Taking Charge of Your Health

I grew up in South Africa as the
daughter of a very successful chiropractic father. He was good at what
he did, he was very successful, very well loved by his patients, and he certainly
could have just sat back in practice and said “this is as good as it’s going to
get” – but my dad was obsessed with learning. He always travelled to Europe,
to the US (which is very expensive if you live in South Africa.) My dad once told me,
and I will never forget this, it was an impacting moment in my life and I was
very young but he said “Katinka, it’s not the 8 out of 10 people that you help
that drives you, it’s the 2 out of 10 people that you send home that you
couldn’t help that will haunt you forever and that will continue to drive you to
success. Ad I took those words and it became my motto. I went to Chiropractic
College, finished here in the United States in Dallas, and then I entered
practice with every intention of being very successful. And I did the normal
chiropractic thing, I was steeped in that philosophy that the body can heal from
within and that we were designed to be healthy by innate intelligence, and I
thought I was being wildly successful in practice and I wasn’t. The biggest gap in
my life was a lack of purpose. Now I wanted it with all my heart. I wanted it
so badly and I had a mission statement written out on top of my desk I had it
next to my bed, “I wanna help people, I wanna help people get better.” But somehow it
eluded me and I knew enough to know that I shouldn’t have a feeling of lack of
purpose in my life if I were to be successful. And so my first eight years
in practice was steady of frustration. I really thought about doing something
else for a living, but then one fateful day one of my very beloved patients
Tommy Vanzant was on a ladder in his backyard 16 feet high cutting off
branches not tied to the tree, a branch came down, knocked
off the ladder, and he instantly became quadriplegic. His family called me and
asked me to come to ICU and treat him, and I will never forget the feeling of
standing next to his bedside and feeling utterly hopeless. And something inside of
me in that moment changed and I decided that I never was going to feel hopeless
again. Now I fought for Tommy, I went to Craig in Colorado to treat him in rehab,
but I just could not overcome the physical damage that was done to his
body. But I set out to find the most hopeless, helpless conditions in the
world the most painful conditions in the world, and I became obsessed with helping
those patients. My first patient was a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome patient
and I’m going to cover that syndrome in just a heartbeat. His name was Carlos he
came in with his wife and he suffered from full body burning nerve pain,
feeling as if he was being burned with a blowtorch. He could not eat any food
because the second he did his digestive tract would just be on fire, and he had
lost something like 60 pounds. They had a nine month old baby, he used to be a
police officer, and his wife the night before walked into their bedroom and found him
with a revolver in his mouth. And she said, “I am going to make a deal with you.
If you try one more thing, then I will let you go. And I will
raise our son, and I will not blame you.” And so Carlos agreed reluctantly to see
one more doctor and lucky or unlucky for me, I was that doctor. So they walked
in they delivered this message, I went to the back of my office building at the time
and I cried. And I said “Dad, I don’t know how I can do this. What if I cannot help
this patient and he commits suicide?” And my dad said “That’s not your job. Your job
is to go out there and do your best, and whatever happens after that is between
him and his body. And so I did that. I treated Carlos. He left and ate his first full meal
in I think it was six months at the time, at a Luby’s Cafeteria, here in
Arkansas that fine dining guys. So it was the most amazing feeling of my life.
After 12 weeks Carlos went into remission from a condition that’s 100%
guaranteed medically not to be curable, and I was utterly and completely hooked.
My chiropractic upbringing and education provided me with an understanding that
the body was designed to heal from within but that the body should be
treated as a whole. As connected to a human being with emotions of fear and
grief and not a machine comprised of parts. You’re not working with an engine.
