To What End?
Where Joy and Practice Lives
Sometimes the worst thing that happens to you is the best thing that happens to you.
Approximately two years ago I was speaking at the MAC spring annual chiropractic convention. It was not my first time speaking in Michigan and, as always, I felt warmly received there. That weekend marked my tenth-year anniversary of unlocking secrets behind the condition known as Frozen Shoulder Syndrome. It was this discovery that pushed me into the international spotlight as a chiropractor.
I’ve enjoyed some of the coolest speaking gigs in my beloved profession. These discoveries were highlighted in the movie “Doctored” in 2012. This work opened the door to the world for me. On this particular afternoon, I had a crowd of a couple hundred doctors gathered around me, watching me do my thing! It was awesome! I remember looking up feeling total harmony with my audience, and my sense of purpose was gleaming.
I travel with a team of top-notch doctors who help me keep and teach high levels of patient care. For a period of time my team had separated the herd of DC attendees into small groups and were demonstrating “One to Zero” (OTZ) style adjusting. I looked on to what I had created and felt great joy. As the formal instruction period concluded, the audience began to thin. Several doctors stayed around to take some selfie’s and ask some questions.
I was exhausted as I am after many of my lectures. The room seemed to get warm very quickly. I was drenched in sweat. My ribs behind my left scapula were aching. Then, my jaw began to ache. I was having a heart attack. My team, and close personal friends Patricia McCord, Louie D’Amico and Mike Hall, quickly rushed me into a cab and over to the Henry Ford Emergency Center. Wow, talk about your day changing directions in a real hurry.
In my first hours doctors had determined that I had a blockage in my left anterior descending coronary artery, the “widow maker”. Luckily I’m not married. I was transported to Henry Ford Hospital in downtown Detroit. There I awaited a procedure to have a stent open the occluded artery, first up the next morning. It was a frightening night. The staff there was top notch, which eased the anxiety.
I don’t remember all the details of the following morning. It is fair to say I swallowed a number of medications. The procedure must have gone well. The doctors and their team seemed very proud of themselves. My orders were to stay the day and be released the following day. It seemed like a dream. I flew back to Dallas the following afternoon. It was as though it never happened, or so it seemed.
Fun times were scheduled for the following weeks. First stop: Athens Greece, for the World Congress of Chiropractic. I had never been to Greece, so I was excited. Feeling pretty good I found myself checking into my hotel in Athens just three weeks after my “stent event” in Michigan. The sites, the food and people were fabulous. I love Greece. My sponsor was my alma mater, Parker University. Not many get to see their profession from such a viewpoint. I really felt blessed to find myself in this station of my life. The memories I was collecting were beautiful, as were the friends I had made in all my destinations.
My first week back from Greece was business as usual back at the office. We enjoyed a steady stream of clients. It was a fun practice, developed over 20 years, and a labor of love. My maternal, Italian-American family in northern New Jersey raised me. We were gardeners, landscapers, masons and very dependent on each other. It seems to me that I was born to build and grow a healthy practice. They prepared me well.
Summer was approaching fast. My plate was full. Tennessee was my next destination. Walking and climbing are subjects that I preach about to my clients. The material from which I teach is the accumulation of years of experience. I encourage walking and climbing because they are the real deal and they are activities that literally formed our Homosapien frame. Plus, they are metaphors for life. A longtime friend was calling Tennessee her home, so we walked the mountain streams and waterfalls for a few days. It was absolutely beautiful.
Next stop: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I met Lou D’Amico in 1992. We were first-year chiropractic students. He and I have been thick as thieves since then. Seems like yesterday! Soon after we graduated from Parker College, Lou moved back to Pennsylvania to start his practice, and I stayed in Texas. Within a few years his beautiful wife Angie had given Lou two beautiful children, and the oldest, Lou Jr., was graduating high school. Wow those 20 years flew by! What a fun weekend. Angie is short for Angelina, and she hails from a big, happy, always celebrating Greek clan that knows how to cook and have fun. We ate, we drank, we laughed and danced. It was a fun weekend.
No one left disappointed, but all good things must come to an end.
I do like to travel, but “enough is enough.” As I landed at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport that Sunday evening, it occurred to me that the upcoming weekend marked the beginning of summer, Father’s Day, and the first weekend I was home and not traveling anywhere in quite some time.
Usually I have these types of weekends on my radar because I love being home in my own bed, with my own bathroom and kitchen nearby. I spent my youth learning my family’s businesses. It was shameful the condition I had let my yard deteriorate to. I require obedient shrubbery and tree growth. I was far behind with the yard work, but couldn’t find anyone that would trim the hedges the way I liked it. So, I gave up on landscaping companies. Except for my friends who own tractors, most guys don’t like yard work. In Texas folks would choose to take their lashes from the blazing hot summer sun rather than deal with the evening mosquitos. Summers in Texas are hard on people who work outdoors. The weird thing is that I love doing yard work. Shaping trees and bushes was my favorite part. I love to bonsai my bushes and trees.
One of my first lessons as a young boy was that you should always keep your tools clean, sharp and organized. With great pride I strode to my tool shed to gaze upon my shrub shearing instruments. Gathering my ladder and gloves, I righted my wheel barrel and loaded in my pruners, saws and sheers. Ready to go, I moved to the front of the house to find the area of maximum shade. Temperatures reached a balmy 97 degrees that day. Bring it on! It wasn’t long before my mind was immersed in the work. I was in the zone. Soaked in sweat, slimy and glistening, I was locked in as my shears shaped the perfect hedge, knowing that next week my hedge would lose its edge and have to be imperfect again. To what end do I chase this impossible feat? Why do I try to satisfy my eye, to find elegance in order and design? Working in the dirt with living things brings me back to my childhood when it seemed like just an important task my family made me do. I appreciate it now as so much more.
