In honour of Osteo Awareness Week I thought I’d write a little piece on what my standard day is like, with a few cases, a few anecdotes and a few jealousy inducing features.
Yesterday I woke up. In my bed. With Annie the sloth lying next to me.
Annie is a yoga teacher and psychology student that single handedly proves the myth of the happy morning yogi wrong.
Leaping into my day I put the percolator on and sit in my kitchen with the laptop open. I try to start each day with 30-60min of life/business admin.
After a heavy weekend of 9-5 meetings in Sydney for Osteo Australia and then a Monday of 7 radio interviews, a flight back from Sydney, interviewing a Chinese Medicine practitioner and the perpetual war against ants, I was a little slow.
And so instead of emails I spent 60min reading about football and glorying in the resurgent Hawthorn football club.
Annie rose, I told her how productive I had been that Tuesday morning and how she could learn from me. She asked about the football. I ignored her and walked to work.
We are fortunate enough to live in North Melbourne, I am fortunate enough to also work in North Melbourne and so the commute to work tends to take between 5-10minutes depending on the traffic.
I think there is an element that the closer to work you are the closer you tend to running late. Walking into the clinic with 5minutes till my first patient I am a little rushed.
Luckily I have some wonderful reception staff and they have logged my computer in an left a few reminders for me.
Located in Errol St Medical Centre we are in the roof of a very old building. There is a giant glass window across the top of the room and I have plants everywhere.
Every Tuesday I take three of the plants that have been soaking in the sink over the weekend and hang them back up on the roof.
Plants up I look through my list. 5 new patients and 7 returns. It’s going to be a long one.
My computer bings to indicate the arrival of my first patient/client, I take a breath and we’re on.
The first guy has neck pain and recurrent headaches that have been occurring for the last month.
The second also has neck pain and headaches.
I explain to both of them the process. We’re going to ask a bunch of questions about who you are, what you do, your medical history and then we’ll ask about what has brought you in.
I often also say that the hands on side of things is pretty easy, most things tend to feel better but the challenge is for us to figure out why their necks are sore.
And this is the satisfying part of being an osteopath for me.
Cracking stuff, massaging stuff, seeing people walk in unable to turn their head and leave rotating fully is great.
But it doesn’t compare to the light flicking on in someone’s eyes as they realise what they have been doing that has lead to them being in my office.
The first guy has been working 12-14 hour days and then commuting 1-2 hours each day. He’s stressed out of his eyeballs, his jaw is clenched like a partier at 6am and his shoulders are millimetres from his ears.
The second patient is a netflix fiend. She has been lying on her back in bed with the laptop on the bed to her right. Her head at 90degrees to her body and turned to the right.
Bits of the body tend to get sore when they are loaded beyond their capacity.
In the first case the muscles of the neck and jaw are being loaded throughout the day. The muscles themselves are fatigued and the bits of bone they attach to are bloody sore.
The challenge for this fellow is to address the causes of his stress: his hours at work, which may mean talking with a psychologist, with HR or with a career counsellor.
In the second case the muscles that come from the head and attach to the spine are being stretched every night when she is netflixing.
The challenge for this patient is much easier. She has to lie on her side or put 2-3 pillows on her tummy and then put the laptop on the tower of pillows to decrease the load on her neck.
And so with two patients down, with very similar presenting complaints but with vastly different causative mechanisms, the day continues.
There are low backs, necks, pregnancy related issues, another headache, a hip issue, a nerve/shoulder/neck issue and at 7pm it draws to a close.
And throughout it all there is a whole lot of talking, laughing, trading podcasts, movie/tv recommendations, restaurant debates and story telling.
On my walk home I swing by the IGA, I get home, cook dinner, Annie has changed outfits and is now in her NightOwl attire. We have friends over.
I reflect a little over dinner. I think one of the nice things about being an osteo is the interaction with people that I get.
As a doctor you have great responsibility and see people with illness, disease and a risk of death.
As an osteo you have some responsibility and see people in pain that mostly get better but then you get the added bonus of talking about things that are interesting.
I head to bed book in hand at the ripe old time of 10pm and leave Annie the night owl to entertain. Must have been too much life/business admin in the morning.