I learned that the brain is intimately connected to every cell in the
body and that the brain is not merely an organ whose electric and chemical
imbalances can be manipulated by chemicals, without serious side effects
and repercussions. So I followed a whole body approach. I had this break through
realization that allopathic medicine treats symptoms and that
chronic pain patients needed to be approached with a different approach. An
approach where you come in and you don’t assume you know where the problem is
because they have pain in the foot you’re just going to look at the foot
which is going to look at the GI tract you’re going to look at the entire body
and not leave a stone unturned. I knew that I wanted my life to matter and I
knew that I found my purpose. So we passed the slide but this is one of my
favorite sayings, I have it on my office wall “You never know how much you say do or
think today may affect the lives of millions tomorrow” and I
by this. I never know when I’m sitting on an airplane and speaking to someone
about their child whether I’m saving that child’s life and that they will be
able to have children one day or make a difference in our world. I never know
whether a presentation like this will reach just the right person and so I
always say there is not a space too small for me to get on to speak to others
about my message. And I don’t care how how busy I get, how big our clinic gets, how many clinics we get, I am always going to bring our message to the masses
because I’ve seen it work for the worst of conditions and I believe in it. The types of conditions that we treat
are often called suicide diseases. Now I have personal experience with this, you’ve heard Emily’s story. I’ve treated many patients that attempted suicide and are
threatening suicide. We just sent a patient home to San Diego who took a bottle
of wine, took every okay wait she had in her house, swallowed it. She was convinced
nobody would come home, she carefully planned it. Her daughter forgot
something at home and found her, she was in her twenties, and she ended up in ICU
in a coma for three days and touch-and-go
didn’t know she was going to make it. Marty was diagnosed with severe
depression but she was not depressed before she got sick. She was in pain. She
just wanted her physical pain to stop. So many of my patients long for death.
Even children as young as six years old. And last week I had a mom sitting in
my office sobbing as her daughter ran for the first time in eight years
outside with a therapist that had just left the room. And she actually had grief on her face and
not joy. When she finally could speak to me she said “I am
just so glad that my daughter wants to live again because for eight years all
she wanted to do was die.” She was 11 years old when she got sick. Those
moments – those moments just keep you going. I have discovered that chronic pain
patients live in quicksand. They develop anxiety and depression because they got
hurt. Now, to add insult to injury, doctors often suspect
that psychiatric disorders result in invisible pain, not the other way around.
So when people with invisible pain go to the doctor, they’re often not believed
and then they’re too scared to seek help for their mental health pain on top of their
physical pain as they fear that it will make them crazy or make them seem crazy,
as if their physical condition is not real, when already often they’re not being believed. But at the bottom of all this
like a hidden virus lies pain – physical pain, real pain. This is at the core of chronic pain patient’s mental dysfunction, and this is what must be
addressed. I am NOT a person that likes band-aid treatments I like to get to the
core of the problem and sort it out so that the problem will go away and not
reappear. If a patient in those conditions simply take an antidepressant, it’s not going to solve anything
long-term and if that antidepressant stops working or if their physical pain
does not have a ceiling, eventually there will not be enough medication in the
world to save that patient from not wanting to live anymore. So this is when
I was doing my research for this talk it was actually quite shocking. We can
sometimes become numb to statistics. But the total number of prescription medications written in the
US has grown by 85% in the last two
decades while our US population has only grown by 25%. In 2011, the government set
in motion a special panel that was appointed to compare US citizens’ health
to those living in 16 comparable or peer countries where they said okay our
economic conditions are the same, countries like Great Britain, Germany, and
Sweden. And they found that Americans have a shorter life expectancy than
almost all our peer countries. We ranked higher in conditions such as diabetes,
heart disease and disability compared to other countries. We don’t fare any better
when it comes to emotional health. One recent 2018 study found that unhappy
Americans have doubled since the early 90’s. Now I’m just using common sense and
looking at these statistics and then I have to conclude that more medicine does
not make us healthier nor happier. Because of all of this I’ve reached the
conclusion that rather than trying to numb pain for patients, we should try to
find the reason that pain exists. Rather than studying disease, we should study
health and rather than treating isolated symptoms with different doctors – so you
go to run doctor for your GI problems and another doctor for your mental
health and another doctor because you have pain in your shoulder, we should start focusing
more on treating the whole person and rather than
passively being treated by doctors, patients should be charged with their own care. They should empowered and carrying
the responsibility of their recovery. They should be an active part of that
