Circa April 2011: Thanks for checking in. It`s Brian Gancheff here. I`m excited to tell you about “Dr Hands.” That’s me on the left and next to me is Deb Anderson, my former sister in law. Next is Melanie Anderson, my former wife, current business partner and Deb`s sister. Both are key to this story. On the right is Ernesto Gusman, a waiter at the Mision Colima Hotel and a friend. This week’s blog is about our personal experience with Dr Hands and Pain Relief!
ManzAmigos serves up more than great Dinners!
The story starts here during a Thursday evening dinner of the Manzamigos Social group. This is a group of about 200 expats from all over the world who share a love of being in Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico. We vacation or live full or part-time in Colima. The group devotes time and energy to do volunteer and charitable work throughout the State. Each week about 30+ people from the group also enjoy a night out. The faces at dinner change every week. Those who live here full time usually come 1-2 a month. Those of us who vacation usually make each Thursday we`re here.
This week it’s at La Pergola Restaurant and I`ve just thoroughly enjoyed Wienerschnitzel, carrot cake and cappuccino. Deb and Melanie are looking happy with their meals and conversation. Bills are being distributed and people are beginning to say their farewells.
Grace, on vacation from London, England stands to speak. She says farewell and informs everyone that she and her husband Niles are leaving for Britain in the morning.
The Dr Hands Story unfolds!
She goes on to say how badly she feels that she didn`t contact Dr Hands during their two-week stay. A fellow at my table promises to pass along their best wishes during his appointment on Tuesday. She quickly says, “thanks but please don`t because then he`ll know we were here and didn`t come by.”
I comment that Dr Hands is a very interesting name and ask Grace what kind of medicine he practices. She sits back down and begins the tale. Two years ago she and Niles were introduced to him. She says people refer to him as Dr Alfredo but that many patients affectionately call him Dr Hands. I’ll use both names interchangeably.
Lots of Company seeking Pain Relief in Manzanillo
Grace explains they were both suffering from significant physical problems. She with severe neck pain and Niles with restless leg syndrome and shooting pains in both legs. One of several Manzamigos who had seen Dr Hands told them to make an appointment. They see him three times each in the next 10 days.
She enthusiastically shares that during the long flight home they realize they are pain-free. I ask if they still feel that way. Niles says he sees Dr Alfredo at times for other pain relief but hasn`t experienced leg pain again. Grace says she feels wonderful and resumed tennis following treatment. She says her neck prevented her from playing for three years. “That`s why I feel so bad about not calling Dr Hands this trip,” she says.
I ask the 8-10 people in close proximity if they`ve seen him and am amazed that all but one hand goes up. Melanie, Deb and I are staring at each other. We know an appointment for each of us is assured. One member, Gerry says he`ll contact Dr Hands tomorrow and tell him to expect my call and passes along his number.
The DR in Dr Hands is a Compliment from Patients
Dr Alfredo points out clearly that the designation of “Dr” is a complimentary title from his patients. He introduces himself as Jose. He has a degree in Kinesiology and is a licensed Wholelistic Chiropractor, Physiotherapist and Massage Therapist. The degrees are framed and hung in the office but most are too high for me to read.
Making a List and Checking it Twice
I had back surgery in 2008 to scrape arthritis of L4-5 discs. At the time I was experiencing problems similar to what Niles described. While on shift at WestJet Airlines my right leg went completely numb. It was diagnosed as `drop-foot` when admitted to Foothills Hospital an hour later. Surgery followed in 2 days. My surgeon in Calgary, Dr Ganesh Swamey, told me how serious it could have been if I hadn`t received immediate care. I feel good therefore I’ll be more of a gawker than a patient.
Deb is currently waiting for a date for major back surgery to eradicate stenosis. She suspects her job behind a computer in Oil & Gas is a primary factor. She is eager and more than willing to give Dr Hand`s hands a shot. Melanie’s main concern is with her feet (I’m 2nd). She is seeking pain relief from severe bunions. We are looking forward to meeting this doctor and judging the results for ourselves.
Pain Relief found in a Most Unlikely Place
I call and make back to back appointments for Deb and me. Travel directions provided by Dr Alfredo are simple. “Drive to the Catholic Church in Las Brisas and I will meet you there,” he instructs. His greeting is warm, and we walk the last two blocks to the office in front of him so he can observe us. It takes five minutes to reach his office which turns out is also his home.
