Bastille Day, the Sistene Chapel and Chiropractic Birthdays

15 years ago today, I became a chiropractor. It’s amazing to me that it has already been that long and I am humbled to think about all it has brought me.

From practicing in Costa Rica for a year, to opening a practice with my brother in San Diego.

From adjusting babies just minutes after they are born to help them start off life healthy, to adjusting men and women in the last days of their life to help ease their transition.

From meeting the woman who would years later become the mother of my child, to now working in a prenatal wellness center because of my son.

I can trace all of these incredible life experiences to me becoming (and being) a chiropractor.

I wrote this piece about how I celebrated my 10th chiropractic anniversary years ago. I wanted to share it here again because it helps explain the deep gratitude and honor I feel about being privileged to work with people the way I do.

While I might not be celebrating in Rome like I did 5 years ago, it will still be a celebration!

Originally published on July 14, 2011 on www.BeingWellLifestyles.com

July 14th is Bastille Day. It’s France’s version of our Fourth of July. Honestly, all that really had meant to me over the years is that a bunch of French cyclists will try to break away from the peloton to get some camera time for their sponsors while their country (and me) watches the Tour de France today.

But now July 14th has another meaning to me: it’s my anniversary. It’s the anniversary of the day I became a chiropractor.

Now, some of my mentors contend that I became I chiropractor the day I started chiropractic school. I know what they mean by that and I agree with them to some extent.

But July 14, 2000 is the date on my professional license for the state of California (the only state I’ve ever practiced in) so that’s the anniversary I go by.

Today marks my 11th year of being a chiropractor – something I’m very proud of. Tonight I’ll probably celebrate in my usual way of making a number of toasts: to my profession, to what I’ve accomplished so far, to who I am today and to what I am becoming as a doctor, a healer and a professional. That’s a lot of toasts I know, but hey, I have a lot to celebrate!

But on Bastille Day a year ago, on my 10th anniversary, I found myself in Rome, Italy staring up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

For so many years, Michelangelo’s classic image of God reaching out to touch Adam’s finger has been a symbol to me of the work I do as a healer. And there I was, gazing up, standing directly underneath it, pondering all of it’s meaning to me on my 10th anniversary of becoming a chiropractor.

Early on in my career, while I was still a student actually, a doctor I was training with had shown me this image of Michelangelo’s to impress upon me the significance of what we do as chiropractors.

His message to me was that by placing our hands on people and delivering adjustments, we are restoring life to the people we work on, not unlike Michelangelo’s depiction of God giving life to Adam.

Now, from that story I don’t carry around a “God complex” or anything like that. I’ll leave that to other types of doctors.

But I’ve always loved that analogy. So now it serves as a reminder to me to stay in a reverent space when I have my hands on people. Powerful forces are in play when someone allows me to work on them and it’s important to me to be respectful in that space with them.

But it wasn’t until the morning of July 14, 2010 as I was walking into Vatican City that I realized I’d be seeing the real image with my own two eyeballs on my chiropractic anniversary.

I was raised Roman Catholic so as a kid I saw plenty pictures of the Pope on his balcony waving to the people in St. Peter’s Square (when he wasn’t cruising around in his Pope Mobile, that is). We learned about the Vatican City and how one of the statues in our church was a replica of the Pieta inside St. Peter’s Basilica. We also learned about the “Sixteenth Chapel” and Michelangelo’s famous ceiling painting and I remember my small curious mind wondering if he painted the ceilings of the other 15 chapels too.

It was over 100 degrees in Rome that day (or however many degrees Celsius that is) but that didn’t melt my excitement as I slowly moved along the long, sickeningly hot hallways to get inside the church. The room was much smaller than I expected but the painted ceiling was much bigger and much more beautiful than I imagined.

I wiggled through the mass of people (pun intended) to get myself directly under God and Adam’s fingers coming together. And there I stood for a good 10 minutes staring straight up at it, taking it all in.

It was so impressive and I stood there smiling ear to ear as I looked up.

I would have stayed to bask in it’s glow for even longer were it not for 2 reasons:

1) chiropractically, my neck was killing me arching my head upwards for so long

and

2) thermally, I thought I was going to burst into flame if I didn’t get outside soon. (And no, I didn’t think I was going to burst into flame because of any “sinner in a church” thing. It was well over 100 degrees in a small room with hundreds of other people all jockeying for positioning to get a good look at Michelangelo’s handywork.)

Unfortunately, one wrong turn leaving the Sistine Chapel changed the vibe for the next few hours. That part of the story isn’t relevant to this one so suffice it to say that later, at dinner recounting the day, the meaning of seeing Michelangelo’s masterpiece in person really sunk in for me.

How cool it was  to be able to travel to Rome, to be in the Sistine Chapel, to see Michelangelo’s work of art with my own eyes AND on my 10th anniversary.

What an amazing gift chiropractic is and how fortunate I am to be able to give this gift to people.

How wonderful it is that people come into see me for help, they trust their body and their health to me and I am able to deliver hope and care when they most need it.

How special a life I lead that my work environment is full of candles, water fountains, peaceful music, and one where people are happy to see me when they come in and they get to feel even better when they leave.

I am so grateful!

I appreciate every single one of you who trust me with your body and with your health. I consider it an honor to work with you and I want you to know that I take it very seriously. I want only the best for you and I am happy to do all I can for that to come to you. That day a year ago today, was truly a spectacular day for me and obviously, I look upon it fondly.

And a year ago tonight, I toasted the same things that I’ll toast tonight: my profession, what I’ve done, who I am now and who I am becoming.

Cheers! Salute! Salud! and A Votre Sante!

P.S. The day before this day in the Sistine Chapel, I was in Florence with my jaw on the floor standing in front of Michelangelo’s David. This is another work that has tremendous significance to me as a chiropractor. Maybe someday I’ll share that story with you too…

About the Author

Dr. Jay Warren has been a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor for 17 years. He is also the Wellness Care Coordinator at the CAP Wellness Center in San Diego, CA where 90% of his practice is pregnant or postpartum women and babies under one year old. Dr. Jay is a proud member of the ICPA and APPPAH (the Association or Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health) and the host of the podcast “Healthy Births, Happy Babies” in iTunes. His online program, “Connecting with Baby” guides pregnant women through processes to strengthen maternal bonding for a happier pregnancy, gentler birth and easier post-partum experience. Dr. Jay is also the proud father of his 3 year old son, Niko who keeps him very busy (and happy) outside of the office.