I’m sure like many of you, the urge to spring clean is in the air. I’ve been going through many of my notes and scraps of papers with scribbling of health related information. Different sizes, and colors of notepads and other stationary, bearing unique hotel logos acquired from years of attending seminars. These precious pieces of paper have a wealth of health information.
Like strolling down memory lane as I gaze upon a Sheraton hotel notepad acquired in Lake Oswego, OR., I can easily recall it was October 1985. It was my first official chiropractic related seminar and I remember smelling the aroma of Christmas trees everywhere. When you live in Houston, that kind of experience is memorable. While examining my file of collected papers, I experience a wave of attention toward the recorded technical data, and the associated feelings of who I perceived myself to be as a health care practitioner at that time.
Health care, whatever the discipline, is an art and science. And I believe the quality of the health care provided by a doctor, healer, shaman, or just a caring person, is not only determined by their knowledge and the techniques they deliver. But maybe more importantly, the totality of their presence and who they are being, when in service to their patient. Consider the following line from this Hippocratic oath:
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.
In my early years, it was all about the information. Remembering the right information to pass the college classes, the national board exams, the state board exams. Then utilizing the information clinically to hopefully serve as a silver bullet, magic bullet, the quick fix, the miracle cure, my ace in the hole for those really difficult patients.
Looking back at some of the notes reminded me of how exciting it was to learn things I would be able to utilize Monday morning with my first patient. These were clinical pearls you could not find just anywhere. You had to pay for them with your time and money. And there was no guarantee regarding their efficacy. That took practise in your practice. You could call it clinical research. Not a good way to run a profitable practice. You just can’t ethically charge the patient for that much time. At least I can’t.
Also, looking back at some of these notes shows me just how unattached I have become to this “precious” information. Much of this information we once clamored for have lost their luster. It is still great information, but not thought of as a treasure to be cherished. Many of these golden nuggets can now be found on the internet and are made available to everyone. But….here is the catch. It takes wisdom, accumulated over time, to be able to discriminate what information is useful and harmful. Here is a story to drive this point home.
Prior to becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic, I owned a sound system service and installation company. I always carried a beeper for those emergency calls from night clubs that needed immediate audio repairs. Often, my pager would alert me on a Saturday night, typically between 10pm and midnight. Night clubs were a very competitive business, constantly trying to allure the night life crowd. All these clubs offered was drinks, ambience, a dance floor, and loud music. Often times the DJ would announce that drinks would be 2 for 1 until the music gets fixed. That's how important the music was to their operation.
One evening I got a call from Gilley’s. You may remember Gilley’s from the Urban Cowboy movie with John Tavolta. I showed up, the place packed with dance goers standing around, beer in hand, waiting for the jams to start back up. No pressure. Within a matter of seconds I found a switch on a mixing board that needed to be turned back on. Just like that, the party was on.
When I presented my $75 bill to the manager he said, “I’m paying you $75 to flip a switch!?” I said, no, you are paying me $75 to know which switch to flip. The procedure, flipping a switch, was not complicated. Knowing what not to do is what made it seem like a simple fix. But it took years of background knowledge and experience to be able to quickly target that switch.
I’ve come to believe it is foolish to think information makes us smart. Honestly, information bores me. It slows down my essence and dulls my intuition. I don’t discount it’s importance, but I do not want it to discount the unknown. That’s where the magic happens.
I ask you, do you want to disconnect from all the data? More importantly, can you?
Our only hope is through stillness of mind and body.
With the diligent use of art and science, there is a way to bring the nervous system and metabolism into a greater degree of coherence.
You know how to reach me.
PS. Spring cleaning has been successful. I’ve thrown away lots of papers and attachments.