The Gold Coast Chiropractor

Physician Heal Thyself

I hadn’t been feeling well for about six weeks. I was tired, breathless and had a niggly cough. I reasoned I was just ‘run down’ from a busy work schedule. Since I have enjoyed wonderful health my entire life, I figured my trusty immune system would soon get me back on track. I had dedicated 2017 to working hard and getting my business structures in a healthy and sustainable position. Then I could kick back a little and relax! Perhaps take a cruise.

At the youngish age of 52, I was happily working full-time hours, my clinic schedule was fully-booked and patients were responding well. I was enjoying a very successful period in my professional life and was on the crest of my career wave.

There was a downside. My busy clinic made it seem like there was never enough time to do the other important things outside of the practice. I justified that I could live with that as it was only for the short term (this year) and the greater good was being served. Little did I know, the adverse health effects of this unfortunate balancing act could be catastrophic.

The previous eighteen months had been busy challenging and very stressful. While maintaining my daily practice as a chiropractor, our team had opened a beautiful new clinic at Surfers Paradise. Chiropractor Dr Alex had settled in nicely at the Surfers clinic. In October 2016 we then moved our Worongary Clinic to Mudgeeraba. This was a necessary business decision that required another six months of planning, focus and effort. When I added the ‘normal’ stresses and strains of keeping up with a young family, trying to stay fit and balancing the cheque book, every moment of every day seemed to be accounted for. There was little time to think and there was no time for me.

All of this activity distracted me from what should have been of paramount importance; I didn’t notice my body was screaming out loudly… Physician Heal Thyself.

Six weeks before I was hospitalised, I was stricken by a severe infection that left me coughing and very unwell. I felt chest tightness, breathless, feverish and fatigued. I blamed this on the flu and waited for my body to improve. I waited and waited, but something was wrong this time. I wasn’t getting better. In fact, my symptoms were worsening day by day.

I kept my family and work commitments up as best I could, but my health continued to decline. My job finally ground to a halt at 6 pm on 8th Augusts 2017. As the last patient left, I stood drained, weak and gasped for air. I had hardly slept in a week and was feeling worryingly unwell. Like nothing, I had experienced before. I was glad that I had booked an appointment with my doctor first thing in the morning. He would soon get me over this persistent ‘chest infection’ or whatever it was.

The cheery disposition of my doctor didn’t last very long. A chest examination and ECG quickly revealed my heart was madly over pumping and my pulse and blood pressure were sky high. An hour later I was admitted to Robina Hospital Emergency Department and soon was transferred by ambulance to Gold Coast University Hospital. A raft of blood tests, echocardiogram, angiogram and ultrasound, revealed my heart was working crazily fast and hard but only producing about 12% of its typical pumping requirement. The cardiologist diagnosed Heart Failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy – a serious life threatening illness likely caused by a virus some weeks ago when my immune system was over stressed and overwhelmed.

My downward health spiral played-out like a horror movie in my mind. I had become a victim of the self-neglect that I counsel my patients to avoid every single day. How easy it is to think about the goal and forget the journey. To ignore advice, even when it is coming from concerned family and friends that can see things going wrong. How dumb to not pay attention to your most precious asset, your own body! I spent the rest of my hospital time in deep contemplation hoping my heart would begin to heal, getting my priorities in order again and rededicating myself to live again by the axiom Physician Heal Thyself.

It has been 2 weeks since being discharged from the hospital, and I am feeling a little better each day. My health regimen consists of heart medication, continual medical monitoring, low-salt diet, prescribed exercise, adequate rest, deeper sleep, daily stress management and an excellent chiropractor. It may take some time to return to work, but I will be back at Mind & Body Chiropractic as soon as possible with a better attitude and a sustainable, sensible balancing act between my work life as a chiropractor and my personal life as a husband, dad and grandfather.

Finally, thank you so much for the very kind well wishes, get well cards and messages of encouragement and hope. Thank you, thank you, thank you! They are so very appreciated. I look forward to seeing you all back at the clinic in the soonest possible time.

Dr Andrew Fell
Mind & Body Chiropractic