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What the Hell Does He Know?

Jan. 22, 2023

by Dr. David Fialk, Editor / Publisher

I spent my eighteenth birthday, and the whole of August, on Martha's Vineyard, shacking up with my high school girlfriend in a house that her sister rented with some of her college chums. Life was good.

I had my first job there, briefly working washing pots in the Harborview Inn in Edgartown. It was a busy kitchen, with five chefs on the line. I ruined a good pair of shoes in the slop.

One night a waitress brought back a dish of food to the chef who had cooked it, telling him that the customer complained that it was too something-or-other. The considerable clatter that the chefs made all at once halted as they all looked over at the chef in question, who, after a very brief moment's consideration, said, "What the hell does he know about food?" As abruptly as it had stopped, the clattering resumed.

I am a big fan of the Civil List. Yes, sometimes it gets petty, but it more than redeems itself as a community forum. In fact, I like the concept so much that I made Lokkal, my own version of an online community space, complementary to the Civil List.

So, I hate to start sniveling. But there is one type of post on that forum that grabs my goat. It's when someone asks: "Can anyone recommend a good massage therapist?" or chiropractor? acupuncturist? osteopath?

I understand that people are just trying to be helpful, and that they might even succeed in their intent, but when I read the answers, when I do read the answers, the words of that chef come back to me. I think to myself, "What the hell do you know about massage therapy?" or chiropractic? acupuncture? osteopathy?

That dissatisfied customer in the Harborview Inn so many years ago, could have responded to the chef's derisive dismissal, "What the hell does he know about food?", by retorting that he had been eating food all his life. But that wouldn't have carried any water.


Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard
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Taking photos doesn't make you a photographer. Putting a story onto a page doesn't make you a writer. Painting a canvas doesn't make you an artist.

Having graduated from a four-year college of naturopathic medicine and been licensed as a naturopathic doctor and practiced as such since I was 27-years-old, I actually do know a thing or two about massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and osteopathy. And lately, I've been in need of one of these.

I've had a persistent problem with my left shoulder from years of misusing my arm at this computer, pressing down all day on my palm to anchor my hand, a completely unnecessary action. After minimizing this action, for some long while, the pain above my shoulder blade slowly got better, until, most days, only a tightness remained. Then, quite suddenly, my arm got painful and weak, especially lifting things over my head.

Also, four or five months ago I hurt my mid to lower back doing something stupid in my otherwise healthy yoga routine. This, originally quite severe, also slowly got better over time, with pain decreasing to zero and range of motion returning, about 80%.

Finally, I made an appointment with my osteopath. Really, Mario, a Spanish Romani, is my friend Veronica's osteopath, as she sees him regularly for her congenital difficulty. I saw him a couple of times a couple of years ago. I was impressed, but aside from my left shoulder, which was getting better, I had no pressing health issues.

Anyway, this time, ten days ago, I went back to the good doctor significantly compromised. I lay on his table and he did his magic. Then he had me sit up and he did some more. He gripped the ridge of my shoulder blade with one hand and the front of my shoulder with his other and lifted the shoulder up and away from the rest of my body, giving it a good stretch. He also diagnosed muscle guarding where I had hurt my back (I was glad it wasn't anything more) and worked on that for a little while.

His technique was masterful and smooth. His hands were confident and wise. The Indians say that with a good physician half of the healing takes place when the patient sees the doctor. So it was with Dr. Mario.


Dr. Mario
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After our 50-minute session, he told me that in addition to my shoulder and back, my sacrum had been off. When I asked him if I could come back and see him again, he made a funny face, an expression that I took as saying, "I'm not trying to sell you anything. It's up to you." What he actually said was, "I did a lot of work on you today; it would be good if you came back in a couple of weeks." "Semanitas", "little weeks" was the word he used; although his English is very good, we were speaking in Spanish.

Little gestures often say a lot. Circumstantial evidence can be compelling. In my practice up north, I used to say, my problem was that my patients kept getting better and didn't have to come see me anymore. Here was Dr. Mario, more or less apologizing for not fixing everything in one visit.

My shoulder was much improved right away. Ten days later it remains so. I don't know if it's any stronger, but far fewer movements of my arm cause pain. There is still sometimes pain at rest, but I keep provoking that problem by spending so much time in one position at this keyboard. I am doing a better job remembering to stretch it out, take it through a range of motion, now and then.

The stiffness in my back is also much better, almost gone. I no longer feel tension there in doing my yoga, my practice recently restarted in earnest. And in the morning, I can squat on the pot (my preferred position) without any discomfort.

Now and then, when, without pain, I bend down to pick something up off the floor or cross my leg to put on my sock, I remember how I suffered. Forgetfulness is a blessing. We have to get over some things to get on with others. But I have to remember to be grateful; to remember how bad it was to be grateful for how good it is.

I can't tell you anything about art or much about cuisine, but I have some expertise when it comes to natural medicine. I can say for a fact that Dr. Mario is a real healer. Osteopathy, truly holistic, is no doubt good for whatever ails you. But emphasizing as it does, the manipulation of muscles, tissues and bones, I'd recommend you seeing Dr. Mario for any ache or pain that's troubling you. You'll be glad that you did. I am.

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Contact Doctor Mario at 415-117-8030 (Whatsapp)

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