Completely and totally stuck. Or, at least so it seemed at that moment.
At that moment in time, I was sitting in the cab of my 4-wheel drive, 1990 Ford ranger pickup truck that had become bogged down in the 30 inches of snow that had been dumped on the ground as part of what the people who live on the Eastern part of the United States quaintly refer to as a “Northeaster”. This particular example had come out of nowhere to make a mess of things in the middle of the Delmarva Peninsula in short order; it had only taken half of the afternoon to accumulate and the winds had arrived to cause the drifts.
Some other considerations of my present state of non-mobility: it was 2:17 am, there was no one living within a mile of the truck’s location, and I had a plane to Nicaragua to catch in a few hours.
There are, I suppose several shades of difference in being stuck. Thankfully, I was not stuck to the degree that a bug is stuck in a chunk of fossilized Amber, but rather to the degree that a cork is stuck in the top of a wine bottle. I put the truck in its best “pulling tree stumps out of the ground”- mode and commenced the scary process of getting myself out of the 350 foot long snow drift. Which is a process whereby forward progress is made slowly and carefully: one backs up into the tire tracks that have already been made 5 or 6 feet and then plows forward into the drift. The momentum of this forward plow will gain a distance of 2 feet, or possibly as much as 5 precious feet of space. And one continues to repeat this same process until such time as one is eventually through the drift, and in a position to continue the rest of the trip to the airport. A trip, I should note that took 5 hours to travel a distance that usually is finished in less that 2 hours.
THEN: at Baltimore-Washington Airport (a facility that was at one time named “Friendship Airport”, but was eventually changed to reflect it’s international status, and to make it possible for a 3 letter code to fit on the baggage claim tags. [BWI] Too bad), I arrive to find that the airport is snowed-in, and that all flights are very much delayed owing to too much snow, no equipment, and airline employee short-handedness. The flight to Miami that my group is to take is eventually boarded several hours past its scheduled time of departure. The plane taxis across the tarmac to its take-off position. The plane increases speed. The plane’s nose begins to slightly rise. The pilot then throttles back the engine. The plane slows down. The plane returns to the terminal. It seems that this particular take off needed to be aborted; as part of the de-icing procedure, pieces of duct tape are applied to the aircraft by the ground crew as a sort of reminder that this, that, and various parts of each aircraft have been properly de-iced. The ground crew had unfortunately forgotten to remove a key piece of tape near the intake of the engine and this piece of tape was reacting to the increased wind pressure of take off and was in peril of peeling away and flying directly into the churning turbines of the starboard engine! Doesn’t exactly make for a smooth, uneventful take off.
EVENTUALLY: the piece of tape was removed. The flight landed in Miami. 4 hours past the connection that we needed to make to continue on to Managua, Nicaragua. The storm had the effect of slowing the entirety of airline service throughout the country and our aircraft was still waiting for us on the other end of the Miami airport.
COMMUNICATION: Nichi nichi kore ko nichi: Every day is a beautiful day
WHY: I had willingly endured through all of this winter fun to take part in a mission trip to Nicaragua, which had been arranged by Angel Nunez Ministries. This is an organization that is located in Baltimore, Maryland that makes various Christian missionary trips throughout the world. In fact, this was the second time that I had gone on a trip with them to Nicaragua as the sole chiropractor. I was to go with this group to provide chiropractic adjustments to the people that were to attend the revival meetings of the group in a church located in Managua, the Capitol City.
Our group was met at the airport and taken to the home of Guillermo Osornos. Mr. Osornos is a very gracious host as well as the titular head of one of the 3 political parties currently in Nicaragua. His home is a compound that is surrounded by 14-foot tall masonry walls topped with shards of broken glass to discourage unwanted intruders. We were met at the gate by a guard that was equipped with a fully automatic AK-47 sub machine gun. Again, too many potential intruders. The place is laid-out somewhat like a small motel: there were about 15 rooms whose purpose is to house the many visitors to the Osornos’ home, a staff of at least 17, including cooks, housekeepers, groundskeepers and various other functionaries that comprise the noblisse oblige of every Latin American majordomo. But, the beds were comfortable, the pool was warm, and the food was quite good, so the Kalishnakov Automat 47 was hardly any kind of bother. The perpetually cold showers weren’t so bad either.
