Friday, July 23, 2010

Does chiropractic work?

My first chiropractic experience was over 25 years ago. I managed to twist the sheets around my legs one night and tripped out of bed in the morning and gave my neck a good twist. I went to work in pain holding my neck at about a 15 degree angle from the vertical taking some kind of OTC pain medication in the hopes it would fix itself.

I came to the conclusion it was not going away on its own and decided to go to my doctor. I told my boss what I was planning and he strongly suggested I go visit his chiropractor instead. I didn't know much about chiropractic at the time and pretty much figured it was witch doctor stuff, but he convinced me so I called and made an appointment. He was able to see me quite quickly so off I went.

I can't remember off hand all the things that happened that day. I know there was some kind of examination, x-rays, and the guy ran some kind of doo-hickey along my spine. I remember he had me take my shirt off for that and that he wrote on my back with a grease pencil.

After lots of explanation that sounded like so much voodoo to me, he started working on me. He adjusted my hips, and then my back on a table. Then he had me sit in this stout chair. This was a serious chair. Think electric chair kind of stout. He let loose with a twist and a jerk of my neck and I heard this amazingly loud pop coming from my neck. Of course my first thought was "he broke it". He didn't, and when he asked me to move my neck around I realized I could move it almost into a vertical position and the pain was greatly lessened.

I went back a couple times for more of the same, and the neck problem was resolved. He told me that my hips were misaligned because my wallet was so thick. I had a lot of crap in there, not all that much money though. So I got a new thinner wallet and removed most of the unnecessary stuff. Not sure if that made any real difference or not, but I still try to keep the wallet thinner.

I still had this ache in my lower back that had been there for several years, but I figured it was just something that I would live with and if it acted up, I took some aspirin. Over time it got somewhat worse. Not screaming type pain, just mild, dull, continuous discomfort. I finally convinced myself to go to a chiropractor again and went off to see Dr. Mike Hulsebus down by Cherryvale mall in Rockford, IL. I don't recall just why I went there instead of the guy I had gone to before.

He also did x-rays and some kind of examination, and there was the voodoo like explanations, and some adjustments. He said it would take several weeks or months of treatment. I am thinking scam to get me to keep coming back, but I was into it now and I figured it probably would not harm me and might actually help.

One day Dr. Mike came into the room and said a colleague of his, Dr. Marty was going to adjust me today. I don't recall exactly what he said, but it was something about a "Dr. Marty special adjustment". Dr. Marty is a good sized guy with big hands. He gave me a special adjustment right in the middle of my back. I don't know quite what he did, but a loud crack later and the ache in my lower back a few inches below where he was working eased quite a bit. I went back a few more times, and then started a once a month plan. The ache has never returned.

I got kind of tired of driving across town to go there, and dropped out of the monthly routine. But I think because of some neck stiffness, decided it would be a good idea to start going again. It turns out his brother, Dr. Jim, runs a clinic just down the street from where I live so I started going there and have continued pretty much monthly for a number of years now, with a few gaps along the way, mostly when I was out of town on business for months at a time.

Once again the x-rays, examination, and voodoo explanations. And some adjustments that made a difference in how my neck felt. I am not sure how, but I ended up getting assigned mostly to the care of Dr. Scott.

One time I went in with a very stiff neck that might well have been related to a major sinus infection I had. No amount of OTC decongestants, antihistimines and aspirins was doing much good so I had gone to one of those immeadiate care places for some better drugs that were not doing much either.

I don't recall if it was Dr. Jim or Dr. Scott who saw me that day but whoever it was convinced me to let him have a go at treating the sinus infection along with the stiff neck. I guess I figured I had nothing to lose so I agreed. I have no clue what he did, or why it worked, but by the time I walked out to the car my ears and sinuses had started to drain. Within an hour I felt better than I had in a week of OTC and prescription drugs. I went back two more days in a row for additional adjustments (gratis by the way), but by the next day it was pretty much gone.

I have since gone in several more times for sinus problems, and while it does not always work as dramatically as the first time, it has several times, and other times it is more gradual.

I have noticed over the years a decided decrease in hay fever symptoms and frequency of sinus problems when I go regularly. I can't put a number on it, but when I go regularly, I have had entire years with very limited hay fever and sinus symptoms. Could be coincidence I suppose, but I am not a big believer in coincidence happening over and over again.

