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Who is the Supervisor Around Here Anyway?

One Guy Working, Nine Watching  Photo Credit: Simeon Sieonov, @simeons

One Guy Working, Nine Watching
Photo Credit: Simeon Sieonov, @simeons

I hear some form of this question every day in the office, so let’s address it!

“How come you never seem to address the area on my body that hurts?”

“How come I point and you ignore me?”

“It hurts right here!” (Not a question of course but a common expression.) What I think I really hear is, “Dr Swaim, would you please pay attention!”

Well let me say from the outset that I AM paying attention. But most of the time I am paying attention to something other than what you would think I am. I’m not ignoring you, really, I ‘m just ignoring your pain.

“Why?” you might ask, “I thought that is why I am here!”

Yes and No.

Let me paint a picture here for you:

Have you ever driven by a road construction site and seen a bunch of guys leaning on shovels? Me too. You wonder what the heck is going on. And then you notice one lone digger in the hole working his tail off trying to make the whole thing work, whatever the thing is. One man working, many men watching. You get the picture. My take is that the guy in the hole, doing the work, is getting annoyed that he is carrying the load. So he says to the other workers “Hey you boys, how about some help?” They ignore him, keep chatting, and enjoy the hourly wage. Leaning on a shovel can be tough you know! The day goes on, the man in the hole is past being annoyed and now he is downright angry. So what does he do? He starts screaming! Screaming for help! “Somebody please help share the load!” Who is the supervisor? At last the brains of the operation, the supervisor, comes over, throws cold water on the man in the hole and says “Hey, pipe down, cool off and keep working”.

Can you believe it? Me neither.

But in many respects that is exactly how we treat pain in our lives. We just try and keep the pain quiet.

Do you see the foolery in this?

My guess is that the supervisor will actually come and kick some tails of the shovel leaning crowd and put them to work sharing the load. My guess is also that the man in the hole will indeed quiet down and indeed cool off. He is not doing all the work anymore.

Chiropractic is enlisting the supervisor, YOUR BRAIN, to get other things working in your body that might not be sharing the load. The pain you are experiencing is indeed real, but the truth is, the problem typically lies elsewhere in your system. My job is to enlist your brain in identifying the non-working, non-load sharing parts of your nervous system and get them going, so the man in the hole does not explode!

Yes it is true there are faster ways to get the screaming man to quiet down, like putting tape over his mouth. That is largely the approach of medicine. Mask the scream. If we can’t hear him scream, then what is the problem?

The problem is the men leaning on the shovels. Let’s get them moving.

So if you feel like I am ignoring your repeated reminders of where it hurts, you are probably right. I am looking to find out who is not helping and wake them up. They are the real problem. Not the man in the hole.



6 Join the Conversation

  1. Vickie Kuhns says
    Nov 15, 2018 at 9:45 PM

    And you do that so well. I know I have said that to you before, but you always hit the right spot and poof the pain/discomfort is gone. My back loves you for the good work you do on it.

    • says
      Nov 15, 2018 at 2:50 PM

      Thank you Vickie, you deserve me:) Cheers to you and Rick too!

  2. MaryKate DeBoer says
    Nov 16, 2018 at 3:21 AM

    I trust your judgment and the good work you're doing shows every time I have a nagging pain and you shut it down! I appreciate the time you take to make me feel better no matter how you do it and I do still remember you giving this same explanation when I first came in three years ago! “Listen, if your low back hurts, I may not adjust any part of your lower back, but it WILL feel better!” Haha thanks Doc!

    • says
      Nov 16, 2018 at 10:47 AM

      You got it down MaryKate! Keep up the good work of taking care of yourself!

  3. JudyLynn Solberg says
    Nov 17, 2018 at 1:01 AM

    Awesome analogy and reminder. I know you have mentioned this to me before! Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • says
      Nov 19, 2018 at 2:08 PM

      You keep up the good work, JudyLynn. We are so happy for you and our prayers will continue as you recover.

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