process. So you need to give them tools that they can use such as dietary
changes and physical exercises and their psychological workshops that can even be
done in group form while they’re going through treatment. And I’m
not just talking about sitting around in a circle and giving counsel even talking
about your problems, but there are innovative programs available in the world
now that can make such a big difference. One of the programs that we offer is a
process called the lightening process and that originated in Europe by a physiotherapist designed for extremely intense pain. It’s the three-day workshop where
they use some neurolinguistic programming but rather than just talking
about your problems, these patients are handed tools – something they can do the
moment they feel isolated. A process they can actually go through to take them
from fight or flight sympathetic overdrive into parasympathetic rest and
digest – I’m relaxing and I can heal and calm down. So we’re placing tools into
their hands. For too many years in the US we’ve been passively treated by
doctors and patients are tired of it. They are ready, for the most part I have
found, if they get sick enough they want control back of their life. Complex
Regional Pain Syndrome, I’m going to give you guys the cliff version, is a condition
that starts after an injury. So it’s something it could be something small like
bunion surgery or I bumped my knee or even I just went in for IV or they drew blood,
a needle entering the arm. The patient has a nervous system imbalance but
they’re not aware of it. That wound then starts burning, becomes red,
sometimes the whole arm or leg, it usually starts in a limb, and it will start discoloring, look purple and red and swollen and the
frightening thing is that that pain will spread most often to
other body parts. It does not discriminate to age, many many kids even
babies as young as 3 months old have been diagnosed with it. There’s no
medical cure, and it is called the suicide disease. There are fewer than 200,00
cases through the United States. Medically ketamine which is a horse
tranquilizer is administered usually through an IV it disconnects the body
from the brain and we will briefly alleviate the pain. They used to put patients in
ketamine comas in Germany and Mexico but too many people died so they
suspended those programs. Doctors will also recommend spinal cord stimulators
these are pushed really hard profit margin very high on those but
unfortunately in practice they are not very well regulated and have proven not to be
very very successful. For kids they often recommend pediatric pain programs. Pediatric a programs – I’m a blunt person
I’m just going to say what’s on my mind, I think there are archaic, borderline abusive.
These kids go in they’re encouraged not to mention their pain, not to talk about
your pain, that there is no cure, that they have to accept their pain, and whatever
elevates their pain they’re exposed to over and over again. So let’s say if you
bump into them that sends their pain through the roof,
they’ll be hit with pool noodles. This is happening in the US. If loud sounds
cause migraines, then they have horns blasting. So they just get used to the
pain and kids very very young are put into these programs now English Danlos
syndrome affects about one in 5,000 people it is inherited condition that
affects the connective tissue and can lead to many problems hyper flexible
joints in the body it can be asymptomatic but with the right trigger
that condition can become very very painful I’d say comparable with complex
regional pain syndrome which is read it as more painful as childbirth
it doesn’t just last you know hours but it’s constant day in and day out with no
light inside now we might think of DNA as something alien heritage and we’re a
little off but Bruce Lipton is an American biologist that’s done a ton of
research in this department and he said that the character of our life is
determined not by our genes our responses to environmental signals that
surround us so what that means is you may have the gene culprit idea or for
cancer and it’s still like a lock that needs a back here the stress physical
chemical or emotional stress that unlocks it and if you can figure out how
to lock the lock again even though the genetic blueprint is still there that
patient may become asymptomatic oh what a 11th proverb does spiro spero
which means as long as i breathe i hope i have found that hope is the most
single powerful healing ingredients in patient healing journeys in my
experience once the patient finds even the smallest sliver of hope they no
longer wish for death it’s our job as caretaker as physicians as those looking
out for patients to deliver hope as early as possible but how do we do this
in our clinic so to various modalities and techniques that I will describe to
you guys we figured out how to decrease physical pains as early as the first or
through ancient days of treatment this is very very important because if a
patient goes in and they’ve been to a hundred doctors and have tried so many
invasive therapies you have a small window of time to capture that patients
heart and hope an attention ready and willingness to work and so
it’s very very important that we show them that their pain can drop on the
pain scale even one to two points and that this can be done by their body
without medication even though our clinic is relatively tiny what we are
doing is working we’re treating some of the worst pain conditions in the world
we peed three people that have tried everything else
our patients who recover come in suicidal and they leave only that
they’ve been given a second chance of life
so they suffer from very rare conditions some of the most hopeless painful
conditions in their world I’m thinking if the hopeless can be helped
