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  • Writer's pictureJeff Cowley, DC

Adventures At Sea

You Never Know What You’re Going to Get

As a chiropractor, you get used to hearing some wild stories. One minute you're adjusting a sprained wrist from an ill-advised attempt at backyard gymnastics, and the next, you're listening to the tale of a man who survived a shipwreck in the North Atlantic. Yes, that's right. A shipwreck. Meet James, a man whose back pain had a backstory that could rival any action movie plot.

James strolled into my office one afternoon, hobbling slightly and clutching his lower back like it was the plot of a badly written mystery novel. His eyes had the look of someone who had seen things you wouldn’t believe. Naturally, I asked what had happened.

“Well,” James began, settling into the chair gingerly, “I used to be an office administrator.” He paused, as if this was the setup to a joke. “But I decided it was time for a career change.”

Now, some men in their midlife buy flashy sports cars or develop an inexplicable interest in extreme sports. Not James. No, he went back to school and, with no previous seafaring experience, became a fisheries inspector. Because why not?

His new job involved heading out on fishing and lobster boats to ensure the crews were following all the necessary safety regulations. “Fishing is one of the most dangerous professions,” James noted, and I could already sense the understatement of the century approaching.

On his first day on the job, James boarded a boat out of the south coast. He was diligently watching the crew, checking the logs, testing all the safety gear when, suddenly, the boat started to list heavily. James recounted, “Out of the blue, it just started going over.”

This is where things got interesting. Picture it: James, miles out on the water, unable to see the shore, with the boat sinking faster than a sunset. The crew was scrambling, the skipper was frantically barking codes into the radio, and James was helplessly watching the boat roll.

“It was surprising how fast it happened,” James said. And before he knew it, a stabilizer boom clocked him from behind, sending him flying overboard into the frigid North Atlantic water. Yes, you heard that right. First day on the job, and he's already practicing his Olympic diving skills.

When James surfaced, he watched the boat, his hopes, and probably a few lunch plans, disappear beneath the waves. There he was, floating miles from shore in winter, in the North Atlantic. Thankfully, he was wearing a survival suit, which kept him afloat and, more importantly, alive.

The boat had sunk so quickly that the captain couldn't finish his distress call. It took about 20 minutes for the rescue to arrive, which, according to James, felt like an eternity. “As I stepped from the rescue helicopter, I shivered from hypothermia,” James said. “I was treated for exposure, and it was then I first noticed the pain in my back.”

By the time he made it home, he was in agony. Which is how he ended up in my office, with a strain likely due to the body check from the boom. After a few weeks of adjustments, he was back on his feet, but he never returned to his new job. Can't say I blame him.

So there you have it. Chiropractic may not be able to stop your boat from sinking, but it can help keep you afloat when life throws you overboard. And always remember, when someone walks into your office with a story to tell, brace yourself—you never know what you’re going to get.





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