When the UK Government declared a lockdown response to COVID-19, many households looked ahead with a mixture of dread, anticipated boredom, frustration and panic. But for some of us, what seemed like some kind of soft prison sentence has in fact turned out to be our golden hour. It’s been an unanticipated opportunity to re-find time, invest back into self, discover old talents and treasures, and reconnect in more meaningful ways not only to those around us, but to ourselves. Doug might not have started this journey with the impending dread many of us felt, but he’s certainly had his fair share of life challenges which, consequently, have enabled him to explore and enjoy an optimistic quarantine experience. In our series “When Our Worst Leads to Our Best” we explore how moments of challenge and friction can in fact lead us to the most remarkable moments of positive self-discovery…
Once upon a time Doug was a chef running his own restaurant. Not just any chef, but one of coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand status. They were heady, high-octane days when every ounce of available energy and mental dexterity went into the kitchen. As Michelin-rated chefs have been known to say; maintaining that level of skill, stardom and status can be a death sentence.
A Christmas eve dinner party and an unexpected massage table
Yes, it’s not the kind of words that usually go together in the one sentence, you’re right. One normally goes to Christmas eve parties expecting bubbles and crackling, as opposed to bubbles and, well, a cracking. That’s exactly what happened to Doug when his hostess, a chiropractor, pulled out a massage table and commenced treating everyone. With a few manipulations and surprise cracks Doug felt an immediate tension release from his body. The stress of his busiest period of the year ebbed away and he left the party feeling like he’d taken some kind of happy drug. He’d just experienced his first chiropractic session and he was hooked.
A career change
Some of us might encounter that kind of experience and resolve to spend the rest of our lives in an infinite looping appointment. Not Doug. He decided to become a chiropractor. He enrolled in a pre-medical course from which he graduated with 90% marks. He could have then chosen to fast-track a GP career, but he stuck to his guns and pursued chiro studies. In Doug’s mind, classic Western medicine wasn’t committed to finding the core of the problem. It’s partly why he has such an aversion to the concept of ‘painkillers’. In Doug’s mind, they don’t kill pain, they just hide it. The real problem still lurks. For Doug, chiropractic therapy is all about building a better, stronger you; it’s a logical, pragmatic approach to healing. Twelve years years later, Dr Doug now runs two practices, Sussex Spin Care and has some of the highest levels of public patient ratings in the UK.
Life in lockdown
When COVID-19 resulted in home lockdown, Doug didn’t focus on the negatives. That said he was - and remains - deeply concerned for those in challenging and dangerous domestic situations. A former child of domestic abuse, Doug has suffered assaults at home, but has also witnessed assaults take place on loved ones around him. He knows what it’s like to present to emergency workers and explain that you’re black and blue from having fallen down the stairs.
From his own present-day vantage, however, Doug is deeply thankful of his and his wife’s current circumstances. If it had happened even three years ago, it would have been an entirely different story. Starting up a new business, dealing with a mortgage, and other unexpected life surprises that threw financial hardships his way, Doug was under inordinate levels of stress and financial strain. He eventually came through it all, and it made him feel that he was going to be able to handle anything life might rocket propel his way again. For example, a global pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Now he’s got that resilience, like many others he sees this experience as a bit of a blessing in disguise.
Doug the street entertainer
A musician at heart, Doug has always been involved in bands. Every now and again at a gig his wife would join them on stage for a song. They’d have good fun. Now they’re in lockdown, the two have turned to music most days and started to jam. The other week they held their first street party. They designed posters, printed them off at home and placed them in all the nearby mailboxes. An ode to the 80s it was a huge success, with all neighbours hitting their garden-come-dancefloors and having a brilliant time. Two sisters aged 87 and 91 even came out to bust some moves from their wheelchairs. The entertainers have now been booked as a result, and they’re looking forward to performing at the 50th down the road once life returns to normal.
Time for a relationship and time to read
Doug and his wife have been filling their lockdown days talking. Not so much conversations about where the missing sock from the wash might be, but proper, chunky, interesting, insightful conversations. Undistracted, they’ve had real time to give to one another. They’ve also had time to read. Doug can’t count the number of books he’s been enjoying.
Doug and Lola
There’s another female on the scene. Before you think this is going to get awkward, it’s Lola the family dog. One of three Brazilian rescue dogs brought over to the UK by his wife, Lola is the last remaining. Sadly, however, her time is coming to an end. Doug has been incredibly grateful for the gift of constant companionship these past several weeks. He’s delighted to spend quality time with Lola knowing she doesn’t have much longer.
Time to recoup
He would never have admitted it, but Doug probably needed this rest. Chiropractic therapy is taxing work. It’s intensely physical, but also highly demanding mentally and emotionally given Doug is so empathetic towards his clients. Back in pre-COVID-19 land, it wasn’t unusual for Doug to see up to 100 patients a week. He’d come home exhausted and have enough capacity for some mindless TV and that was it. The television is hardly on these days.
Doug the runner
Before lockdown, Doug ran a half marathon. He’d agreed to train for and compete in it with a mate. However, unfortunately for Doug he had a knee problem that flared up the moment he started pounding the pavement. He has his football career days to thank for the injury. Back when he was earning a colossal £12 a week playing for his local club, he was pretty relentless on his body, and he’s played ever since (just without that degree of financial incentive!). Every time he tried to start half marathon training, his knee would pack in. He began to research and decided collagen was in part the answer. Unsure of whether bovine or marine would work for him, Doug in fact opted for both. He also started acupuncture. In time, the knee pain abated and Doug was able to run further and further, until he did indeed run right up to the half marathon finishing line. It’s given him a fantastic base for running daily during lockdown, and for the meditative effect it has on him. He’s now up to 16 miles a week, which he achieves across three to four outings. He freely admits he is now happily “one of those people” at whom he used to look with equal parts disbelief and amusement.
Doug’s collagen combo smoothie
So what’s in Doug’s recipe? It’s surprisingly easy:
- A few handfuls of spinach
- Half an avocado
- Half a banana
- A cup of oat milk
- A pint of water
- Dried greens
- One tablespoon of Edible Health Bovine Powder Supplement
- One tablespoon of Edible Health Marine Powder Supplement
- Blend and drink
Every day without fail Doug enjoys this drink and every day his body feels like it needs it. His wife also mixes a blend and he recommends the supplements to all his patients, because he knows they want the best for their health. Speaking of which, Doug knows these isolation days won’t last forever and he’ll be back helping his patients be their best. He’s thankful for this unusual opportunity to ground himself and reconnect, but he’s fresh, ready and looking forward to a new routine, albeit one that will no doubt be adapting to a changing world.
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