When I went off to college things were a bit iffy. High School had been a difficult experience. It allowed me to swim and play sports and get together with friends, but I didn’t get much out of the whole learning part. A ‘C’ average doesn’t get you into many colleges, but West Virginia decided that if you could graduate from a West Virginia High School then – by-golly – you should be able to put your money down and try your hand in a State College.
During freshman orientation my new college dean sat me down and looked at my transcript. He was obviously one of those glass-half-full types and said, “Pope, from the looks of your last two years in high school it appears you’re a late bloomer.” He obviously suspected that my future at college looked pretty iffy too. But he smiled and took a look at the courses I’d picked out for my first semester of college and frowned. Then he and told me, “Let’s hold off on this biology class…it’s a killer. Yep, you should take a lighter load. That way you can get use to college life.” He reached across the desk, shook my hand and said, “Hope to see you ‘round campus, Good luck.”
I knew this college was where I wanted to be and I was eager to work hard. I was confident I could handle the full load, so I did take that biology class. Guess even then I had a problem with authority.
I also had a problem with my health. A problem that was so bad it would get in the way of my higher education from day one.
Throughout the spring of my senior year of high school I worked weekends as a raft guide on the Youghiogheny River. Each day we’d inflate large stacks of four person whitewater rafts, tip them upside-down and slide then over the rails of the large truck that transported them. One by one they would be slid onto the waiting shoulders of the next available guide. These rafts weighed about 120 pounds and we got very good at balancing them on our necks and shoulder’s. We were often described as looking like two legged turtles heading down the path to the river’s edge.
One of my co-workers, a particularly muscular guy, decided it would be fun to launch the raft over the side of the truck instead of the controlled slide that was usual. I happened to be the one waiting to receive it. The full 120 pounds of the raft landed against my unsuspecting head. The force fully flexed my head forward. There was noise, there was pain, and if you can imagine, there was even foul language uttered.
Fortunately I was 18 years old and virtually indestructible. The neck pain and the headaches… were gone by the next weekend. For a time, I totally forgot about the incident, at least until my third week of suffering through college. From the first day of classes I couldn’t sleep. I had insomnia and was lucky to get three hours of sleep at night. Usually during the day I’d take a nap with my face pressed into a text book.
Studying had never been easy for me, but without sleep, it was near impossible. Then the headaches came on. They made matters even worse, since they were the kind of headaches that got worse when you think. Things were bad and getting worse each day as the work piled up and I got further behind.
I tried pain killers, but they didn’t even take the edge off and tied my stomach in knots. Obviously I didn’t need one more symptom, so I stopped that. College life was in full swing so I went to a party and figured getting drunk might help. Not surprising, it just made things worse. I did learn that being passed out is not restful and in no way is equivalent to sleeping, and I learned that a bad headache can be made even worse with enough rum.
My higher education started out ‘iffy’ and now it was in crisis. I dropped an English course because it was clear I was going to fail and I needed to do it before it would affect my grade. It was a long lonely walk back to the dorm and I was in despair. I called my sister. Sometimes it’s just better to whine to a sibling than to your parents. That’s when she spoke two words that would change everything.
She even looked up a chiropractor close to my college and I went there the next day. The doctor listened to my problems and asked me if I had experienced any injury to my neck.
I responded, “No, I don’t think so.” Then I remembered the raft incident and asked her if that could be causing my headache and insomnia. She thought so, and gave me a very gentle chiropractic adjusted. Immediately the headache went away and never came back. I was so relieved; I couldn’t wait to get back for my second appointment. Within a week the insomnia was history too and I was sleeping normally.
Concentration returned, energy returned, my brain started to work as designed. By the end of my first semester, it was clear that my academic future was no longer…iffy. And that “killer” biology course became my favorite… I got a solid ‘A.’ Which was a good thing because by then I decided I wanted to be a science major and eventually go on to become a chiropractor.
If it wasn’t for two simple words a million things would be horribly different. “Try chiropractic” Please, speak those two words to your family, your friends and everyone you meet…It will change their life.