You see his home/office in the banner photo and left. Not for the faint of heart! Items sitting around include old cd players, backpacks, stacks of magazines and even a still-wrapped toilet seat. I credit Deb and take a little bow myself as neither of us even make eye contact with the other, signalling any intent to get up and leave!
The Team Approach works well
Dr Alfredo asks Deb to stand and walks around her making observations and asking questions. He remarks that she will require the operation for the stenosis but that there are other areas that need attention with which he can help. Dr Hands asks for Deb`s permission to include me in the assessment.
She agrees and he hands me a meter stick asking me to judge the levels of her shoulders, hips and shoulder blades by placing the stick against these areas. In doing so it is very obvious the levels in each area differ quite a bit. Dr Alfredo explains that Deb’s body is badly out of alignment. Over 2-3 sessions he says he will help her regain body balance and reduce stress on her spine. “My tongue is giving the inside of my mouth quite a workout!!”
I sit and watch Deb’s near 4-hour treatment. She, in turn, helps assess me and stays during my 2-hour treatment. I ask Dr Alfredo why there was a difference in our session time? He replies, “we go until the body will make no further improvement on the day.” There is no chiropractic cracking, no disrobing nor laying on a table.
The Process will Giggle our Disks and Boggle your Mind
The treatment is a rapid succession of deep massage of pressure points. He uses his knuckles, elbows and a selection of small wooden implements we assume are just for these treatments.
Dr Hands constantly pulls and cracks the joints of each of his fingers. He briskly and repeatedly slaps his arms and legs expending an enormous amount of energy using a hand towel to wipe his sweating brow. Rapidly rubbing his hands together, he places his warm palms on the affected areas.
Every couple of minutes during treatment we walk back and forth across the room while he observes. We and Dr Alfredo drink water constantly yet none of us expresses a need for a washroom break.
It’s astounding considering that Deb’s treatment continues at this incredible pace for close to four hours and mine an additional two!!
Recommendations and Results
Deb and I pay 700 pesos each for our treatment ($70 Cdn) and scheduled follow-ups for two days later. We walk the two blocks to the car talking about my comfort and Deb’s lack of pain. We can’t wait to share the whole experience with Melanie.
Melanie sees Dr Hands with her troubled bunions next day and in two visits they are gone from her feet and have not returned. Need I explain how much she loves the Doctor?
I have a few friends dealing with pain and have encouraged them to see Dr Alfredo. When a request comes from Canada he asks that any x-rays, MRI data or medical reports be sent to him for review before spending money to travel to Colima. After review, he has invited some to come. For others, he explains that their issues are beyond his scope and believes only surgery may achieve the relief they seek.
Good friend, Carl Taylor suffered from a painful, swollen right ankle and calf for years as a result of a severed Achilles tendon. I sit with him during his 2011, 3-hour session with Dr Alfredo. We leave and I ask how he’s feeling. He is frank, saying he has no pain relief. He chooses not to return for a follow-up as suggested. Two weeks later back in Canada Carl calls to tell me the inflammation and the pain is gone. Just this past Wednesday he told friends at lunch this story saying that neither the swelling or pain has ever returned.
A friend, Keith Siggins from Calgary sees Dr Alfredo suggested by a mutual friend. Keith recently told me that he feels the one treatment he had did not improve his condition and regrets that his vacation schedule didn’t allow for more treatments.
And He tells a Friend and She tells a Friend…
Dale Arnold and his wife, Jan from Ottawa did make the trip seeking pain relief from his lower back and neck. Both were severely affecting his sleep, enjoyment of life including work, recreation and play time with grandchildren. Dale provides MRI results to Dr Hands and meets with him for three sessions.
His wife sits in, with some hesitation, on all sessions. Dale`s two block walk to the church after the initial treatment is the first walk of any length in over two years where he’s been pain-free. While his body weight hasn`t actually changed, Jan says Dale looks like he`s lost 30 pounds because of his improved stature. He’s resumed being the active guy he always enjoyed. He’s sent two friends to see Dr Hands and reports that both are very happy with the results.
I highly value the integrity, ability and manner that Dr Hands uses when dealing with my friends and me. As I’ve heard him say several times, “there are no guarantees in life.” Granted, his methods are unconventional, his office sparse but we’ve seen him provide much-needed pain relief and long-term improvements for our friends and for us, first hand. Deb, Melanie and I are so happy we heard Grace share her story!
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