In this episode, Liz Hoefer is joined by a patient of hers named Ali,…
Sometimes, the journey to healing is not quick and easy. Discover how tattoo artist Paul Hernandez found healing from his excruciating low back pain through the Blair chiropractic care with Liz Hoefer at Well Connected Chiropractic. He details his past life that lacked good posture, ridden with sciatica problems, and the internal battle with anxiety attacks. Paul dives deep into how a simple chiropractic process brought him back from PTSD-like thoughts and how his new self changed the course of his professional career and daily lifestyle forever.
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Slow And Steady – A Journey Of Healing Low Back Pain
Real Talk With Paul Hernandez, A Tattoo Artist Who Has Had Success With Blair Chiropractic
I’m excited about my guest. We’re going to talk and shop. I’m excited for you to read this guy’s story. I want to welcome to the show, Paul Hernandez. How are you, Paul?
I’m great. Thank you.
How are you feeling?
I’m in a lot of pain because I fell moving from my old apartment to my new apartment. My back messed up, but the night it happened, I had you come over and adjust me. I had a massage the next day. It’s slowly getting better, but I need to take some self-time to get up.
You did have a gnarly fall. It was intense. You got into a fight with the rosebush.
The fall hit my sciatica nerve hard that I didn’t even notice I fell on a rosebush until my friend told me afterward.
What’s interesting about that is even though you hurt your back when the fall happened, your neck did not go out of alignment.
I thought I did some serious damage to myself when I did that fall, but you never said that I had anything crazy. It seems everything held together still, which is shocking because it hurts badly.
How have you felt working since the move?
On the chair, tattooing, I’m fine. I’m the kind of person where when I move into a new place, I like to get everything situated up and going. I’ve been like a crowd kid in getting everything together, nonstop lifting things, and doing probably a lot more work than I should have, especially after that fall like that. I’m still a little sore. Before that, I was doing good until my little fall.We live in a society nowadays where everything needs to be fixed now. Click To Tweet
Let’s talk about that because your journey is incredible to me. We met a few years ago, and I was introduced to you by my husband because he came to you to get a tattoo, and you were suffering. Tell the readers about what was going on because I want them to know.
It was around the beginning of winter of 2017. I was tattooing your husband. Our conversation started where I started talking about my history of having sciatica issues with a disc bulge in my L4-L5, all the chiropractors, massage therapies that I’ve had done, and still continue to have back problems and excessive anxiety. He told me about how you were a chiropractor. I was like, “I’ve seen quite a few. I’m at the point where I don’t want to waste any more of my money on anyone else.” It’s like, “She’s good and she’s around the corner. People come from far to see her.” I was like, “I don’t know, maybe.” It’s hard because I put the effort in already to see other chiropractors 4 or 5 times a week, driving far distances to go get work done.
Through all the chiropractic work that I had done, I noticed that the more the chiropractors that were leaning towards the neck area of their adjustments were the ones that were seeing better results with stuff. When he was explaining to me what your theory was on how you fix people, it made sense to me. I gave it a shot, went down and the X-ray you took was crazy. I started seeing you. You saw how crooked I was. I had a T-shirt on and I could stand tall, but if I took my T-shirt off, you’d see how crooked my spine was. A lot of people thought, “You have scoliosis.” It was like, “No, it’s not scoliosis because I’ve been perfectly fine my whole life.” Out of nowhere around 2015, my back went haywire, sciatic nerve pinching. I continued to work for a long time tattooing in very bad positions. I didn’t realize how important posture it was, even during that time when my back was bad.
With my lack of good posture, dealing with sciatica, it made my back muscles seize up and lock up for a good year. I was walking like Quasimodo The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was super bad. Finally, it started releasing a little bit. I was getting better but not significantly when I saw you, I noticed a huge difference in the first 30 days. At first, I didn’t realize that the adjustment you gave did anything. I remember laying there for 45 minutes going, “Does she even do anything? The adjustment wasn’t even anything compared to the other cracks and snaps that I’ve had on my neck before by other guys where you can feel it, hear it, and it’s intense.”
