Finding a Care Plan Suitable for Me

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The follow up appointment from my intake exam happened on Tuesday, May 1, and Dr. Tom* reviewed the results from the Thermal Scan, Surface EMG, and Pulse Wave Profiler. These are the results pertaining strictly to my case.

Finding a care plan suitable for me #chiropracticcare #brandiclevinger
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created by Brandi Clevinger using the image from © marek at
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The Intake Exam Results

Thermal Scan

Pulled directly from the informational sheet:

“The thermal scan is used to assess the part of your nervous system that helps to control your organs, glands, and blood vessels. The autonomic nervous system works alongside the spinal nerves to regulate your immunity while managing your internal organ functions. The instrument does this by precisely measuring differences in temperature along the spine Temperature is an accurate indicator as to where stress is building up and how deeply it affects bodily functions. Each organ system relies on clear and balanced nerve signals to work efficiently. Nerve interference that is detected by this sensor is valuable in understanding and planning health and wellness strategies.”

Yeah. A lot of technical stuff, but it basically figures out where your spine is stressed.

Here is the actual thermal scan of my spine:

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My thermal scan results.

What the results say

In this case, green does not mean ‘good’. White is good, green is a mild stress, blue indicates mild to moderate stress, and red is highly stressed. As suspected and Tami stated in her hypothesis Part 1, the cervical area of the spine is strained. (I actually receive disability from the VA for this strain and I had forgotten about it until that conversation with Tami.)

This makes sense as to why I have so many issues with my neck, shoulders, and arms. Tension sits in my neck area and that area is usually rock hard. Now that we see the strain, this will help with the adjusting later on. There are a few other areas that are mildly stressed especially my lower back. My lower back is always hurting and I will come to find out in later sessions just how inflamed it is.

One thing to keep in mind – you don’t always feel pain when these areas are stressed. Inflammation is a different story. We’ll get to that in later articles.

EMG Scan

Another test was the Surface EMG exam and that “evaluates the function o f the muscles that support and move your spine.” For this one, I hit nearly perfect in terms of normal. Dr. Tom was impressed by my results of it.

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My EMG scan results.

Crazy photo, right? I think so, too.

Pulse Wave Profiler

The last exam “helps the doctor to determine your overall ability to adapt to the environment.” I thought I would score pretty well on this one because I feel as though I adapt and overcome pretty easily. That was wrong. To know what I mean, let’s look at my results.

An ideal place to fall would be in the green spot where there is a dotted square. Where the tiny block is in the yellow just to the left of the centerline is where I fall. Let’s break it down.

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The vertical axis (numbers going up the left side) is the level of the autonomic nervous system activity. Mine is at 70.99. Not too bad.

The horizontal axis is the nervous system broken down into sympathetic (the fight or flight response) and parasympathetic (rest and digest). Most of the time, a fibromyalgia body will be in a fight or flight response. This is because of the hypothalamus being “stuck” in this state.

In Chapter 3 of her book, The Fibro Manual, Dr. Liptan explains how the hypothalamus is responsible for switching between the two parts of the nervous system:

  1. The sympathetic which controls most of the stress responses including tight muscles, increase heart rate, and slows the gastrointestinal system.
  2. The parasympathetic responsible for the relaxation response including relax muscles, decreased heart rate, and normalizes the gastrointestinal system.

With my body being in a constant state of alarm (falling to the left of the centerline in the diagram), it’s no wonder I’m experiencing increase heart rate, tight muscles, and issues with my stomach. I’m in a constant state of alarm which causes so many other chemical reactions (or lack of reactions) throughout my body. Seriously, Dr. Liptan’s book explains it all and the whole time I have ‘aha’ moments whenever I read. By the way – I’m never done reading it. I always refer back to it.


Back to the Pulse Wave Profiler results. The square is divided into four quadrants. My square dot (Can it be a square and dot at the same time? Why, yes. Yes it can.) is in the lower left quadrant. This indicates ‘distressed’. The results read, “This imbalance is accompanied by fatigue and exhaustion. Like a battery that no longer holds a charge, you lack the resources to deal with everyday stress.”

I do have fatigue and exhaustion like ALL. THE. TIME. But I’m surprised by the statement of not being able to deal with everyday stress. Once he explained those results and suggested ways to relieve stress, I realized that I wasn’t dealing with my stress despite what I was telling myself. Crying is not an effective way of releasing stress. Sure, it’s okay to have a cry every now and again, but crying for me comes when I’ve been bottling it up too long. That wasn’t healthy at all and there were actual tests showing me that reality. I was determined to start being more effective with stress relief techniques.

X-Ray Results

Other parts of this conversation dealt with the X-rays and what vertebrae were being affected.

The spine has small spongy discs that sit between the vertebrae. The nerves throughout the body also pass between the vertebrae of the spine. Only a small piece of the spine actually transmits pain.

