Mission work is not always easy, and this proved to be true from Day One of service. We began the morning by standing in a large circle in the chiropractic tent with about thirty other chiropractors, as well as translators and other staff, holding hands and holding space for one another to set our intentions for the day. This was followed by a large amount of people from all over India swarming into the tent, the vast majority of them coming in for their very first chiropractic visit. There were many more people waiting for adjustments than there were chiropractors to adjust, creating an environment that was very crowded, noisy, and at times significantly chaotic. Compounding this chaos was the fact that 99.9% of the people spoke no English at all, so all communication had to be done through interpreters (all of whom were amazing by the way) assigned to each chiropractor. To top off the mayhem, we as chiropractors, were concerned with our own well-beings, as we were constantly contesting with jet-lag, lack of sleep, and stomach aches that ensued due to the stark contrast between Indian food and water cleanliness compared with ours in America. The challenging conditions that were posed to us during this time were somewhat analogous to being placed in a pressure cooker, and in that container, it truly tested our ability to put ourselves aside in order to be there for those that needed our help.
Each morning we were presented with an endless stream of patients, some barefoot and homeless, some wealthy and bejeweled. Each human came with his or her own reasons as to why they were seeking help, which turned out to be almost every case out of the radiology textbook we study in school. In that chiropractic tent, each human became equal to every other as they lay on our tables and got their nervous system checked and cleared out, leaving the room much brighter in demeanor and at a much more significant amount of ease.
Throughout the service trip, many of the chiropractors got sick in some way, shape, or form, and yet somehow, we still miraculously showed up for those endless lines of people each day. Through all the challenges that we faced, we somehow found a cadence with ourselves, with each other, with our interpreters/assistants, and most importantly, with all of our patients. Despite its many challenging variables, this service trip presented us with priceless personal rewards just knowing that our work impacted over ten thousand people that had never before experienced chiropractic, and perhaps never would be able to again. On top of this we forged new and lasting relationships with all of our assistants and interpreters whose outstanding efforts made this work possible.
As I sit here and write this, I stop and think about why I wanted to be a chiropractor before I ever went to school to become one. I wanted to serve. I wanted to help people so that they could have a better life. Of course, as I proceeded into school and beyond into professional life, more details would be added to that Why, but still today it distills down to that simplicity of service to my fellow human being. A wise man once said that the greatest gift you can give to humanity is service, and the greatest gift you can give to yourself is to serve others. Our profession is awesome. May the work continue…