When I had gotten up from the table laying down, I noticed this weird pressure on the back of my neck, almost like a hand was cupping it. I was like, “What the heck is that feeling? I’ve never felt that way before.” I remember asking the people at the counter, “Is it normal to have this weird pressure right here?” They’re like, “That’s probably because the adjustment opened up a lot of blood flow to your brain and it’s flowing through.” I was like, “That’s crazy.” I almost thought nothing and second-guessing what had happened in that room. I was like, “Maybe nothing happened,” and something happens. I can feel it.
The correction that he’s referring to is the Blair adjustment. It’s gentle, specific, and it’s almost anti-climactic because we have to do a lot of imaging and precise calculation. We do a big exam to tailor, make that correction for that patient. The other thing that was complicating the issue that day I vividly remember is that you were almost in tears from panic.
I had a lot of extreme anxiety. To sit there and get X-rays done, I remember looking at you, “You have to do it real fast because my anxiety was racing.” My palms are sweaty, just to have made it around the corner. Everything I did in life was a huge stepping stone to be able to do anything. Going and checking the mail or walking my dog was a huge defeat. I couldn’t go to the grocery store for a long time. I couldn’t walk around the grocery store at all. Not only if I walked a little, I would start hurting bad where I almost wanted to get in one of those little scooters and do that because I felt I was in that much pain, plus on top of it, the anxiety levels would kick in and it was bad.
Would you say that the pain proceeded the anxiety or was it the other way around?
I honestly have no clue. My anxiety started a few months before the back issues started, but as the back issues got worse, so did my anxiety. I don’t know if they have to do with each other or they’re two separate things still, but they both improved a lot. I go to the grocery store now on my own. I’ll go to the far end, I’ll walk wherever I need to walk.
Do you even have to think about going to the store before you had to gear yourself up for it?
I don’t think twice about it. I get in the car. I’m like, “I’m going to the grocery store.” I jumped in the car and go. I don’t think when I’m on the far end of the store I was like, “Holy crap, I made it this far.”
That’s what’s cool about the transformation. It hasn’t been quick and isn’t 100% because I know that you’re still not comfortable driving far away or getting on an airplane. I know that day will come, but the fact that you were able to get in your car at one point and drive outside of the city you lived in. To get in your car from your apartment because I used to come to your apartment to check you because you couldn’t even come back to the office. I was lucky to get you there.
I was dreading it. My anxiety was bad. Some people who dealt with this stuff like me almost developed a PTSD-style of trauma to the anxiety. Even though they might feel like they’re getting better, they’re too afraid to make the step because they already have that muscle memory in the brain that you’ve already tried this, and it’s going to go bad. It goes bad every other time. The fear comes on, and then it triggers the anxiety again. It’s crazy. A lot of my friends will be like, “You need to try this.” I did for years. I tried to do things to get myself out of my comfort zone, and it slung me back.
It wasn’t until at one point I don’t think I even realized how much better I was already getting mentally until one day, I went to try again. My anxiety was so much better when I decided to get out of the house this one particular time, and I felt better. I avoided the freeway going to where our location was that we went to the shooting range. When I was coming back, I felt so free that I jumped on the freeway and drove. I was looking at my roommate, “Do you want to go to the beach? Let’s go to the beach. I wanted to go all these places now because I felt lifted from so much fear of living.”
To say that it’s 100% gone, no, it’s not. I still struggle sometimes. I’ll be sitting there working and all of a sudden, some anxiety hits me but it’s a huge change. I have a lot of friends and family that are like, “It’s crazy how much you’ve gotten better. You’re doing this, you’re doing that.” To me, it’s been real slow progress. I have to step back and look at it and go, “My life did change crazy.” It’s been so slow watching it that sometimes I don’t see it even though I do see it. It’s like you and your new puppy. You may sit there and go, “He looks the same size to me,” but other people are going, “No. I see the weight he’s gaining. He’s getting bigger.”
Same thing with my situation. When I stepped back and looked at it, I’m like, “A lot has changed, I see a lot of forwarding movement that I still need to make.” Maybe that’s what I am to where I need to be. I have made a lot of strides. You could go to all these other chiropractors that are doing all these snapping around and do all this stuff that you think would work, and it doesn’t. I remember the last chiropractor I saw and he said, “I can only get you 80%. I don’t know why the last 20% your body doesn’t want to shift anymore. I don’t know what to do.”
