath in the event that my hips continued to hurt, but he also seemed rather confident that I would heal well. We agreed that my approach to health was a good one.
Since the car accident, I have continued to be checked by Dr. Chad on a consistent basis. I know well enough how the body works, and following a trauma as severe as my whiplash, my body and muscles will need time and maintenance to keep my upper cervical bones in place. Again, each day that I wake up not feeling my best, I say to myself, “Thank God I’m under Upper Cervical Care.”
July 2015: The Park Incident
The Friday before the month-mark of my car accident held an unexpected event that I will long remember. For the past 3 years, I have worked with individuals with Special Needs, specializing in Autism. This particular Friday, I was excited about continuing to heal from the car accident and to begin a more intensive walking schedule than I had been observing. Unexpectedly, my plan isn’t what happened. Instead, the individual with whom I was working had a biological event and became severely aggressive while we were on a walk in the park. I am unable to give details of the event for legal reasons, but the end result was my being attacked 7 separate times, including being knocked to the ground. This scared me to my core, but even as I was being evaluated by the EMTs, “Thank God I’m under Upper Cervical Care” played in the background of our conversation.
Because this incident was so shocking and intense, I found myself in yet another Urgent Care facility. I was again evaluated for physical injury, and luckily all I sustained was muscle sprain and some bruises. Emotionally, I was also injured, but I have been under the appropriate care for that. As I told Dr. Chad about it during one of our talks, I began crying because suddenly I really understood how close I’d been to greater injury had I not been in structural balance before these events had happened, a choice I made four years prior. In a new way, I came to believe even more strongly about how valuable it is to be under Upper Cervical Care in all its forms: initial acute injury, ongoing maintenance, and the unexpected acute injury. It was then that I also realized I had saved myself from the hospital not once but twice this summer because of how I choose to take care of myself.
I am still healing from both incidents in different ways, but I am confident that I am doing everything I can to avoid long-term complications from these events. I will be under Upper Cervical Care for the rest of my life because I know that while I can hold a correction for several months, my alignment has been compromised by this car accident, and I will need the maintenance plan that Dr. Chad and other UCC doctors offer. I don’t want to be a woman with serious lower back problems or other health complications later in life because I didn’t properly address the real injury: whiplash and brainstem subluxation. Yes, life will happen, but I’m thankful that I have this natural approach available where I live. This summer’s events only strengthened my belief in Upper Cervical Care. It works.
Mollie is a Holistic Health Coach. Please visit her website at www.sacredbodyhealth.com for more information. In addition, Mollie is the Marketing and Business Coach at Triad Upper Cervical Clinic. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Natural Birth After C-Section Both Possible And Safe

It was a logical question to ask, “Are you sure you want to try this again after what happened last time?” 

Three years ago, I watched my wife go through a multi-day struggle to bring our daughter into the world.  Our attempts at a water birth at home turned into a nightmare at the hospital ending in an emergency c-section.  So, we understood the concerns from our loved ones. 

The general population assumes “once a c-section, always a c-section.”  That is a myth; when we found out that we were expecting again last fall, we had to determine whether or not we wanted to prove it.  In our family, being healthy is an expectation.  I own and operate a holistic health facility and my wife is a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA Essential Oils.  We do our best to practice as we teach and we are highly encouraging of women who want a natural birth, which is safer and better for both mom and child without the interruptions of routine medical procedures and unnecessary interventions. Truth be told, it had always been my wife’s dream to give birth in the water; plus, we just did not want to assume the risk of another c-section.  The concern with Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC) is uterine rupture, but that 1 in 100 or less chance is a far cry from the potential (and much more common) complications of a second major surgery for my wife in three years.

Atop our to-do list, then, was finding the right support system.  We knew we wanted a team of midwives.  Based on the mere 8% of births attended by midwives in the United States today, that might seem a strange choice given our previous experience.  Yet, consider that 70-80% of the births in every other developed country are attended by midwives because they are the most qualified people to help.  In a recent landmark study, it was found that women under the care of midwives during their pregnancies had c-sections just 5% of the time, as compared to the rates as high as 48% in some areas of the country for women whose primary pre-and-post-natal care is guided by an obstetrician.  In America, we have the highest maternal mortality rate in the industrialized world and use midwives less than 10% of the time.  Statistically, we should be following someone else’s lead given that the countries doing things differently from us are getting better outcomes. 

My wife did her homework and found the route that she wanted to take, leading us 50 miles down the road to Natural Beginnings Birth and Wellness Center in Statesville.  Our first visit was going to be the determining factor for me.  I am not one to ask a lot of questions in those situations; I am an observer and a reader of body language.  I want to know that the people trying to help know their stuff and genuinely care. 

The team at Natural Beginnings put my mind at ease quickly.  On day one in September, we met with one of their three midwives and their lead nursing assistant.  We interacted with each member of their ten person staff by the end of May.  Everyone is friendly and professional.  In my own office, we try to create an atmosphere atypical of the usual doctor’s office, so I found it very comforting that the environment that they’ve created is more relaxed too (not so stiff and uninviting).  The delivery rooms look like our guest bedroom suite at home; it’s a great facility.  I walked away confident that they would see us through to our desired conclusion. 