My neck and back feel pretty good, although I do get some stiffness in my neck now and then. It's not even an ache, just stiff mostly. Sometimes it gets uncomfortable enough that I will go in early for some tweaking. They always adjust my hips even though my hips never hurt, but maybe that's because they keep after it.

My wife started going and has had considerable relief from dizziness she has suffered from for many years.

So I guess the question is "Does chiropractic work"? My answer is that it has worked pretty good for me. Good enough that mostly I spend my own money on chiropractic treatments because my health insurance covers very little if any of the costs.

So why does chiropractic sometimes get a bad rap? I think it is several things. One is the voodoo sounding explanations they give for why it works. It almost has a new age, hippie kind of sound to it. I am long since caring why it works because it has been helpful for me, and I believe in the results.

Another issue is the business practices of chiropractic in general. There is a focus on long term "maintainence" treatments that seems to work for me, but many people see as a scam to get money for treatments they don't need. They are also pretty good at self promotion. It is a business after all, but some people probably see it as just self serving. I personally am not convinced that some self serving, self promotion is completely bad. But I can understand that some people see it as inappropriate. While I have not run across it with these guys, I have read and heard that some chiropractors do engage in some business practices that I would consider questionable.

There are also a few very public kooks and out and out charlatans in the chiropratic business offering dubious and expensive (and likely non-helpful) treatments that don't do the image of the profession any good. But, every profession has its bad eggs.

So do I have any advice for those who might be considering chiropractic care? I have had favorable results for the things they have worked on over the years. I still don't get the explanations for why it works that they talk about now and then, but I just politely listen, and realize that while maybe I don't quite get the explanations for why it works, I do believe in the favorable results I have gotten. BTW, I don't know how penicillin works either, but I believe in those results, too.

Dr. Jim now has two additional associates, Dr. Craig and Dr. Jim's son, Dr. Ryan. I think all four of them have worked on me at one time or another (not completely sure Dr. Ryan has), but I still prefer having the same guy working on me most of the time. I guess I have just gotten used to Dr. Scott over time. Dr. Jim and Dr. Mike's father was an early practicioner of chiropractic in Illinois, and they seem to have about 30 relatives and associates in the business at various clinics scattered around Northern Illinois (maybe 30 is a slight exaggeration).

They even have their own web site. Here are the guys that work on me.

Quite the rogues gallery. :)

One thing that I appreciate is that none of these guys has ever made me feel rushed, or that they had something better to do if I have questions about my treatments. They always have made sure when I ask questions that they take whatever time it takes to answer my questions. And the office staff is pretty good about dealing with insurance, even though my insurance does not foot much of the bill.

Cell phone photos snapped today

A turkey family at the park. My wife got this one as we were driving through the park.

One might think that someone would have bothered to run spell check on a sign advertising a $5000+ grill. Perhaps that would take a premium of effort. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

$20 food dehydrator update #2

Update to

Well, the experiment with the Harbor Freight $20 food dehydrator was a bust after all. It made good jerky, but the trays all failed miserably. Not sure why. Perhaps the material chosen to make the trays is not a good choice, perhaps it was molded improperly. In any case I brought it back to HF and got a replacement for it. I had to give it a second chance. For the price point, it is an incredible bargain except for the trays melting. So, on the chance that its a defect in workmanship rather than a material issue, I thought I would give it another shot.

update 9-11-10

Monday, July 12, 2010

Trail Meister Hiking Boots

None of my shoes fit anymore. I had purchased some cheap Chinese made jungle boots on the Internet that I really like but they are the only pair of shoes that fit me that I own besides a cheap pair of canvas shoes I bought at WalMart for working in the yard and my steel toed boots. For some reason it is very hard to find 13W shoes around here that have any ankle support. The boots I bought off the Internet are a cheap copy of USGI jungle boots. Very comfy once I got a pair of Dr Scholls insoles in them. I have been wearing them everyday all day since I had no other shoes that fit other than the yard shoes and the steel toed boots that are quite heavy and not especially comfortable. The Chinese jungle boots have taken the abuse quite well except oddly for the soles. The soles have worn down a lot in the 3 months or so I have been wearing them. I figured I need a new pair of shoes just to have something to wear in case they fail. I wonder if they are resolable? I really like them, as they have some good ankle support, but are also good summer boots. O well, I only paid about $40 for them shipped. Probably cost about that much to get the soles redone. I have had a couple of pairs of shoes resoled and was never all that happy with the results.