I almost lost it. I was like, “This sucks because I’m spending all this money, effort, time, and driving out all the way from RSM to Newport, and he’s telling me he can’t get me any better. He’s supposed to be this miracle worker.” I’m getting massages weekly and it helped a lot. It’s everything, chiropractic work, massage therapy, eating healthier. I remember when I was eating clean, I felt a lot of inflammation leave my body. I could get up in the morning like an 80-year-old man making it to the restroom. I would spring out of bed and start mobbing around. The moment I started eating unhealthy again, I started knowing all the inflammation coming back. It’s a slice of the pie of the healing process. Everything plays its part.
That’s why I wanted you to come on and tell your story because I know that the foundation of having your structure and alignment is the key, and then because you’re in alignment, your body can move better, because your body moves better, you want to eat healthier. It’s because you’re in alignment, you’re assimilating that nutrients in a more effective way. It’s a piece of the puzzle, and in my opinion, it’s the foundation. On the outside looking in, I think back a few years ago when you were basically a shut-in. I would bring my table to you. Now you can pop into the office. There could be people there or not there, and you’re like, “I’m here to get checked.” If you fall, you can text me, and I can come over because I knew you were in the middle of moving. I’m like, “I’ve got to help you.” I can bring my table over and check you.
Remarkably, you’ve had one Blair Upper Cervical correction. The one and only was in October of 2017. You’ve had a lot of life happen. It’s not like you haven’t had other injuries that have occurred and all the different things you’ve walked through. For me looking from the outside in, it’s not even the same life. There’s no comparison to where you were when I met you, to where you are now. In my head, “I don’t have to wonder if I call Paul, ‘Is he going to be terrified to even leave his house?’” That’s not even a question.
There are times I’m scared that it may come back again like that. That’s the trauma that I’ve told you about the fear of living. Sometimes I’m like, “It’s too good.” There’s got to be a day when I wake up, and I slingshot myself back to the beginning because it’s happened before, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.If you don’t try, you’re going to be in the same spot forever. Click To Tweet
That’s the thing about post-traumatic stress and having the trauma. It’s not just a physical thing. It’s a mental, emotional, spiritual situation. There are different triggers that we all walkthrough. Being able to identify it and recognize it, and then when you start to feel that way, adjusting how you’re walking in your situation, maybe you do need to clean up your food, get a massage, chill out if you’re doing too much, but how has this impacted your ability to work? Now, you don’t have to just be in your apartment. You go to your studio.
My anxiety had gotten so bad that the shop I was working at for years, I branched off and created my own tattoo studio in my house in RSM because I couldn’t get in the car and drive to work anymore. I could still work if it came to me. Even then, sometimes there were times that I go on the bed that it was bad. I was working from home for a few years. When I went and started doing all these, out of nowhere, when my anxiety got lifted off of me, and I went with my roommate to the shooting range at the time, and right after that, it was like night and day. Things started changing, and I started getting out more. I’ve made many attempts before to do these things, but I knew I was waiting for my body to tell me that it was okay to do it.
I knew in me forcing my body, and my mind was going to traumatize me more. I was waiting for that moment when it was saying, “It’s okay. You’re good.” I was waiting for it. It’s because I was scared to do anything, I stayed in the house most of the time and only lived within a certain comfort zone. Finally, when I decided to test it one more time, my body was in that state of the realm where it was like, “You’re good.” After that, I was doing anything I could to test the waters and see how deep I can get in the pool. At that point, I had to get out of that city and I felt like I was stuck physically there for good.
I was living there for six years but working from home for three years, it felt like a mental prison in a weird way. I then moved away. I’m back at the shop again. Before I could only work 2, 3, 4 hours at the very most, I’d be crawling to my car, shaking to get my keys in the door to lay on the couch and die for hours until I can get up and crawl to the bathroom. Now, I’m working 8 or 10 hours if I wanted to. I might be a little sore. Who’s not going to be sore after working that long? I don’t care if you got back issues or not. You’re going to be sore. I can do it, I can get up the next day and do it again.
I can come home. I can walk the dog. That helps a lot too. For walking my dog in the morning and at night before I can have a chance to get up, and be lazy right off the bat, it gets me up and gets me going. It gets my body going, my legs, the muscle, everything waking up so I can start the day. It’s weird because I always look at it like it’s a chore to do it, but I started looking at it as more of rehabilitation for myself instead of a chore. Most of the time, I’m excited to walk because I know it’s going to benefit me also.
