My life path was made quite simple. In 1991 I suffered a neck injury. After baseball practice, a friend and I partook in a friendly wrestling match. I was losing and found myself upside down. In an instant my life would change forever. I was accidentally dropped upside down on my head. I heard a loud crunch in my neck upon impact. Afterwards I rolled over and had no pain and no paralysis. I thought I averted disaster. Over the next 2 years I spiraled into chronic health problems not knowing that it was caused by a neck injury.
Slowly over six months I found myself complaining of headaches, fogginess in the head and neck pain. My energy was lower, and my sleep patterns were disrupted. I ignored the symptoms and figured at some point they would go away. The symptoms did not go away, in fact they grew worse. The downward spiral was slow, and as a result I never connected the dots between my loss of health and the wrestling injury. And why should have I connected the dots? I was never taught that my spine had much to do with my health, were you?
Within six months my headaches were a daily occurrence. I felt an intense pain at the base of the skull. My head felt heavy, my mind was cloudy and my normal energy levels began to fade. My bed became my prison. Falling to sleep became a horrible ordeal. For those of you who have had sleep trouble you understand the tricks that one plays to bring on sleep. I would often toss and turn for hours, put my head where my feet would normally go, switch from left side to my right side, lie on my stomach, anything just to get to sleep. For the better part of two years it took a minimum of three hours to fall asleep. And to make matters worse once asleep I would wake 3-5 times a night. When morning would come instead of feeling refreshed, I felt like a truck had run over me.
One and half years after the trauma the spectrum of symptoms increased. I had daily nausea never to the point of throwing up, but it was always there making eating more of a choir than an enjoyment. Standing often caused my field of vision to become black, never to the point of fainting, however it was necessary to hold on to something until the blood would get back in my head and my vision would return. Slowly over time my sinuses swelled shut. It was as if my entire body was slowly shutting down. I felt like I was trapped and there didn’t seem to be a way out. For over two years I told no one about how I felt. I figured at some point it would go away. I would often dream about feeling well. It had been so long that I almost forgot what that felt like.
By two years the headaches I felt at the base of my skull were constant, insomnia was a nightly occurrence, and my emotional state started to sink into a state of despair. How much longer would I have to wait until my body fixed itself? My most treasured activities were not even enjoyable anymore and I began to think that life wasn’t worth it. The fear of the unknown began to creep in and eventually I started to have anxiety and night sweats. My physical hell now became a mental one too. I started to worry that I had cancer. I developed anxiety and started to flip through medical texts trying to determine what ailed me.
One afternoon two and a half years after the wrestling accident I had a thought creep into my mind that became the impetus that would start me on a path of seeking an answer. I was walking home from school and thought “if I have to feel like this for another two more years, I will probably just kill myself.” This scared me to action.
I told my mom what was going on, and like most Americans we schedule an appointment with our family doctor. I figured they would run some tests find out what was wrong and fix me. After all the shows on tv make it seem as though it is that simple. My hope was that finding the cause and fixing it would be simple. Simple it was not.
We initially consulted our family doctor who ran a cursory consultation and rather quickly admitted he did not know what was wrong. I was referred to an internist. He ran a complete blood panel, brain MRI and took my vitals. All of the tests came back negative. I was then referred to a neurologist where a CT of my brain was taken, and a complete neurological workup was performed. Everything was negative. I was then referred to an infectious disease doctor. I was bitten by a tick several times in the past, so they were trying to rule out lymes disease. The lyme’s panel came back negative also.
I was eventually told that I had seen 3 of the best medical doctors in the San Francisco bay area and based on medical science there was nothing wrong with me. I was told to seek a psychiatrist. It was so OBVIOUS, of course it is all in my head, right? I would later find out that it was not all in my head it was just a little below my head where the cause would be found.
Even though I was sure it wasn’t psycho-somatic I followed through with medical advice. I went to a psychologist that had me take several tests. That seemed reasonable, maybe there was something in my psyche that was doing this to me? At that point I didn’t really care what the cause was. I just wanted the key that would let me out of the nightmare. I was told that I had anxiety and depression, which was already obvious to me. But was it the chicken or the egg? The anxiety and depression were the effect of feeling like crap for two years not the other way around. It was at this point that I realized that the medical approach was splintered. There were so many disciplines within the so-called science that one end didn’t really know what the other was doing. And furthermore, their approach was focused on effects, always chasing the boogey man without trying to get to the root, the cause. I was done. I realized that the discipline called medicine didn’t have the answer. I realized that their model of health care wasn’t so scientific after all and their tests were obviously not able to answer the why of my problem. I wasn’t interested in swallowing drugs I was interested in correcting the cause of the problem so I could get truly well.
