In later life, my father suffered badly from asthma. I went with him to what we both assumed was a competent osteopath. What ensued surprised us both.
My dad was thrown off an armoured car in the latter stages of WW2. His back and ribcage were never okay after that; and he used to make regular trips to see an osteopath. He always felt better afterwards.
When I was in my early twenties, I did something to my back as I tried to persuade a heifer calf to lie flat in the boot of a estate car. I went to see my dad’s osteopath shortly afterwards. It was a fearful experience, with grotesquely magnified clunks reverberating around inside me as he leaned his weight against my curled up body. However, there was no pain; and I particularly remember the subsequent night’s sleep being blissful; but as I stretched and clambered out of bed the following morning, there was an ominous click and my back relapsed.
As my dad got older, he succumbed to asthma. His original osteopath had died, so he sought out another. After a couple of false starts, he found a chiropractor he was happy with, who seemed to do both his back and his breathing amazing amounts of good.
Time passed. I was staying with my parents on the occasion of what turned out to be his last visit to the chiropractor; so I went along for the ride. I was encouraged to come into the consulting room; and was transfixed by what went on. My dad lay supine on a couch. The chiropractor took his head, made a few gentle looking adjustments, and then made one, very sudden, relatively violent twist.
There was a cry of anguish from my father, along with a rippling series of loud cracks from the area of his spine and ribs, as his body – fourteen stone, heavily built – rose from the couch, flailed helplessly, before landing on its back again. It reminded me of nothing so much as a rag doll being flipped through the air.
Almost immediately, my dad got up from the table and I could see at a glance how different he was. The entire right side of his body, which moments earlier had been taut, with his shoulder held several inches higher than on the left, was back in balance. I was astounded at the transformation; but I was also astonished that his neck hadn’t snapped during it.
I well remember my ambivalent feelings. I had been ‘working’ on my father during my visit – a fair number of three quarter hour sessions – but I had made virtually no impression; whereas this man, in less than five minutes, had effectively ‘cured’ him. Still, I would have had great difficulty not stepping in and stopping the proceedings – on strict safety grounds – if the chiropractor hadn’t signalled he had already done all he was going to do.
As it was, I was just drawing breath, when he came up to me, peering into my eyes. He announced himself as a consultant iridologist, and proclaimed after a brief scrutiny that I had a serious stomach problem that needed seeing to. He handed me his card, which I was further astonished to see claimed he was also an acupuncturist and a homeopath.
I mentioned my doubts to my father as we drove home; but I felt somewhat churlish doing so. Driving down for the appointment, his asthma had been so bad, we had kept conversation to a minimum. He had looked like a stuffed frog: hardly able to breath, rigid upper body. Furthermore, it was clear he was in pain. Now, he breathed like a baby, his eyes sparkled, and he appeared utterly relaxed.
He stayed well for several months, before the asthma gradually crept back up on him. He rang the chiropractor; but he had moved away from the area. He tried other practitioners, but none of them did him much good. Meanwhile, he sank ever increasing amounts of conventional asthma medication.
One night, his breathing became so bad, the doctor was called. He injected some adrenaline based drug that made my dad as high as a kite. His breathing improved no end; he became almost maniacally happy; but he died in his sleep that night.
Shortly after, my mum sent me a press cutting about the chiropractor. Apparently, several complaints had been received, not about his treatments but about what he had got up to with young children while alone with them in his consulting room. He was subsequently jailed; but what was particularly interesting was the emergence of the fact he had falsified virtually all his alleged qualifications!
Ten years on, I have no obvious signs of a stomach problem; but I remain eternally grateful to this ‘chiropractor? for giving my dad several new leases of life.
I’m not sure what the moral of this story is.