why can other conditions not be helped so using the same methods a recipe is
simple but effective and every patient recovery starts with the promotion hope
finca yeah so I can I just add a little personal testimonial to that because
yeah please I’ll say that you know some of the things that you you mentioned
about you know some of the traditional methods of pain management and what our
kids are going through and people can go through they lose that hope they’re
being told over and over and over and over again that is a condition in the
case of my daughter’s EDS was there’s no cure for that and it’s we’re going we’re
going to teach you how to cope with it and and teach coping mechanisms and and
the element that you brought up earlier of you know not being believed by
traditional health care and physicians saying I you know we can’t diagnose
anything so it must be psychological and and so in Emily’s case she felt that no
one believed her and as much as her mom and I tried to you know to let her know
that we would go to the ends of the earth and in fact I remember in one of
our hospital admissions saying if I have to take you to Australia and dance
around a fire in the rain forest with Pig needs we’ll do that right because
we’ll never give up but the one thing and and I’m starting to well up here
when the room can see that but the one thing that happened at the clinic in
Fayetteville when and I’ll always remember this it was day two and Emily
called me a witness and a test that I showed a lot of people here in the
building and she sent me that test and it showed what was going on with her
nerve endings and in her back it was a medical test that that dr. van de mer
performed on Emily and and showed her what was happening with her nerve
endings endings and she said it’s real what you’re feeling is real and we can
help you and she said she just said somebody believes me see I’m not crazy
and she had hope all right that’s all I can say stop like that makes me tear up
to joke because her story is just so personal to me so thank you for sharing
that I wish I could see you guys’s faces because it’s so nice to emotionally
connect with my audience but my heart is absolutely there with you
you cannot solve a growing problem by using old thinking and approaches and
yes I want to make something clear but my knees are three weeks old her life
was saved by a cardiac surgeon in Little Rock so I have massive respect for
medical doctors I will now work with the team of medical doctors across the
country that are referring patients to me I just think that emergency care
should have the majority dominance in the medical world and the chronic pain
management there are so many more effective ways than what we are dealing
trying to numb the pain from the outside in Robin Williams said no matter what
people tell you words and ideas can change the world and so I hold to
believe in my heart that what we’re doing here is going to grow back we can
make a difference even now we’re a tiny clinic I think
we’re employing 22 people now here in Arkansas I’ll tell you and a lot of
people pull us and say from Europe or New York City they didn’t have in their
life plan coming to Arkansas to come try to sign an answer but my program
shouldn’t be the only of its kind the philosophy and approach that is treating
itself to be successful for some of the most painful and difficult conditions in
the world should be more readily available to people across the US and
across the world we see so many children now suffering from chronic pain
conditions if they’re old enough to communicate their pain adequately
they’re often bounced from doctors to doctor and if they’re lucky enough to be
believed their treatment options are abysmal and anyone has to consider their
parents and siblings who are in pain watching these children suffer I often
say the one thing in Joe you probably will agree with this but the one thing
that is worse than suffering from chronic pain is watching your child
suffer while you’re forced to helplessly stand by and you cannot help them there
has to be a better way than telling these children that there has to get
used to their pain these kids deserve a chance to have a normal life most
patients will not be stopped by distance or other obstacles to regain their
freedom from chronic pain and this is something we have found we’re constantly
counting the countries where our patients come from in our office we
proudly have the patient in every country that that are coming from on a
map with her husband each country ten tells me bad word about our work is
spreading and while I’m proud of that mouth is pretty proud of that now I feel
that patients shouldn’t have to travel across the world for treatment
relatively simple in its philosophy to support the body to you from the inside
out it doesn’t just have to be done our way
it’s not like we found a super secret recipe only can be done here I mean
these approaches can work in clinics and hospitals across the world so what is
our philosophy we treat the body as a whole and I’ve gone through this that
you cannot treat it as an engine where you have all these specialists none of
our communicating with each other besides being hunted your authors none
that they often don’t have the time to go over it is possible for scar tissue
in the shoulders to directly affect healing of coronary complex regional
pain syndrome and the left foot for instance we have found it style find the
root cause there is a revolution in house where patients no longer want to
accept that they suffer from ABCDE are they going to take it tailor-made rocks
made specifically to mask those symptoms then come with side effects for which
they need more drugs people want to get to the root cause of their problem and
we have found the battery cost still lies in the central nervous system we