I went to Shoe Carnival which is where I usually get my shoes. They had nothing I wanted to wear in my size except work boots. So after we came home my wife called around to the various shoe places in town and found a pair of Columbia Trail Meisters at Famous Footwear. I went there and tried them on and they seemed to fit pretty good and seemed comfy. They come with a set of insoles so no need to buy any. I was not overjoyed with the color (I like black shoes), but the brown green gray color was all they had, and even though they seemed a bit pricey I decided to buy them. I wore them out of the store and have had them on ever since except when I was not wearing shoes at all. They made several two mile dog walks and I had no issues. Did not really need any break in period at all. They are called a mid high shoe. I have worn these type in the past and ended up with blisters on my Achilles tendon area from where the top of the shoes rubs, but these did not do that to me.

I was pretty sure I could have gotten them cheaper off the Internet, as Columbia is not usually as high priced a brand as some other hiking shoes. I paid just under $80 for them OTD. I thought I could probably have gotten them for $15 or $20 less off the Internet, but I just got them anyway. As it turned out, I did some looking around the Internet and I found Cabelas had them on clearance but nothing even remotely close to my size, and the other places I found them they would have been about the same or even more more with shipping. So, I guess I came out OK on the deal.

The box they came in claims they are waterproof, which I believe, and breathable. I don't believe the breathable part so much. The jungle boots breath quite well. These don't breath nearly as well as the cheap boots did, and my feet get a bit sweaty.

They came with some foamy type insoles which are pretty comfy. I don't know how well they will hold up to my weight which is pretty substantial, or the type of walking I do, which is mostly on pavement. Perhaps I will do an update in a few months.

Blog update

Not that I have all that many comments to worry about, but due to some spam comments I have been getting I have implemented comment moderation for posts over 14 days old and also turned on the feature requiring the commenter to enter a code. Hopefully this will deter the spammers.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

HD Vision Sunglasses

A month or two ago, I bought a pair of HD Vision sunglasses, as seen on TV, from my local CVS for about $10. I am not sure if there are different models available, or maybe there are slightly different brand names involved, but the pair I got is not exactly the pair I have seen advertised, as no way they would fit over a pair of regular glasses as advertised. I think these are called HD Vision Ultras, based on comparing them to the pictures I see on various websites.

As plastic sunglasses go, they are OK. I don't think that they are 3 and a third times better than the $3 plastic sunglasses I already had. They do seem a little brighter, but it might be that is because they are not quite as dark as my other pair of plastic sunglasses.

Based on using them nearly everyday, mostly driving back and forth to work, I can't recommend them as being superior to other plastic sunglasses, but they are OK, if somewhat expensive, as plastic sunglasses go.


[update 7-18-10]

I have to rate them a fail. The plastic frame around one of the lenses failed. Maybe I can get my money back from CVS.

[update 7/22/10]
My wife took them back to CVS and they exchanged them for a new pair of the same thing. Try again I guess.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Review of Dual Survival

I finally got around to watching an episode that I had DVR'd. I am not sure if the episode I watched was the first one or not (it was staged as a shipwreck on a snowy and cold island). I was not sure I would like it. Most things on the Discovery channel seem so scripted these days to the point they are no longer reality. Or maybe people just act that way around cameras.

This one had a little of that feel to it, but not as much as I thought it would before I watched it. It is TV after all and the numb nuts that run these things can always find a way to screw up a good idea.

Dave Canterbury was not quite the self assured person that I have grown to enjoy through his Youtube videos. Perhaps he is just a hair camera shy. But he did OK.

Cody Lundin was a big surprise to me. Dave called him a "Bush Hippie" once or twice. The writer that came up with that moniker ought to get an award. I did not think a whole lot of him before watching the show. And when he took his shoes off and wandered around in the snow bare foot and wearing shorts, I thought maybe he was nuts, but other than that he seemed to have solid ideas, and overall I was impressed with him. And the bare feet and shorts did not seem to harm him anyway.

Canterbury hammed up the cold a lot, making a big show of shivering, even though it was only 30 some degrees and he was dressed appropriately for the temperature. They also had Dave run off in the dark with a makeshift torch on a wild goose chase to check some traps. I doubt he would be dumb enough to do that except for it being a TV show.

I was impressed that TDC allowed Dave to kill, skin, cook, and eat a porcupine on TV. They did not show all the gory details, but they showed enough of them.

It's good enough I will probably watch it some more.