Spinal Universe – More Perpendicular Than Parallel

Welcome to the Spinal Universe! Let’s get one thing straight right at the start. This isn’t going to be one of those cerebral, let’s-contemplate-the-universe sort of blogs. It’s also not going to be stiff science and rigid research. It ought to be, perhaps, but after a quarter of a century of straightening cervicals, disentangling dorsals and loosening lumbars, it’s time to write about other stuff.

I’ve long held off writing a blog. Not just because I didn’t really know what one was, but because so many bloggers I saw were taking themselves a bit too seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I can have a serious side but this blog isn’t going to be the forum for showing any sort of underbelly (believe me, you don’t want to see mine). What I want this blog to provide is a light-hearted look at the world of a chiropractor and the adventures that global travel can bring.

For years I’ve lived in the Cotswolds. It is one of the those most picturesque corners of Britain that features on three-day coach trips, where enthusiastically-snapping American and Japanese tourists fill 50 gigabyte memory cards in under an hour and relentlessly cram themselves into tea rooms and souvenir emporiums.

Stroud is famed for being the home of tennis ball covering, green baize for snooker tables and the Stroudwater Scarlet of the uniforms of English soldiers past. It is also the birthplace of the lawn mower and has within its boundaries the site of the last fatal duel on English soil. Thomas the Tank Engine’s creator was a rector of a church in Stroud and Laurie Lee penned Cider with Rosie overlooking one of the five valleys into the middle of which Stroud proudly sits.

My universe has centred on Stroud, which along with Totnes boasts the honour of being one of the complementary and alternative metropolises of Great Britain. Here, you can spend weekends learning water divining, crystal therapy and past-life analysis. It has a Green mayor (not literally) and is the home of the massively-successful renewable energy company, Ecotricity. Its Conference football team, Forest Green Rovers (owned by Ecotricity’s founder, Dale Vince) banned meat pies in favour of veggie-burgers at half time and has floodlights powered by wind.

So, all in all, being a chiropractor in Stroud was decidedly orthodox. I wore a shirt (not linen) and tie (not hand-woven) and did not chant while I treated. We saw everyone from everywhere and it was this diversity that made me love my job and the people that made it possible. My twenty glorious years in Stroud saw a small, part-time clinic above a dentist grow to a busy multidisciplinary health facility right on the High Street. That doesn’t make me anything special – far from it – but the old maxim, ‘if you look after your patients, they’ll look after you’ certainly worked in this beautiful market town.

The word retirement always conjured up images of tweed, day centres and Eastbourne. Retiring from formal clinical practice was therefore not a straightforward decision. After all, chiropractic was, as I said, my universe and the thought of no longer treating patients in Gloucestershire was strange to say the least.

But every so often, life gifts you opportunities. With a move to Toronto just around the corner and a job that will take me to every corner of the globe. this was one opportunity I could never turn down. The umbilical cord to the Cotswolds will stay firmly attached and will pull me back regularly like a biological bungee, but 2015 will see my universe moving not just parallel, but perpendicular.

So it is that this blog must come about. I’ve never been a diarist, or a journal writer of any kind but when I’m old and can no longer remember where I’ve left my glasses, let alone where I’ve been, perhaps these words will jog my memory.

I hope you enjoy reading it as I shall undoubtedly enjoy writing it.