should establish multidisciplinary centers over two single sign and remove
interference through healing the secret force is to create a loving and healing
environment now in our office that’s done in many ways I’m going to show you
pictures of our waiting room but I’m waiting right it’s not like other
doctors waiting rooms and Nolan’s waiting rooms should be like the waiting
rooms we grew up being used to when you walk in it’s an elevator atmosphere
where you sit down with your magazine or hair file and you don’t look at the
person next to you you’re looking down you’re going in to see the doctor you’re
not talking about your condition and you’re not getting support my patient
are all trained just by watching other examples when they come in to celebrate
each other’s successes to have each other when they cry to talk about their
pain to talk about their tough days to become friends to hang out outside the
office when there’s year now I realize this is destination clinic but there are
ways do patient talks that we can pull our waiting room in and make that part
of the healing environment our treatment areas are not isolated and we have
patients that are not disrobe we have treatment tables next to each other just
a partition so when I’m speaking to one patient and I’m telling them something
about their care the patient next to us are benefiting from that if a patient
sits up on the table and they’re crying I’ll have another patient come over and
give them a hug that sense of openness to me is crucial and it’s the opposite
of what we’ve been trained my suit see in health care through the lots of
laughter in my clinic I’ve broken down so many barriers traditionally that you
have between a physician and their patient if I cannot last with my patient
if I cannot break through then I cannot help them my staff are hand-picked each
and every staff member here is special I have what I call that x-factor really
all it is is that they truly go home at night and they’re bothered if not we’re
not helping so much they cry with our patients they care they’re not here for
a paycheck some of them were waiters but I just happened to meet all across
different walks of life some of them came here and asked me to work here
we’re gaining a reputation is a great place to be because of all these
miracles but they have to be special to be here you have to support the patient
in most of me while going through the process now these are some of our
patients some of our modalities to your left you can see a girl with dark hair
they are French she was suicidal and I’m allowed to talk
about her because she gave me permission she’s going food after therapy with
Tammy where they hooked up to a direct currents where each move on that machine
is the equivalent of 250 physical therapy moves it makes traditional
physical therapy obsolete up there you can see me doing my vagus nerve therapy
with a patient were laughing that actually was hoping for the camera I’m
laughing most of the times when I’m with patients there’s just so much even among
in the midst of tragedy of a pain if you can find to laugh at next to this you
can see a lien on an exercise bike using a system called live to where we deplete
oxygen while exercising and then flood the body with pure oxygen to get to the
distal cells but detoxification erasing scar tissue and also bringing healing to
their self at the bottom you can see Casey doing scar tissue therapy using
soundwaves scar tissue all across the body is the
massive impediment to healing so we attack that very aggressively and then
there is a patient doing a new treatment from Europe the original name of the
treatment is called Sun of soul which I find kind of silly personally but
basically we’re finding now in healthcare that the heart is more than
just a pool of muscle pumping acting as a pump but that actually there are many
things we still don’t understand about the heart but the heart actually drives
the brain as well and so this is a way where the hard sites are recorded and
played back to the patient that instantly takes the patient out of
stress state there are logic weeks and puts them into a parasympathetic state
where we can track that in real life time on a computer in Europe that had to
wake up from using this technology they’re using it
at the university of frankfurt for research so there’s lots of research now
being done by cardiologists about that treatment I didn’t have a map about the
treatments I wanted all I knew as but it had to be very successful able to help
the worst of the worst in the world and I had to keep an open mind and always am
ready to improve on my system so I found these technologies in all corners of the
world there you guys can see examples of our waiting room anytime of the day this
really is what it looks like lifelong friendships are being formed
here now the next thing that’s super important in our clinic our therapy dogs
yeah I’m not a big dog person has to say I was more of a cat person and the
therapy dogs in the beginning were kind of a nuisance to me but then I started
noticing children in therapy that can be painful at time holding hippo you can
see him varieties are bolder than therapy dog and to the topless the
sparrow named after our clinic German Shepherd
puppy she’s going to be trained as a therapy dog in our clinic to the bottom
is loris little touch turned and Daisy she’s not a very nice dog that’s between
us but Daisy has another way through and massively important to Laura going
through the treatments so I have found these dogs to be super important to
these patients when they’re going through painful treatments to distract
them to get comfort deep down in our hearts it doesn’t matter what age we are
sometimes we just need that feeling that we have that comfort that teddy bear
