How Harvey regained his hearing

July 1, 1993

This is a story of an entrepreneur, a man of the 19th century who worked hard for a living with his cleaning business. He was deaf, of course. He had lost his hearing 17 years before the incredible day that changed the world. It was while lifting some heavy things that he heard a “crack” in his back. Then he became deaf. Was that all there was to his story?

While working in the building of a doctor, he decided to ask if the doctor could help him. This doctor checked him out and found something that didn’t look right. There was a part of Harvey’s backbone that wasn’t in the right place, so he put it back in place with a sturdy thrust. Then Harvey said, “I could suddenly hear the wagons on the cobblestones outside.” But there’s more to this story.

The doctor thought he had found the best cure for deafness, so he went out and found another deaf man. He worked on him for some time, to no avail. When he decided to dismiss him as a patient, the deaf man begged him not to send him away, saying, “Since you have been working with me, my heart palpitations have ceased.”

I wish I could have been there to see the puzzled look on the doctor’s face. It seems at that time, everyone was looking for and claiming a cure for any number of diseases, including cancer. It was the natural thing to do, since we tend to think something is wrong only when there is an identifiable disease to look at. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the common phrase. This doctor, however, was the first one to begin thinking that there was something else wrong, that it had to do with the spine, and when it was wrong, perhaps other unpredictable things would go wrong. Who was this man and what did he figure out?

The man’s name was Palmer, and he was the first chiropractor. Chiropractors work with the nervous system to make sure it runs right. As Palmer noticed in 1895, the nervous system runs all the functions of the body, and if it isn’t working right, anything can go wrong. Chiropractic is not medicine, and it is not alternative medicine. It works with a different topic altogether. It works with the nervous system and studies its interaction with the skeletal framework. When the chiropractor finds a measurable problem in the nervous system, he/she tracks it down to the area of bony interference and makes an adjustment. It is like moving the furniture out of the way so you can walk through the living room without stumbling. When the nerve signals can move easily to their targets—literally every cell in the body, we have an efficient system. But there’s more…

You’ve probably heard about the tensions between the medical profession and chiropractic. Well, that’s mostly past tense now. There is too much in the world for any one person to know, and all kinds of health care professionals are realizing that they need to work in cooperation so that people can enjoy the best of health. Even hospitals are realizing that they are denying appropriate care to people by not having chiropractors on staff. That’s why some oncologists and medical doctors are now sending their patients to chiropractors for specialized, not alternative, care. So how did Harvey regain his hearing?

The better question is, “Why did Harvey lose his hearing?” That’s where I’ll leave you for now, but I’ll be sure to pick up the topic next time.

Dr. Schalow is the director of 1st Step Chiropractic, S.C., Rockford’s first NUCCA chiropractic center.

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