Salted with Sharks

A Healer Returns

In GOOD NEWS, Health on December 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm

By Ann Sinclair

PJ Lenhard in his treatment room in Copemish. Photo by Ann Sinclair

PJ Lenhard in his treatment room in Copemish. Photo by Ann Sinclair

COPEMISH – I first heard about Dr. PJ Lenhard (pronounced Lenn-ARD) while stretched out on my massage therapist’s table, facedown and in pain.  “You know, PJ Lenhard has just returned from British Columbia,” Barbie Stow said, “and he is an incredible healer. He may be able to help you.”  Up to that point, Barbie’s powerful massages had provided me temporary relief, but there was something really wrong in my shoulder, and I needed to find out what was going on. I didn’t want medication; I wanted healing and recovery. If this guy Lenhard could help me, I was willing to give him a try.  My first trip to Dr. PJ, as he likes to be called, took me to his farm near Copemish, where he has turned an outbuilding into his office. Comfortable furniture, deer mounts on the wall, and a woodstove warm the space.

During the initial exam he asked me to tell him of my injuries over the years, and then he very gently tapped certain areas of my arms, legs, and spine to locate trouble spots. With this technique he found something out of place in the middle of my back, and had me lean into his hand in such a way as to gently place it back into position. I immediately felt relief. When he appeared satisfied with the information he gathered, he kindly offered his table for me to rest on, and laid a large, furry buffalo hide over me for added warmth next to the fire. This beautiful coat had belonged to QB, who was one of his pets when he lived on a ranch in upstate New York.  He had to put her down because she blocked a school bus one afternoon and wouldn’t let anyone out.  A smile crossed my face, and at that moment, I knew I had found a very unique doctor. I wanted to find out more about him, so I asked how he developed such an effective approach to healing. He started telling me his story, which began with his own pain.

Born in Frankfort, PJ moved to Chicago at age five, where he expressed his great love for athletics by playing football for Newman High School. When he was a halfback in his senior year, a serious knee injury motivated PJ to design his own recovery program involving hydrotherapy, stretching, and strength exercises. As a result, instead of being benched for the rest of the season, PJ got himself back onto the field, to the surprise of his coach. Healing himself had a life-changing effect on PJ, and when his guidance counselor told him he wasn’t smart enough to pump gas, PJ took that as a challenge and won an academic scholarship to Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, where he pursued his desire to become a doctor and help others reach their optimum performance.

While at Eureka, PJ was fortunate to be able to intern as a research assistant under Dr. Stephen Binkley, who shared the Nobel Prize for discovering vitamin K. “He really spurred on the nerd in me,” PJ reflects. “There is so much more to medicine than I originally understood it to be.” After he finished his course work in medical school, a painful back injury led PJ to explore all sorts of healing techniques, including chiropractic. “Chiropractors were seen as quacks by the medical establishment, but I was in pain and needed relief so I gave it a shot. It worked.” Truly impressed by such a successful approach to his injury, PJ redirected his pursuit of healing away from receiving his medical license and toward enrolling in the National College of Chiropractic (now the National University of Health Sciences) in Lombard, Illinois. The curriculum mirrored that of his medical training in its requirements of anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, as well as physical therapy and X-ray reading. In addition, nutrition took on a much bigger presence than it did in medical school. Knowledge of medication was also stressed, not because PJ would prescribe them, but because he needed to understand their action in the body so he could determine what symptoms they were hiding, and what the real cause of a patient’s discomfort might be.

According to Dr. PJ, “People are dynamic, and they come in with different symptoms, lifestyles, and backgrounds. Their body chemistry and genetic makeup is all different. Even though every human body is generally the same, each patient is their own set of unique experiences and history of injury.  There is no cookbook chemistry.  An important part of my learning is that you can’t just go through a routine with a patient—you have to take that patient as an individual, and take the symptoms of what they have to find the best way to get them on the path to healing. I will do anything to help a patient. Heck, if I knew voodoo and it worked, I would use that.”

Upon graduation in 1983, Dr. PJ set up his first practice, in Elmhurst, IL. A local high school requested medical assistance during a regional track meet, and Dr. PJ was able to work with and help heal the aches and pains of many team members, some of whom were preparing for the Olympics. “Athletes are better conditioned than the average person, but they abuse their bodies in all sorts of ways. I was able to work with a variety of injuries, and provide relief where other physicians had failed.” Word of Dr. PJ’s work spread and people from all walks of life started trickling into his practice. As he learned more about the innate systems of what the body needs to heal itself, PJ became more skilled in his approach to people’s pain. “I find it important to quiet down and use all my senses to observe how a body is functioning,” says Dr. PJ. “I observe how you get out of your car, your walk, and how you carry your weight. Do you favor one limb over another? My work starts with being able to understand a person’s place of well-being, and how she responds to the world around her. Only then can I begin an individualized treatment program. It takes more time and patience, but it produces lasting results.” Dr. PJ extends this knowledge to animals as well, working with horses and dogs on a regular basis.

Dr. PJ’s work is subtle. Though he can “crunch” like a traditional chiropractor, he does so only when necessary to adjust a system that is significantly out of whack. The emphasis of his work is to identify trouble spots by skillfully assessing where things are out of balance, make soft adjustments, then allow the body to heal itself. “The body is the most intelligent being in this whole process,” says Dr. PJ. “My job is only to adjust where necessary, then step back and allow the body to do the rest.”

As far as my shoulder is concerned, Dr. PJ has set me on a path to healing without drugs or surgery, with an emphasis on muscle retraining and proper rest, which I have finally been able to get after months of pain-filled nights. No other doctor has been able to help me, and to have such skill located in Copemish is a gift to all of us seeking relief. To follow your own path to healing, you can reach Dr. PJ Lenhard at 231-709-2931. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!  Ψ





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