I was told by the psychologist that a drug was necessary to treat my depression. When I got home from that appointment, I told my mom what they wanted to do. I also told my mom that the last thing I wanted to do was take psychiatric drugs and her response was, “Drew maybe it will help you feel better”. My response was mom I don’t want to feel better I want to get better. There is a large difference between the two. Feeling better doesn’t always mean a greater state of health was achieved. My old joke was I could have drunk a twelve pack and felt better does that mean I was healthier? What is the difference between the two? This was where a line was drawn in the sand. I knew if I was to get well that I would have to find something that worked with the body. I realized that health wasn’t something that came from the outside it was something that happened from the inside. I did not know what the answer would be, but I knew damn well I wasn’t going to live the rest of my life as I had been living it. I had to find an answer and I was going to go to the ends of the earth to find it if that is what it was going to take.
Through a long circuitous route, we found a support group in San Francisco. It was a support group for people who suffered with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Through our research it seemed this was most likely what we were dealing with. The support group gave us the number of a homeopath in our area. We scheduled an appointment and the search continued.
The homeopath asked me over 100 questions in consultation. She uncovered something that no one else had. She asked about my trauma history. The constant pain at the base of my skull was a tip off that something was going on in my neck. It was then that I realized that the wrestling injury I had had over two and a half years earlier might correlate to my health problems. At the end of her consultation she said, “Drew I think I can help you, but I think you also need to go and see Dr. Tom forest in Pleasanton.” She explained that he did a unique procedure in which the top vertebra in the neck was corrected through specific, gentle correction. She also explained that he did not twist pop or pull anything and furthermore she said,” do not let anyone talk you into seeing anyone else. Dr. Forest is the best in the whole San Francisco bay area. Go see him.
When I got home, I soon realized why Dr. Stratford was so vehement in her recommendation. When I returned home my mom said, “why don’t you just see a chiropractor in walnut creek?”. Mom’s usually know best, I can speak from experience, but this was one of those times where I was definite in my desire to see Dr. Tom Forest and that is what I did. I did not realize how fortuitous that referral from the homeopath would be. In life there are forks in the road. Each decision we make can move our lives in a different direction. This decision was one of those decisions that changed the entire course of my life.
We made an appointment with Doctor Forest and made the 35-minute drive to Pleasanton, California. In consultation I learned that our bodies were meant to heal and repair. I learned that there was a wisdom, referred to as innate intelligence, that was always striving for health and if we are sick the best place to look for its cause was the nerve system. I also learned that the nerve system composed of the brain the spinal cord and the associated spinal nerves was the superhighway upon which life-giving messages were transmitted to tell each cell in the body how to function. Furthermore Dr. Forest explained that the junction between c-1(from here on referred to as atlas) and the skull, was the most vulnerable structural area in the spine and most vulnerable to spinal misalignment. Trauma can cause this junction to misalign causing interference to the central nerve system. The result is DYSFUNCTION and poor health. Later in this book we will talk in detail about the bodies inherent ability to heal and repair if the nerve system is functioning optimally. You will learn about why the upper neck is the most critical neurological area in the human body and how devastating a misalignment at the base of the skull can be to your health. And most importantly for those that are suffering and have tried every modality under the sun, you will find hope and be armed with information that if acted upon has the possibility of creating your fork in the road that will ultimately change your life. I look forward to sharing with your upper cervical care. Without it my life would have been misery. With it I have transformed into the person that I always knew was inside but because of the interference I was not able to express.
I have gratitude and respect for all of those great upper cervical doctors who have blazed the path before me. I give thanks to Dr. Tom Forest who ultimately gave me my life back. To Dr. Muncy and Dr. Kuhn for continuing my care which has allowed me to do what I do at the level of health that I function at today. In closing BJ Palmer said many years ago, “you never know how far reaching the things you may say or do today may affect the lives of millions tomorrow. “It is my hope that my practice touches the lives of thousands and they seek out upper cervical doctors around the world so that they can experience being connected to their source, expressing life to its fullest potential, and living the life that they were born to live. In short, Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic complete transformed my life.