MY STORY

“There is a perfect storm on the horizon.” How many times have we heard this comment in relation to some sort of health crisis? If you are reading this book in a public place, take a moment and look around. Are there people hunched over their phones or laptops? They say sitting is the new “cancer.” Now, we have learned that up to 80% of people experience headaches, either episodic or chronic in nature.

For decades, many medical professionals treating the headache epidemic felt that headaches caused a hunching of posture due either to pain or in order to “protect” the headache . They concluded that this poor posture actually exacerbated the symptoms.

After twenty-plus years of treating headaches, I could see the truth was actually the other way around: poor posture is a main cause of headaches. It also affects the onset and duration of the headache. I, too, became a victim of daily, chronic, debilitating headaches. This is my story.

As you read, if you are a headache sufferer like me, you are looking for a “magic bullet,” some nugget that will solve the pain once and for all. There are definitely “nuggets” in this book, but I want to be clear: what made the difference for me was a combined approach that I will review chapter by chapter.

Because my history will likely differ from yours, I feel you need to understand my journey to be able to apply these nuggets (or not) based on your own unique story. Headaches are definitely NOT a one-size fits all! You must be smart, take notes and be willing to change.

Most important of all, get STRONGER (head healthier). As a clinician treating biomechanical issues (many of my patients suffered from headaches as well), I needed a multifaceted approach. Not every adjustment, exercise, or ergonomic change was universal.

As a patient, I found I had a unique history, much like many of my own patients. I grew up with a single mother, two older sisters, and two older brothers. Our diet was not the best. I was involved in contact sports (football and boxing) at a younger age than I would approve as a chiropractor (and dad) today. It was a different time, one without seat belts or concussion concerns.

I continued playing football through college, which helped pay the bills so I could afford chiropractic school after earning my Bachelor of Science degree. I had a few fender benders, rode my share of roller coasters, and slept in bad beds, but like most twenty-somethings, I felt I was invincible.

I was fortunate enough to marry the girl of my dreams in 1991. Soon after, I began a career as a professional student. In hindsight, chiropractic school was such a blessing for us. Instead of pharmacology, chiropractic students study nutrition. That’s one of the main differences between chiropractic and medical education. It’s easy to go down the road of thinking one education is better than another; I encourage you to avoid this as it will not help you navigate what you need to do to cure your headaches.

Now, nutritional advice can be frustrating, to say the least. I will discuss, in plain terms, what I recommended for my patients and what worked for them. I try my best not to bash what did not work, but instead to give honest feedback. We all have different chemistries, predispositions, genetics and the like. What my wife and I appreciated most from my chiropractic education was how it opened our eyes to how our food is harvested and prepared, and what our bodies need to thrive.

Like most Americans, I did not pay particular attention to what I ate. I ate what tasted good and what I could afford on a student’s budget. I soon learned that food is fuel not necessarily meant to be fun ... at least at first. Looking back, I see that a huge piece of health is related to our biomechanics.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, “look well to the spine for cause and cure of disease.” Thomas Edison reported, “the doctor of the future will be concerned with the human frame and how it is maintained.” Chiropractic school gave me a tremendous education centered around how the body is designed and how movement, or lack of proper movement, profoundly affects our ability to function and thrive.

After chiropractic school, I founded a clinic with another D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic) and an M.D. that focused on finding the best outcomes for our patient base. This was another fantastic educational experience for me, as I got to see first-hand that medical patients and chiropractic patients alike had two main symptoms: headaches and back pain. Times had NOT changed. Why, after thousands of years, are we dealing with what I consider “mechanical” dysfunction? I suppose Hippocrates and Edison were pretty smart guys.

My wife Jill and I are blessed to be proud parents of two fine young men, Kellan and Ford. We raised them to be very careful with sugar intake. We told them when they first started playing sports that sugar would make their muscles shrink. I know, I know … not necessarily accurate, but it worked! Shortly put, our boys developed different bodies than many of their peers and eventually became the only brothers in our area to letter in football for all four high school years, quite an accomplishment to us.

It was not just the elimination of sugar, obviously. We focused on organic and natural food preparation, too. I’m asked frequently why in the world I, as a chiropractor, allow my boys to play football. This is another nuclear bomb of a question in today’s politically correct world. Yes, I see how critical biomechanics are to health, but I believe football contributed to my own health issues to some degree.

Yet, I am a dad. I remember how much I learned about who I was, what life was about, what it meant to be a man, and how very much I loved the game of football. I do believe my boys inherited the same burning desire, and I did not want a passion from God to be repressed or pushed to the side. I do believe we are all given skills and passions from God. Those skills are either joyously developed or else we go through life not knowing why we are here or what we are supposed to do.

Interestingly, football led me to chiropractic practice and now here I am, writing a book I believe can change the lives of millions of people. Having a family and helping others are, I believe, the reasons I was put on this planet. Raising a family has been the joy of my life. I am honored to have been able to take part in more than 100,000 patient interactions through my two-plus decades in practice. Even though the recommendations to my patients have been helpful, I sadly did not always take my own advice.

We can debate the reasons why, but like so many, I became a statistic of the cancer world in 2013. I was under stress, like many. I had had a number of concussions. I was not a smoker, yet I developed stage four head/neck cancer (squamous cell carcinoma of the throat). It was quite a blow, and I was encouraged to leave my practice to focus on recovery, which I did.

My wife lovingly directed me through three months of detox in a natural-healing environment in an attempt to begin the healing process. We had been advised by the cancer hospital that there was no time to waste. We were scared of chemotherapy and hopeful we could avoid it. However, the advice from our experts (natural and medical) was that the cancer was advancing too quickly. So our treatment became a combination of natural and medical interventions that I will discuss in more detail later. Five-plus years later, I am, in many ways, healthier, happier and more blessed than ever. Cancer was the hardest battle of my life, but those battles have a way of teaching you what you need to know.

My battle with chronic headaches was a bit more sinister. I vaguely remember having episodic headaches as a child and young man. I often attributed them to a lack of sleep or a result of football contact or boxing as a youngster. The headache pain became much more consistent (and persistent) after cancer (the period I like to refer to as “A.C.”). I suspect my medical history may be more extensive than most.

My hope is that if I can heal from chronic headaches with my history, you can, too. There is anecdotal evidence that radiation therapy to the head/neck area can cause headaches. Side effects of chemotherapy include headaches as well, and both of these were part of my treatment plan. Whatever the underlying cause, I know now that multiple elements were involved in my recovery. I am a firm believer that most people will need multiple strategies for their healing.

Why read THIS book?

In my opinion, the brainstem is not given nearly enough attention when discussing headache symptoms. Technology Headache addresses the direct importance of the brainstem, specifically how it affects oxygen levels in the brain and thus headache symptoms. Additionally, the pressure poor posture applies to the brainstem is a critical point of headache research.

The following chapters will describe more than 100 treatment and lifestyle changes aimed at increasing oxygen to and for the brainstem. I believe this book will change the way headache symptoms are approached and treated in the future.