I had created an impressive pile of tree limbs and branches – over six feet high and fifty feet long. I was starting to get hungry and tired and decided to make the tree I was working on my last one. You know how you get when you’re done. I was there. My ladder was leaned up against an evergreen that was being starved out by surrounding trees. Saving this tree was definitely on my mind. In my hands was my long handle pruning sheers. Standing on the step at the top of the ladder, the one with the sign that says “DO NOT STAND”, I reached up with the sheers, squeezed the handles together and clipped a very robust limb from this tree. With that thrust I felt a sharp pain in my chest, unmistakably a feeling I recognized. It was chest, shoulder and scapula pain. Coupled with jaw and arm pain. Not again! Yes again, only this time it was much worse. The pain was worse and I felt an urgency to find help. My first call was to my friend Kay. We were supposed to go to a dance recital that evening and I thought I’d let her know I was not going to make it. I am a stubborn man and in such denial of my potential mortality. I convinced her to come get me and take me to the hospital. No ambulances for me. What would the neighbors think? We sped through my neighborhood then onto the toll way toward downtown. We were headed for Baylor Hospital, famous for its heart expertise. I remember being deep inside my head thinking we’re gonna make it, we’re gonna make it. We pulled into the emergency room carport behind two ambulances. A policeman came up to my door and said move the vehicle immediately. I replied to him: “I’m having a damn heart attack”, and passed out. That’s the last memory I have of that day: June 20, 2015
My heart had given out. When does a man really check out? I do not have that answer yet, luckily. However, I did flatline twice. I am so grateful that emergency team took a second crack at bringing me back. My heart was working at about 5% of normal, and Francis Murphy was going to die today. That was the word on the street. I knew I should have learned how to play the piano. A day-to-day rollercoaster ride began for all the people I love. It was a machine called an “ECMO”, short for Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation machine, that kept me alive while the doctors tried to do other things to resurrect my failing organs. My poor mother!!! I was on that machine for two weeks. This machine was designed to be treatment on babies originally. Only recently was it considered worthwhile for adults, even though survival statistics were poor for adults. I guess the rational became ‘if we can save anyone, it’s worth it’. Plus, it is a billable service so what the hell. At this point I’m more than okay with their way of thinking. Thanks, guys. As a reminder to you, I had remained unconscious since my arrival at the hospital. I was trapped in a coma that lasted 38 days – I call it the Rip Van Winkle Effect. So weird! Eventually all things change and it was time for me to fight while I was awake. So, on July 28th I woke from my sleep to a whole new life. My body didn’t function normally anymore, and my mind was searching for answers. I could not walk or speak properly. Tubes and machines were still keeping me alive. My vision had changed. Very frightening!
After a few days of adjusting to being awake, my family began to tell me about the steady stream of people who came to say good-bye – over eight hundred visitors, many were my patients. It breaks my heart just to type these words. I have made close friends with people from all over the world. They saved my mother from falling apart. They were listening for all those years and my efforts affected them. Somehow, I connected with those folks. The knowledge of their visits, especially in the light of my unconscious state, had a profound effect on me and gave my life a meaning it did not have before that fateful day. Have you ever asked yourself who the heck is going to show up at my funeral? Well I kind of know now – my posse, a big one!
People seek truth as an instinctual survival technique. Most of the time people recognize truth when it is revealed to them. Most of the time! Selfishly, I get great joy from telling people the things I know and am discovering. What I have come to understand is that when I speak my truth it will resonate with certain people. Collectively those people and I have created our own unified field, revealing greater displays of love, joy, gratitude and meaning. All things have a duality of existence. There is the separation from all other things and the oneness of all that exists. The constructs of life are experienced on the level of separation. The construct of oneness is experienced as pure love. Toiling to keep the edge on my hedge unites me with the unified field. Then is when the field tells me stuff. That is where the field answers my questions. It’s not only when I am trimming my trees. It happens whenever all of my attention is immersed in the anything. The portal to harmony and resonance only exists as your attention moves into the present. This is not a new concept; others know this truth. Magic happens when two or more people move into each other’s present time consciousness. They experience existence as an expression of likeness and content in the human invention of time. When conflict arises, the present time has slipped away. Watching, listening and feeling dissolves time ushering in pure love, knowledge and joy as well as all possibilities.
Armed with new truth, about what’s real in my life and what offers me fulfillment. I have decided that I will keep working my way into the present moment, finding what the unified field wants to reveal to me. And, there is where I will be sharing it with you.
For a deep dive seek out the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza.
Parker grad Dr. Francis Murphy is President and CEO of OTZ Health Education Systems and the author of Frozen Shoulder Treatment & Diagnosis, A Physician's Training Manual. In 2006, Dr Murphy discovered a cervical spine cause of Frozen Shoulder Syndrome and he now teaches the OTZ Tension Adjustment Technique to doctors all over the world. Dr. Murphy is certified in full body Active Release Techniques and is currently chief clinician in practice at Whole Health Partners, in Dallas, Texas. He also serves as treating doctor and clinician for Southern Methodist University, providing top chiropractic techniques to amateur elite athletes in football, track & field, swimming and soccer. He also serves on the postgraduate faculty of Parker University.