When things get difficult, though, that is when you want the people that you have entrusted with your health to shine; not to tell you what you want to hear, but to tell you what you need to hear; not to give into the demands of frustration, but to encourage and guide you toward the end result. 

Our son’s due date came and went.  Contractions started…and then stopped.  This went on for several days and, while certainly common, it felt all too familiar to us.  The next ten days were a roller coaster ride.  We did our best not to allow the memories from three years prior to flood our consciousness, but it was one of the most difficult weeks-and-a-half of our lives.  The further removed we were from the due date, the harder it became not to wonder “is a normal birth just not in the cards?” 

It was during those eleven days of stop-start contractions and growing anxiety based on past experience that the midwives at Natural Beginnings shined brightest.  One reminded my wife that “your body does work” and to keep trusting it.  Another calmly but deliberately told us, “Your baby is not in the right position” and gave us the exact things necessary to move him; support and instruction we wished we had been given with our daughter. 

God Bless the midwife on call when our son finally decided to start making his way out.  Half a dozen phone calls were made, us practically begging her to acknowledge that it was time to head to Statesville and have this baby, but she kept calm and eventually had to remind us that if we came in and it was not time to deliver, then only a certain amount of time could pass before they would be legally required to send us to the nearby hospital.  She knew our history and that it was the last thing we wanted. Hearing her say that put things in perspective for us and helped us to remain patient.  We went with the flow, got an amazing boost from an awesome friend, and reached “go time” in the wee hours of the morning. 

Fortunately, we had powerful advocates on our side who helped quiet the doubting voices in our heads and who, ultimately, guided us to an incredible birthing experience. We arrived at the Birth Center at 1:30AM.  Our son was born two hours later in the water.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.  We were at home resting by 8AM.  This was truly the experience we had wanted with our daughter and we feel so fortunate to have accomplished it with our son. 

To Tracie, Marcia, and Nicole, we are eternally grateful.  If it was not for your guidance and support, our dream would not have come true.  To the rest of your team, we thank you for the kind words and the smiles.  To everyone reading this article, do not be afraid to go the natural route (or to encourage it); do your research and, if you decide that it is right for you, then my wife and I strongly recommend Natural Beginnings Birth and Wellness Center.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Chad and Sarah McIntyre

The primary sources cited in this article are The Midwives Alliance of North America, the 2008 documentary The Business of Being Born, and the website of the Mayo Clinic.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Neck Pain: Its Simple Cause and Its Simple Solution

Neck pain is an increasingly common affliction ranging from annoying to life-altering. Identifying its cause is where an understanding of neck pain’s solution begins.  Primarily, neck pain is caused by the mis-alignment of the top cervical vertebra, nicknamed the atlas or C1.  Foundationally, the area where the head and upper neck meet must be balanced or else the rest of the body compensates in adaptation.  As with any other structure, the body shifts when the foundation moves.  Each of us is born with a structural support system in our body to help carry the weight of the head on top of the neck and the rest of the body from the shoulders down.  The supports are the natural spinal curves and the discs in between the vertebrae.  When the C1 misalignment occurs, the structural support curve in the neck is lost. 

Alfred Brieg, a leading neurosurgeon, states that the loss of the support curve in the neck stretches the spinal cord and causes tension on the brainstem, cranial nerves, the cervical part of the spinal cord, and the cervical nerve roots.  This is often goes undetected for years because pain and symptoms do not always come about in the early stages and, if they do, we have been taught to use medication as a way of ignoring the pain instead of finding its source.  Kids are resilient and usually show few signs, but a generation of texting and computer use is thought to be responsible for added strain that makes symptoms arise faster than in the past. 

Normal Curve

Curve Lost

Once foundational stability is lost and the support curve in the neck is gone, the weight from the head is carried more so on the discs than is intended.  The added pressure causes the discs to break down. Spinal degeneration – a fancy way of saying structural breakdown - has long been passed off as a part of the aging process, yet generalization is not evidence.  Age causes our bodies to wear down; not break down.  Research indicates that stress on the joint surfaces is the primary cause of degeneration; the primary cause of stress on the joint surfaces is loss of structural balance; and the primary cause of structural imbalance is head and neck (foundational) misalignment.

A study was performed to compare the spinal degeneration of fighter jet pilots against their military peers.  The pilots showed significantly more degeneration because of G-forces on their bodies when they flew; increasing the stress on their joints caused their bodies to break down faster. 

It’s imperative that the head/neck misalignment is corrected as soon as possible. The sooner it is, the sooner the recovery begins. The body can readapt and re-structure once the foundation is set.

Once foundational balance is restored, food allergies, emotional stress, lack of physical activity, and medication side effect are the most common secondary causes of neck pain. The longer the causes are left undiscovered, the longer pain persists.

Thinking good things for you,

Dr. Chad