Karen McMinn has been a regular on The Atlas of Life, often commenting throughout the week on various blog posts. She is married to Dr. Richard McMinn, who practices in Hove in East Sussex in the UK. They have 5 kids, all who were born at home and raised with chiropractic care their entire lives.
I thought that as the wife of a chiropractor and mother of 5 kids, Karen could offer some great perspective for readers of The Atlas of Life. I appreciate the time Karen took to answer these questions.
Dr. Brandon Harshe: What has it been like having a chiropractor as a husband?
Karen McMinn: “Richard and I were married in October 1978 and it has been a very special privilege being a “Chiropractic wife and mother.” I have often heard Richard say that if all he ever did was learn Chiropractic to be able to adjust his family to keep them well - it would have been enough! I’m glad there has been so much more, but having our own Chiropractic Family has been and is a great source of inspiration for us both. Richard’s Uncle David, who inspired Richard to enter the profession, was one of the first Chiropractors in New Zealand and we can count thirty five chiropractors within Richard’s extended family since that time.”
Dr. Brandon Harshe: You have five kids, all born naturally. As someone who watched my wife run the gamut of birth experiences, from c-section to unassisted at home, can you tell us how those experiences were for you and your husband?
Karen McMinn: “Richard and I both spent our childhood on farms in the Southern Hemisphere and although I had not been exposed to the idea of chiropractic at that stage I was very interested in the way the natural world worked, having seen many animals being born simply and beautifully. I became pregnant with our first child soon after we were married and thought I had best visit a doctor as that was what most people did. The doctor declared that because I was a very small person I would require a C section to deliver the baby when the time was due. We left the surgery in disgust, determined to find a doctor who would be interested in supporting us in our quest for a homebirth. At this time, homebirth in Western Australia was really in its infancy, however we were very lucky to meet a Dutch lady called Henny Ligtermoet (who was by then in her seventies). She encouraged and inspired us to fight for the opportunity to give birth the way nature intended. We went on to have all five children at home, naturally and beautifully and each child was brought into the world surrounded by those that all ready loved them. It was always a family affair when a new child was being born. We first had four sons and then our daughter was born into the world in front of the open fire in the lounge room (I was using a birthing stool) and into the arms of her waiting family. These moments are so precious and special as I recall them, that it is impossible for me to find words to use.
During that first pregnancy I was determined to read everything I could to prepare myself for this event and during that time I read a book called Childbirth Without Fear, by Dr Grantly Dick-Read, which I found invaluable. Knowing I was also preparing my body by having regular Chiropractic adjustments (weekly) and Eating Well, Moving Well and Thinking Well it gave me confidence to trust the process. It never ceased to amaze me the number of people who found it important to tell you all sorts of gruesome stories about childbirth! My mother was shocked when I told her what we planned to do and she said I had been brainwashed! and recounting her less than optimal experiences and all the propaganda she had been fed, I could understand why she and many others thought the way they did. I thought it was a good thing that all the nonsense I had heard and inherited about childbirth was actually washed from my brain and I had the opportunity to fill it with positive, satisfying thoughts and images to promote a successful outcome.”
Dr. Brandon Harshe: How have you seen chiropractic affect your family over the years?
Karen McMinn: “Our children:
Trent – 30
Damon – 28
Jeremy – 26
Sherman – 24
Elise – 22
I can’t imagine what our experience would have been like without the benefit of living a Chiropractic and Natural First Lifestyle. We only ever (like most parents) wanted the best for our children and our motto was ” Chiropractic first, drugs second, surgery last”. We only ever got as far as the Chiropractic first bit because the children have never been to a medical doctor for anything, so there were never any drugs, and even to this day our children always make finding a Chiropractor, (wherever they are living in the world), top priority. They have also learned (through experience) that they are ultimately responsible for their health by the choices they make which is extremely empowering. There was an interesting incident when our daughter was about five years old and she came home from kindergarten and asked me what doctors and nurses were! I was really taken aback and responded that she should know, and as the words came out of my mouth I realised she would have no reason to know, because it was never a topic of conversation in our home. Not deliberately – it was just that we always discussed self responsibility and accountability in regard to everything and health was a part of that. Our eldest son was thirteen at that time and I was “gobsmacked” when it registered that indeed none of the children had actually ever been to a doctor.