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image taken from Managed Back Pain website

The condition of the spine and the discs are classified into four phases. The phase of the spine indicates how much of that spongy disc is affected and how impacted the nerves are by this deterioration of the disc. The four phases are:

  • Normal: graceful curve; equal disc spacing; normal turning and bending
  • Phase 1: loss of curve; narrowing of disc spacing; impaired turning and bending
  • Phase 2: roughening joint surfaces; bone spurs; reduced mobility
  • Phase 3: severe bone remodeling; irreversible joint fusion; permanent loss of motion

To be clear, the phase of your spine does not indicate how much pain your body receives. Someone in phase 3 can experience no pain while someone in phase 1 can experience a lot of pain. Read more about herniated discs.

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Also, how much a nerve is impacted by the spine results in other symptoms. Astonishing fact: five pounds of pressure on a nerve results in 60% loss of that nerve. For example, if your spine is putting pressure on a motor nerve, you may experience fatigue or muscle weakness. If your spine is putting pressure on an autonomic nerve, you may experience allergies or stomach problems. Again, the spine sends and receives nerve signals throughout the body in order to pass that information onto your brain. This is why the central nervous system is your brain and spine.

Drumroll, please…my results say…

The imaging showed my neck to be phase 1, mid-back phase 2, and lower back on the cusp of phase 2. This goes to show that everyone receives their phases differently in terms of pain. My lower back gives me more pain than my mid-back even though my mid-back is in an advanced phase.

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My spinal decay report. Most of my pain and inflammation are in my lower back.

There are many possible symptoms of the condition of my vertebrae. Here is my chart and the symptoms associated with it.

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As indicated on the sheet, my problem areas are directly linked to my current symptoms.

I won’t cover all the possible symptoms I do have because I have a majority of them. However, I will indicate the major ones I experience.

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Stomach trouble
  • Neuralgia (This is the BIG one right now. Watch this short two minute video about it.)

My diet

We talked about my current diet, or the lack of one. My stomach has been a nervous one for the last few weeks up to this visit (indicated on the chart above), so everything gets it upset. To avoid getting stomach upset, I wasn’t eating. I know. Horrible. Not eating is worse than eating, I get it, but when you’re vomiting, having diarrhea, and major cramps after every meal, you’ll understand what I mean.

Dr. Tom suggested a cleanse of my gut, but cautioned which ones to use because of my current stomach issues. He said to do some research as to which ones would be best for me.

Later, I would ask a friend, a certified holistic nutritionist, and she suggested celery juice for cleansing and also checking for parasites in the gut that may be causing some of the stomach discomfort.( This is a whole other post, and one I’ll write about once I finish these cleanses.)

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image obtained from the Amy Myers MD website

My care plan

At my current state, Dr. Tom suggested the following care plan:

  • visits three times a week for one to two months;
  • visits twice a week for the following one to two months;
  • Visits once per week for four to six months;
  • Progress re-evaluations at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, and 1 year.

Alright, what’s it gonna cost me?!

This is the question everyone is waiting to hear. How much does it all cost? Am I breaking the bank to be seen? In my opinion, no. And I didn’t make this decision lightly.

My husband has been unemployed for one year, only recently gaining employment in February. Trying to catch up on debts while paying current bills is not easy in the least bit. I know adding a cost to our current budget is not ideal, and a decision that should be discussed in detail.

In light of that, I didn’t make a decision that day. I took home the information to talk over with my husband. The previous week I worked on our projected budget for the following month (May). I wrote down a magic number that I was willing to pay and could fit into our projected budget. That number was $180 per month. The cost of the chiropractic visits would be $183 per month. Pretty incredible.

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image obtained from Fort Myers Chiropractic Studio

Before showing the results of the tests, I showed my husband the cost of the visits. He didn’t immediately say no, but he didn’t say okay either. Instead, he asked what I thought. Tim knows I stay on top of my health, and he knows I explore all avenues before leaping in one direction. I’m skeptical of many healing options and he knows my existing hesitation of chiropractors in general. However, he also has heard me say numerous positive things about Dr. Tom, and how we see eye to eye on health in general.

Without a doubt, he knew I had made up my mind about what I wanted to do and by knowing me, he knew I didn’t make that decision without absolute certainty. I told him I wanted to move forward with the care plan and the associated cost of it. Without hesitation, he 100% supported it. He then asked to see the results and what the care plan entailed.

How amazing is he? I’m blessed to have a husband that would trust my decisions and support it without question. I know how rare this is.

After that conversation, I knew I was on the road to healing. Sometimes healing comes from within, and gives us strength to push onward to the next steps in life. Even if the adjustments were rejected by my body or I didn’t feel any different at the end of the year, I was healing. My husband, my best friend, believed in me and that, dear reader, is healing for the soul.

Find out how my body reacts to the adjustment sessions. Be sure to read the rest of this chiropractic care series.

*All names have been changed for privacy.

Brandi Clevinger

A place where I talk about everything and sugar coat nothing.

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