Growing up, the kitchen table was the hub of our household. The iconic spot, immediately adjacent to the back door, primed for an elbow bump from the regular influx of a seemingly endless supply of kids, it was occupied most hours of the day and night by our dad. Trading hand-rolled cigarettes for pickled pigs feet (I have to believe his taste buds for the latter were primed by the former) he was always armed with a Zebra pen and notebook, stack of books, playing host to a wide variety of guests sharing conversation and advice, solicited and not. The booth was a proverbial clown car with endless capacity for bodies, especially on pizza night when there was a mad rush to rip open the paper of the Little Caesars double wide. Beyond daily meals and the dusty prepping of pierogi at Christmas, this simple round-edged square on a solitary pedestal has sustained and supported many discussions, decisions, emotions and evolutions over more than half a century and now welcomes the next generation for projects with grandma and sibling reunions. It was over, around and under these sixteen square feet that I first learned about community, communication and collaboration.
During orientation week of medical school, I was the lucky winner of a raffle for an Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment table, a serendipitous moment brought me early ownership of the tool that would become central to my entire professional career. Able to have a direct impact early on with family and friends who were willing candidates for the practice of techniques, this portable table was a constant companion. With the patient upon and the doctor beside, a therapeutic relationship ensued. Four folding legs and cushioned teal leather supported structural corrections, optimal function and served as guide – for the health of the patient and my personal quest.
This journey included a three-year round trip to the State of Jefferson including one where a year of independent practice utilized an identical folding table while two years in collaboration saw me rotating among four more permanent, customized to the needs of my colleagues, teaching me adaptability and stability all at once. Navigating difficult diagnoses, welcome solutions and steep learning curves, I eventually landed back in my home state to a town previously experienced as a tourist, stepping before the path was revealed. Taking a chance on casual greeting of fellow osteopaths, their generous reception led to the introduction to Table Health. Intrigued by the name and enthralled by the mission, I offered my experience and alignment was found.
Visions of wellness centers as the solution to health crises facing the world have had many iterations – in my head, in writing, in proposals, in the rooms of my clinic and on the floor of my gym. Though health was enhanced, the concept never reached its fullest expression. On walking into Table Health, I saw the fruition of this dream. Calm and bright, the structure was sound, encouraging clear and full function. Substance supported style and the patient-centric, health-driven mission was everything I had envisioned manifested in reality – and they were looking for a physician to join them on the journey. Abandoned meals and work plans of fasting were replaced by a bounty, inviting me to fill my plate and have a seat at The Table, welcoming my contribution and offering opportunity in return.
The tasks are daunting, but equally inspiring as the potential is limited only by true reverence for the health. Trusting in my osteopathic roots, this is indeed abundant. While there will be no Little Caesars or hand-rolling tasks, pig’s feet might find their way back in a whole food model and there will certainly be books and notebooks aplenty. Though the dimensions have changed, and the advice now explicitly solicited, collaboration ensues and care for humanity remains a constant. Temporary or permanent – over, around, under, beside and upon– the table positions us for relationships and roles as we require and can provide.
May we be nourished, body, mind and spirit through our contribution to community as we make space for all at the Table.