Our 5 days of the mission itself consisted of driving 30 minutes to a large church with a thin roof located in the middle of Managua. On our arrival at the church in the morning, it would invariably be filled with 400 to 500 people who were there to attend the services of the missionaries. I would set-up my “office” at the entrance of the church. In this case, my office consisted of 6 or 7 rickety wooden folding chairs that I had good-naturedly purloined from the inside of the church. Ushers would then pass among the pews of the church directing the worshippers to step outside to receive their seated upper-cervical adjustments. I would then have the privilege of adjusting all comers until everyone in the church had been adjusted.
A SEEMINGLY UNRELATED PARABLE WITH AN IMBEDDED, INDIRECT METAPHOR REGARDING CHIROPRACTIC TECHNIQUE:
One afternoon in the early 70s, I had the happy occasion to attend as a spectator a master class for guitarists being given by the late Andres Segovia, as part of a concert tour that he was then taking throughout the United States. The class was proceeding badly for all the performing students as well as the Master; the students were attempting to incorporate into the pieces that they were playing the methods that Segovia was teaching them with little to no success. The tone just wasn’t coming out properly no matter how hard the students were trying. This was visibly discouraging to Segovia. He was eventually rattled to the point where he sought momentary refuge and a glass of water at a table located upstage where Mrs. Segovia was seated. The stage crew had neglected to turn off the wireless lavaliere microphone that they had attached to Segovia. As he spoke to his wife, the entire audience heard him say: “Que lastima! Que todos tienen MANOS DURAS!” (“What a shame! They all have such HARD HANDS!”)
What if I now ask a bunch of questions?
Will that make things clear?
What is an adjustment?
What is a subluxation?
Is a subluxation that is located in the spine of someone that is seated in a chair outside of a church in Nicaragua any different than a subluxation located in the spine of someone laying on an adjustment table in a chiropractor’s office in the United States?
Is what’s clear to me clear to you?
People aren’t subluxations, are they?
Are people who have just been adjusted starting to become subluxated again?
If I don’t hear an audible release, have I done an adjustment?
Which is more necessary, adjusting the spine of a politician or adjusting the spine of a newborn?
Is the tone that is produced by a guitarist with “hard hands” any more or less stifled than the effect of an adjustment that is performed by a chiropractor with “hard hands”?
Is there such a thing as silence?
If you were to perform complete physical exams on all of your patients, would you adjust them any differently than you would if you didn’t?
Is this the 14th question?
Do I have 2 more questions?
And, now, do I have none?
Now that I’ve asked 16 questions, can I ask more?
I can, but may I?
Why must I go on asking questions?
Is there any point in asking why?
Are there rules about how to adjust people properly?
If there are rules, who made them?
Are we getting anywhere asking questions?
Is it possible that I could go on monotonously asking questions forever?
If we didn’t adjust people, what would we have?
If we adjusted all people what would we have?
Have we got a religion?
Do we have a mythology?
Would we know what to do if we had one?
Have we got a way to make money?
And if money is made, what will we spend it on?
How long will we be able to be alive?
When I was much younger, my parents would tell me that when I was older I would understand nearly everything. Now that I’m fifty, I understand nearly nothing.
My patients in Nicaragua were a mixed lot. Young to old, healthy to infirm, mothers suckling their babies that they would hold as I adjusted them, people on crutches that would wander over in curiosity from the bus stop in front of the church, ministers, members of the group that I was traveling with, announcers from the local radio station who were at the church to cover the meetings for their listeners, a welder that momentarily stopped his repair of the axle of a horse-drawn wagon, shoe cobblers at their benches in open air markets, and a seemingly endless procession of people with deep, beautiful brown eyes.
One of the people who were seated in my chair to be adjusted was an elderly, dignified gentleman that was dressed in a threadbare suit. This was a very unusual thing to see in the 90-degree weather of Managua and the man was sweating profusely in the heat of the sun. I asked him if he would like to remove his jacket while he got adjusted. He declined my offer by explaining that he felt that both going to church and being seen by a doctor were somewhat formal occasions that it was best to dress-up to attend. When I insisted, he sheepishly told me that he preferred to keep his jacket on due to the fact that the back of his shirt had a hole in it. I said, “Well, I have a hole in my sock, and, if you like, I’ll take my shoes off.”
In the full richness of time, our morning sessions at the church would draw to a close and we would return to the comforts of Casa Osornos to get out of the heat, take a cold shower and rest for a little while before our return to the church later that same evening. A new group of people was by then in place. Different faces but more numerous than the morning. As they would file into the church to hear the Word, they would all receive their adjustments.
Stuck, no more.
For more information on chiropractic mission worldwide, visit CREW.
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