There was a time when we had all five children at home as teenagers and people would often ask us how we coped with a house full of hormones but you may be surprised to learn that our children did not seem to have the mood swings often attributed to teenagers. That is no surprise to us as we know that the nervous system controls and co-ordinates every other cell, tissue, muscle, gland and organ in the entire body and therefore the manufacture of hormones in the body will be influenced by a fully functioning nervous system.”
Dr. Brandon Harshe: What do your kids think of chiropractic?
Karen McMinn: “Although none of the boys have followed in Richard’s footsteps, our daughter, Elise has recently begun her Chiropractic studies at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic in Auckland after completing a degree in Anthropology and Cultural Studies at Sussex University here in Brighton, UK. Our children all recognise they have had a privileged upbringing in regard to health after living and working with many who don’t have it nor have any interest in preserving what they do have!”
Dr. Brandon Harshe: How long have you and your husband been in England? Where did your husband practice before that?
Karen McMinn: Richard and I have been in Brighton, UK since 2001. It was during 2001 that a registration board was set up here in the UK to regulate the profession. We were shocked at the lack of public awareness of Chiropractic here in this country when we arrived – due in part to the profession not being regulated. Confusion still abounds as the Chiropractic Colleges in this country are devoid of philosophy, so the prevailing understanding about chiropractic is as a mechanistic model – this was the reason we set up chiropracticlifeblog.com so that we could begin to educate the local public about the benefits of “true Chiropractic.”
Prior to coming to the UK we were living in New Zealand for five years and prior to that we were in Western Australia. Our international moves were prompted by family.
Dr. Brandon Harshe: Recently, the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) in England ruled that the vertebral subluxation was historical and not factual, essentially prohibiting chiropractors from using the term in public. How has this affected your practice?
Karen McMinn: “The recent GCC ruling has had no effect on our practice at all – certainly none that we are aware of. Unfortunately many feel the GCC are not fit to govern the profession and there is a growing movement (among the enlightened Chiropractic community) which is gathering momentum to fight back. Nothing is ever quite as it seems, people have hidden agendas which are mostly not in the best interests of the rest of the population. Truth eventually wins. It has been said that All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident! We are “somewhere” along this timeline of events!.”
Dr. Brandon Harshe: What are some of the changes patients in your clinic have experienced during the course of their chiropractic care?
Karen McMinn: “Over the years I have been touched by the many chiropractic miracles we have seen – every patient who has their nervous system restored to health is a miracle in itself. We specialise by serving small miracles every day in our clinic. Probably the greatest miracle to me is to see people begin to understand that they have within themselves the capacity to attain health by taking responsibility for it. It is such a pleasure to help coach people who have had “the light switched on”. Although I could write about many different Chiropractic miracles over the years I prefer to refer to the hundreds of testimonials which recently helped us to be voted Most Loved Chiropractic Clinic In The Whole Of The United Kingdom by BestOf.”
Dr. Brandon Harshe: With the GCC doing away with vertebral subluxation and the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) now wanting prescription rights, where do you see the future of the chiropractic profession heading in England?
Karen McMinn: “Maybe it would help to use a crystal ball to see where the Chiropractic profession is heading here in the UK! Maybe not! Irregardless of circumstances there will always be those prepared to follow B.J. Palmer when he said “I will sell Chiropractic, serve Chiropractic, and save Chiropractic if it will take me twenty lifetimes to do it. I will promote it within the law, without the law, in keeping with the law or against the law in order to get sick people well and keep the well from getting sick.”