that blanket because we go back to the Child Life State when our pain is that
high that is me with this junior Mississippi
I think is what they call it she was absolutely amazing came in in severe
pain was complex regional pain syndrome and Edie a beautiful girl that’s picked
out of life for five years she is now back in University she is a cheerleader
she has our life back she has her first boyfriend the bone that you see is a
ceremony that we promote in here where it is the painting reaches the pain
levels that they aimed for if they feel that they fit few success every staff
member in the clinic and every patient gathers we put it live on Facebook and
we have what we call a bell ceremony where they have a speech and I speak a
little bit and they just get to ring that Bell
it’s a full stop or I guess you got a period here in the US it’s a period to
their care where they can say that part of my life is now over and I’m entering
a new part of my life these ceremonies are so important to patients because
it’s something they can look forward to it’s a goal they have they see other
people going through it and it gives them hope I would like to end my talk
today with this message oh wait I have pictures to go through Eva to the left
is from Belgium the girl that’s running out of the border she was doing her
first try on she wanted to have her legs amputated in Europe she have complex
regional pain syndrome couldn’t find a doctor willing to do it and then started
looking into assisted suicide her parents at the time did not know she now
is a therapist in Valium we trained her in one of her modalities we’re sitting
are some of our European patients just that one therapist I went from hopeless
to helping other I’ve made a giant difference probably
fifty patients lives already this year so that one drop in the ocean the
ripples going out are just magnificent next year spent on the rocks is big
green from Sweden she hikes ten mile hikes now see how complex regional pain
syndrome the girl who X had arnold-chiari
malformation hugging her mom she was a marathon runner would you guys see there
is a moment where she just wrapped for the first time in I want to say four
years as her mom was sobbing you can’t see her mom’s face next to her look how
bright is Megan first time 0 you can see the absolute joy on her face bottomless
quarter is Gabby Gabby was suicidal they pulled her one her mom at work and said
Gabby Gabby wants to take her own life and her room just laid into the car and
started sobbing and she said I said I just asked for a solution open youtube
and our video popped up that is the first moment that hug when Gabby’s pain
dropped to 0 next to her is an another patient professional volleyball player
you can see her legs before look at her knees they’re not made and then ask her
she has complex regional pain syndrome for five years she’s not about the
competitive volleyball learning on those samples or ankle right ankle you can see
the red foot for complex regional pain syndrome looks like she was on crutches
for five years when she came in and in her case didn’t want to be her here her
mother pretty much hogtied her and put her on an airplane to come to the US
next year you can see some of her mom her mom jumped up and down when happy
things happen zero care and manage to capture that moment were her pain and
her Valley dropped a 7 out of 10 for the
first time rather than attempt to be in that picture it exemplifies pure dreams
I would like to end my talk today with this message for you guys
healing isn’t heart it takes time and it takes practice and most of all it takes
love it has been said that physicians should not get attached to their
patients I say if you don’t care about your patients and the people around them
their families that are also suffering that have been broken by their pain you
cannot truly fight for your patients chronic pain in the United States is
growing emotional suffering associated with pain is also growing Johnson and
Johnson I’ve researched you guys quite a bit and it’s a company on the frontline
of truly changing human health care if you are lucky enough to be in this
company and stand on the wall and fight for those who often do not know how to
begin to fight for themselves you have been blessed just by being part of this
great company you have the chance to change the world and you have a great
voice if you have Johnson and Johnson’s voice do not waste your voice do not
walk the road that so many others have walked leading to the same place do not
advocate the use of the same old approaches that are clearly not bringing
about change in US healthcare we’re truly alleviating human suffering if you
took the time today to sit through our glitters of the computers and listen to
me I believe that I have a message for you help me to change disease care to
health care let’s stop approaching suffering as a
chemical problem and instead let’s find the root cause of suffering and change
one life of it at a time I have a purpose my purpose is
to change the way we approach emotional suffering caused by physical pain if you
chose to listen to me today you care about changing the face of human
suffering to ask yourself working for this influential company that has cut so
many roads is the road millions of Americans are walking on leading to
permanent solutions whereas adjustor ugly all no and what we have told has
been told that health care should be why why did you wake up this morning and go
to work why do you wake up in the mornings what is your purpose in the
words of Mary Oliver this is one of my favorite quotes tell me what is it you
plan to do with your one wild and precious life thank you so much for your
time guys thank you Joe thank you very very much good thing and that was

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