Chiropractors Dick and Unity Lewis

by Derek Lewis
(Dominican Republic)

I am Derek Lewis, eldest son of Unity and Dick Lewis.

I still have my immigration card when I together with my parents returned to South Africa, showing we arrived on the Melville Jacoby in Cape Town on 24-4-1946. It was a 12 passenger cargo ship, and on board was two other SA Chiro brothers returning to East London..( Basil?... help with names..Brian?? ) One had a tricycle for his son, slightly my elder, that I did my best to wear out riding round and round the bridge. Both their sons also became Chiro's but I can't remember their surname. (BRL: Peters)

I know my mother Unity did a year at Pietermaritzburg university, with credits in English and Botany at least. She completed that degree, majoring in English and Psychology, in about 1960 when she would have been about 40 years old. She was a life-long avid gardner, and always knew all the botanical names of everything.

Our father Dick Lewis had a mentor, Brad, who was wealthy and a golf lover. Dad started caddying for him at an early age. I believe our father considered turning pro, playing off a handicap of 3, but I'm sure Brad influenced his decision to become a Chiropractor, and probably payed for at least part of his training.

Dad graduated from Palmer, and was deeply disturbed by their philosophy that everything could be cured by adjusting only the upper neck. (BRL: Hole-in-one treatment). So he went to Lincoln Chiropractic College to broaden his Chiropractic knowledge. I presume as a graduate student, as he wasn't there very long, but long enough to meet our mother, Unity Allsopp. He must have been influenced by his love of and fascination with sports injuries that were then off limits at Palmer, not being pertinent to Chiropractic. Certainly , he always loved treating knees, elbows and other sports injuries that were not technically kosher at the time.

Our parents, Unity and Dick were married on August 24th, 1940 in Marion City Indiana, surely still students, but by Sep 3rd, 1942, when I was born, they had moved to New Haven, Conn, down on the east shore. I visited their home and our neighbours c1978. Somewhere there is a photo of Dick outside his clinic there. It must have been part-time though, as it was during the war and he worked at a famous gun manufacturer. Unity worked for a while as a stitcher on a clothing factory production line. Sewing became another of her life-longing hobbies, making most of her own clothes, and probably influenced me to go into the clothing manufacturing business.

Unity hated the US weather, especially Indiana. Sub zero winters, 100deg F and 100% humidity summers. Hew Haven was not much better. In summer, the Long Island ocean was "like pea soup". She commented one summers day how clear it was. Brian Peters corrected her, saying " You have been out of SA too long and forgotten what a clear day is really like" . It probably wasn't long thereafter they boarded the first available post war ship, and she 'dragged' her our father Dick and me back to 'Sunny South Africa'.

I didn't talk till I was three. Dad took me one day for an ice-cream cone. He must asked if I wanted another, and I spoke my first words... "I'm not greedy. I just like a lot".
In those days, the liquor laws were different. They used to take me with them to the local bar on friday or saturday nights. I used to wander from table to table to friends, who would give a sip of beer sometimes. One night Mom didn't watch closely enough, and I reputedly staggered a little returning to her.

There may be another story here of Brian Peters (?) family. Certainly our histories overlap. One brother practised in PMB, Basil, I think, one son was 2 years ahead of me at Hilton College, and also did Chiro. I think he quit and emigrated to Canada. Then, of course, you and Brian jnr practised together. There may be overlapping anecdotes if we can find a relative living. Quite easy today with names and rough addresses or Facebook

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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