Dr Chris Davis — The spinal mechanic
BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor -- publications firstname.lastname@example.org
IT may have been fate or sheer luck. Either way, Chris Davis survived a nasty motor vehicle spill 25 years ago and is today helping people through his chiropractic practice.
Interestingly, Dr Davis -- an American who now works with Dr Michael Harvey's Chiropractic Centres -- wasn't planning on pursuing a career in his current field.
"I wouldn't say it's a mistake, but I wasn't planning it. I was actually planning on doing pre-medical or something in the orthodontic field -- something in the health field, but I wasn't quite sure," Dr Davis told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview at his office inside the just-renovated Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa on Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston.
The event leading to his eventual decision leaves you wide-eyed and O-mouthed.
In 1988, a week after graduating from high school, an 18-year-old Davis got a motor vehicle ride from an acquaintance in Houston, Texas.
"The last thing I recall was telling the driver to slow down," he explained. That's just before the vehicle flipped.
"According to someone witnessing it from their front porch, the vehicle went off the road into a ditch; we flipped over and over, three times.
"On the third rotation we were both ejected. We broke through the side windows," he said. "I landed pretty much upright, head first. At the time we didn't know we had injuries because I was completely out of it, adrenaline was just flowing.
"They said I was walking around looking for my shoe. At that point it took, I think, three paramedics and a sheriff's deputy to subdue me because I had so much adrenaline. They didn't believe I was injured because I was up walking around and I was, I guess, being resistant to them trying to calm me down.
"So they put a hard collar around my neck and finally got me seated in the ambulance. Of course, they said I later took the collar off, came back out and continued looking for my shoe," Dr Davis related.
Both men were taken to hospital with severe injuries. Davis had a crushed thoracic vertebrae, broken ribs, contusion and a bit of concussion.
"I ended up being in a back brace for six months," he said.
During that time, his best friend's father -- an insurance adjustor -- visited Davis and informed him that he would be receiving a settlement.
"I wasn't even thinking that," Dr Davis admitted. "I still wasn't even coherent, but they said there was going to be a liability for the driver's insurance, for causing this accident."
The insurance process started, but Davis was still wearing the back brace and unable to work.
On his attorney's recommendation that he go see a chiropractor, Davis found himself at the office of Dr Randy Northcutt, whom he described as "a wonderful chiropractor".
Several weeks into the treatment, Davis started his pre-medical studies at junior college.
He had a habit of studying in Dr Northcutt's lobby while awaiting his appointment. The young man's enthusiasm did not go unnoticed and eventually Dr Northcutt asked him about his plans.
"I told him I wanted to do something pre-medical and he said 'why don't you become a chiropractor'," Davis related. "At that time I thought is was kinda funny. I just laughed like it was a joke and I said 'yeah, whatever' and went about my business."
After completing his treatment, Davis entered the University of Texas, still unsure of what he wanted to do. Then, three years into his studies it dawned on him to look seriously at Northcutt's suggestion.
So, he visited Northcutt, reminded him of the advice and asked him for a referral letter.
"He didn't hesitate, and immediately wrote me a referral letter to Parker College of Chiropractic and I matriculated that summer," Davis said.
"It was a gruelling thing -- a four-year programme condensed into three calendar years; it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but when I came out I was very, very satisfied and I was ready to help people. It's the best way that I can help people... and still make a comfortable living," he said.
Since completing his studies and receiving his chiropractic degree in 1999, Dr Davis has practised in the USA, Peru and Indonesia. But he fell in love with the Caribbean after vacationing in The Bahamas in 2000 and developed a burning desire to live in this region.
Finally, last year he got the perfect opportunity when Dr Harvey advertised for a chiropractor to help him expand his practice in Jamaica.
After convincing Dr Harvey that he had the requisite skills and qualifications, Dr Davis and his family moved here and today, of Dr Harvey's five locations, Davis provides a service at four -- Kingston, May Pen, Portmore, and Mandeville.
The expertise of his 15 years of practice is easily seen when he treats patients.
Emma Subraite, assistant manager of the Eden Gardens Spa, speaks glowingly of him. "I had a terrible pain in my neck for a long time from carrying luggage and sleeping on beds that I was not accustomed to when I travelled overseas. Eventually, one day I just decided that I could not bear this anymore. I came and saw Dr Davis, he gave me an adjustment and I started feeling better," she said.
Another of Davis' patients, who gave her name only as Ann, was unable to lift or extend her left hand a few weeks ago.
After her first two adjustments, and with lots of ice treatment, she is smiling today.
"When someone comes back after the first adjustment and says the pain is gone, that's wonderful, we expect that, because that is one of the reactions," Davis said.
"However, we have to explain to them that it's a process -- that we need to stabilise that area and keep it that way. It's called preventative maintenance, rather than chasing the symptoms, because the symptoms are not the problem, symptoms are indicators to the problem.
"As chiropractors we try to address the core problem, so that the body heals itself as it is meant to be, but if there is interference in that system, then you're going to continue to have symptoms," he explained.
Asked to share the most severe case he has ever had to deal with, Davis said "it's a difficult question only because I see so many different cases".
"I have wheelchair patients, I have paraplegics, I have people that the degeneration is so advanced and so bad they could not stand up, and I'm not talking about a little bit, I'm talking about almost a 90 degree bend at the waist," he said.
"When someone carries someone into the office -- and I've seen this here, I've seen it in Peru -- and they walk out after a chiropractic adjustment that just completely reaffirms my choice to become a chiropractor and to help people," he said.
He made reference to an elderly lady in May Pen who, when she first came to see him, was unable to stand upright. Now, that has changed.
He also pointed to two wheelchair patients of his who are now occasionally using walkers. However, Dr Davis cautions that while the chiropractic treatment has contributed to that, it is really the patients' bodies and God at work.
"I'm an instrument, kinda like a spinal mechanic," he said. "I find the misalignments and I correct them and then all the credit is given to the body. So a lot of people say you did this or you did that; no. There's not a man on this earth, that I know of, that can cure somebody on the spot; the body does that; the Creator does that, but the interference that we run into, that's where I come in and I'm merely a vessel.
"It does give me joy, though, to see people improve," he added.