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  • Writer's pictureJay Danto

Illness and the Sacred Promise of Osteopathy

Being ill may be overwhelming or it may be a story of overcoming. An example of overcoming the effects of an illness use to be more common when professional athletes would have the flu and receive intravenous fluids to play despite illness. This is not the case so much in the Covid-19 era due to the dire risks of infecting others. There are different kinds of illnesses and different severities of illness that affect people disproportionately in terms of body, mind, and spirit. Regardless of the kind or severity of an illness we are in many ways not ourselves. Recently, I had Covid-19 and while sick in bed with not much to do except heal I became reminiscent regarding the financials of our new practice. Despite the growing success of the clinic, I saw things darkly through the lens of illness.

My body healed and upon returning to the work of helping others my appreciation for my practice soon returned. It was easy for me to see that the Danto Osteopathic Clinic is continuing to grow. The severity of the patients that walk into our clinic and the success that we achieve in helping them despite struggling with other healthcare providers healed my mind and spirit faster than just recovering from the Covid. I often express gratitude at the end of a visit in appreciation for people allowing me to participate in their healing journey.

Covid-19 is a novel illness in many ways including the variations with which people experience symptoms. I had the typical flu-like symptoms of an upper respiratory infection with nasal congestion and a sore throat, as well as whole body aches and fatigue. Most patients that come to the clinic have musculoskeletal problems or other chronic illnesses. This is quite different from a virus, which is usually self-limiting. Often people with musculoskeletal pains or chronic illnesses go through a progression over time of limiting their activity levels to match their symptoms. This progression may result in them maintaining the mind and spirit at somewhat normal levels or, in more severe illnesses, it may result in them experiencing a variety of psychological symptoms including anger, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, as well as the resultant breakdown of their spirit through feelings of being singled out by illness and challenging their faith in a compassionate god or higher power.

One of my colleagues use to tell me that helping people recover from illness is sacred work. Along these lines, many of you may have noticed the quote in the Danto Osteopathic Clinic waiting room by Dr. Still, “Osteopathy is to me a very sacred science. It is sacred because it is a healing power through all nature.” My friend came to the recognition of the sacred aspects of Osteopathy because she recognized that some people did not just have an illness, their illness had them. The illness had gained control of their lives and in her eyes, it had become a “false god” that controlled and limited their actions and thoughts. The philosophical and theological implications of the “sacred” role of Osteopathy in helping people heal is a humbling and open-to-interpretation part of my reality that I cherish. The bottom line is that we are not just paying lip-service to the concept of THRIVING in Body, Mind, and Spirit at the Danto Osteopathic Clinic. We mean it and it is our sacred promise to you.

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