Sometimes you’re tired. The key thing in that statement is that you changed your mindset. Instead of, “I have to walk my dog,” you chose to look it as a gift to your body and to your pet.
I get to do it. I don’t have to go to the grocery store anymore. I get to go to the grocery store. Everything that you feel that you take for granted, I don’t anymore.
Your mindset has been changed. Physically you’ve improved, also, mentally, emotionally, financially. It’s all good. I’m proud and excited to have been on this journey with you. I wanted people to read your story because it’s not like you were magically cured, and one adjustment healed your mind. It happened to me for sure, but it’s also important for people to read real people tell their real journey, and that it is a process, but it’s worth doing. It’s exciting to know that seemingly nondramatic adjustment years ago made such a huge difference in your life.
We live in a society nowadays where everything needs to be fixed now. Things need to happen now for us. I won’t lie, maybe I was in that mentality. When you’re in that much pain, all you want is for it to be gone right now. I’m not trying to be selfish. I don’t want to be in pain. When you do this stuff, people will post YouTube videos of things happening instantly like, “They adjusted them and they got me like no pain, no worry.” You’re like, “I don’t know. Is that real?” Maybe it is and maybe in some cases, some people are in that much crucial need of an adjustment that is a life-changing thing.
I’m not saying that I wasn’t in that big of an adjustment, but it wasn’t something that was vital to my body that it had affects instantly. In a weird way, it did with the blood flow. It takes time. You got to start changing things. You got to start looking at, “How do I eat? Am I active? Do I get up and stretch here and there?” We’re getting older. When I was like fifteen, I could go skateboard off these stairs, tumble, jumped back up and do those stairs again. If I fall moving my apartment, I’m out for the count for days now. It’s different. Our bodies are different.
One of the principles of chiropractic is that all processes take time. I’m often heard saying, “It takes time to become dysfunctional and heal.” When we encounter trauma, we have to get it fixed. It was cool to be able to check you that same day and have your neck not go out of alignment and be able to get you back on the road to healing. I know the next time I check you, it will be like, “I forgot I fell.” That’s how it goes with the healing. We peel these layers off. It’s like an onion. The layers are getting peeled off, and soon, you’re not crying anymore because it’s all gone. I appreciate you, Paul, for taking the time to come on, talk about your journey and about your progress with the Blair upper cervical work. Is there any advice that you would want to share with anyone who’s maybe thinking that they don’t maybe know or believe that this could be a thing for them?
You don’t know until you try. I watched a movie and it said, “You’ll never know if you don’t do anything about it.” You have to try. If you don’t try, you’re going to be in the same spot forever. Nothing is going to change. You’re constantly going to have to try. I gave everything to try, and that’s why I’m in the position I’m in now because I decided to give it a try. I tried all these other things, and it didn’t work, then I’d finally tried this, and it did work along with anything else.
I never dieted. I didn’t say dieting but eating clean. I never ate clean before. Not until you get older, you realize you start eating clean too. Don’t give up, don’t get things that you have one adjustment, and you’re going to walk out doing handsprings, and it isn’t going to happen. You’ve got to stay diligent and persevere through it. You’re going to have a hard time. If you do it and stick with it, you’re going to see the good results. You’re not going to have any results if you just sit there and complain the whole time.
Perseverance is what you’re talking about. You’re saying that if you stay the course and work through the process, eventually you’ll get the results. It just takes time.
There are times I felt like, “I’m feeling good,” then some months were like, “I’m hurting bad,” then some months were good. It was up now until I believe that it gives the point where it starts, those waters start calming down, and then you can allow the body to start doing what it needs to do.
Thank you so much for given the real talk and letting people know it’s possible to get better. I appreciate your time and look forward to checking in with you soon. I’m going to have to see you to make sure your back is feeling better.
A couple of Ibuprofens here and there, then it won’t hurt.
I appreciate you. Thanks for coming on the show. With that, I’m going to say thanks for reading. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please do not hesitate to get ahold of me at WellConnectedChiro.com. If you want to know more about the Blair Chiropractic technique, you can get all of the answers on my website. Until next time, take care.
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