Dr. Michele Gardner. A family chiropractor with an emphasis on kids.
There is angelic quality to Dr. Michele. A kindness, a compassion, a never ending advocacy that borders on too good to be true.
You feel a tremendous sense of optimism the minute you step into her office…something special, almost miraculous is about to happen!
As you walk into her office, you’re immediately taken aback by the un-doctor-like atmosphere. From the calming and vibrant colors, decorative and fashionable furnishings (as opposed to an old fashioned, functional, sparse medical waiting room) enchanted walls adorned with pictures and decorations that almost ‘come alive’ and ‘speak’ of her humanitarian endeavors helping kids on a Native American Reservation in MT, to the inspirational and uplifting stenciled pearls of wisdom, there is an inviting and relaxing ‘vibe’ to her office. You look so forward to walking out of her office a ‘different, uplifted’ person each and every time, regardless of how you walked in.
Everyone in her office seems so friendly and supportive from her front desk ‘wingman’ Gianna, to all the practice members. There is a decided, palpable, ‘community’ feeling to her office coupled with a vision (healthier people = healthier planet) that extends beyond her office walls. You can hear an almost haunting, melodic tone to Dr. Michele’s voice. Somewhere deep in the lateral recesses of your mind tells you, you’ve heard this voice before; perhaps a mother, grandmother, teacher, or someone who saw something very special in you and made it their business to nurture it. With the decided theme of children in her office, you intuit, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I know we’re not in Kansas anymore/this is not your average Chiropractic office.
If fact, Dr. Michele isn’t your average Chiropractor.
Homecoming queen looks complimented with the humility and approachability of the girl next door. Add to that a wisdom that exceeds her years, combined with a graceful, athletic physique that’s equally at home climbing rocks, dancing, biking, yoga, hiking etc. If you’re lucky, you will even witness her breaking out her impressive ‘dance moves’ when one of her patients shares their ‘miracle breakthrough’ stories with her. What specialist do you know that does that? She receives continual, specialized, clinical training 12-15 days per year with a humanitarian Chiropractic group with members all over the US and Canada dedicated to becoming ‘once in a lifetime Chiropractors’. She is a huge advocate for Love Has No Color a world project dedicated to bringing the health, hope and dignity to Native American kids on a reservation in Poplar, MT and beyond. She travels with family, staff and practice members 2-3 times a year to the reservation and is a ‘surrogate’ mother and role model to dozens of young girls. She has a gentle way with her practice members always taking the time to really listen, understand and get to know them without taking away their personal space or sounding arrogant.
Most specialists you meet are much more standoffish and less engaging. Contrarily, meeting Dr. Michele you’ll be reminded of your favorite ‘auntie’; intelligent, centered, accepting, non-judgmental, and is always there for you, no matter how dire the circumstances. But make no mistake about it, she also sees right through your excuses, stalling tactics and stories of why you and your family can’t be healthy. She even has homework to assist you with your health goals and knows if you’ve done it! Many ask how she is able to get results when others aren’t able to, and the secret is simple; she does it with a liberal dose of playfulness and humor combined with high levels of patient commitment. She asks for high levels of ‘skin in the game’ because she has high levels of skin in the game. Her experience has taught her, results with difficult cases can be achieved no other way. Something sacred occurs when a doctor and practice member come together to reach a common goal. Even when many of her people are in the battle of their lives, she has a way of making the unknown seem less intimidating.
“Even though I’ve been in practice for over 10 years, I never forgot why I got into Chiropractic- to make a lasting difference in people’s lives, especially children. To create a true healing community that moves toward what can be done, rather than obediently accepting limitations of what can’t be done. So much emphasis is put on adult and kid’s diseases, more information, classification, more diagnosis, more limitations, learn to live with it, but around here, it’s all about health, wellness and RESULTS!”
When she was young, she experienced first hand what it was like to be a kid with serious health problems. Test after test, the feelings of isolation, while no one understands what’s happening to you and being told the terrifying symptoms can only be managed, never corrected. She watched with sadness on the look of fear and hopelessness in her parent’s eyes. She also couldn’t help noticing that many of her classmates were not in good health, especially emotionally and psychologically. Depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, anorexia, seizures, self-harming, asthma and concussions were very prevalent.
Nobody seemed to have the answers for these kids and what’s more, nobody seemed to step up or really even care. It almost seemed like these kids ‘slipped through the cracks’ and didn’t matter to society. Parents almost seemed to silently ‘endure’ their children’s hardships in quiet desperation, heads bowed, abandoning any hope of correction. Beneath these illnesses was also a dark, unspoken, undercurrent of girls who had various forms of abuse in their lives. From physical, to emotional, to sexual, to bullying, these girls seemed to always be wearing invisible scars and felt as ‘outsiders’. Dr. Michele felt a natural compassion and connection to these girls and wanted to protect and comfort them even as a child. Because nobody was able to step up and help these girls, many of these kids drifted away into self destructive worlds of darkness. Sadly, some of these children never made it out of their self destructive worlds of darkness. These experiences would later ‘sow’ the seeds for her future destiny of helping change the world.
Since being a very young child, Dr. Michele has always been an advocate for bringing about positive change in the world. From cleaning up the ocean, reconciling family disputes, helping and healing injured animals, abuse, bullying, you name it and there was nothing or nobody Dr. Michele would back down from. Her life has been dedicated to being in service to humanity. Her mantra that continues to serve her today is ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world”. No matter how commonplace and accepted by society childhood illness is today, Dr. Michele refuses to go along with this trend and will never stop advocating for a child’s inalienable right to be healthy. All illnesses can improve under the right conditions. Seeing this suffering and conflict firsthand, early in life made a lasting impression on Dr. Michele and fuels her passion to this day to be that person ‘in your corner’ when the chips are down/wolf is howling at your door/proverbial gun is at your back. When others say, there’s no hope, Dr. Michele says ‘let’s get started’.
Great moments are rare when it comes to difficult pediatric cases.
I can’t believe this is happening to my child. Your worst nightmare come true; your child is not developing like other children or has been diagnosed with a scary, ominous illness. You go the conventional route seeing MD after MD, searching for info online, developing an online social network with other parents, doing test after test, all the while being urged to give it some more time, and yet there is no progress being made. As a parent, something inside of you dies; you feel like it’s the end of your world. It’s a sinking feeling and nobody seems to know what you’re going through. You’re at a crossroads, a defining moment in your life…you’re going to need ‘one tough advocate’ in your corner to move towards health. Most parents and doctors you speak with are supportive, however, there is an unspoken undertone of being disheartened and have all but given up on improvement, resolution or correction. You’ve heard the ‘you are not alone, others are in the same boat, learn to live with it’ all are designed to comfort, but instead they serve to amplify the hopelessness. In your heart, you know there’s help out there…but where? You are going to need a decided contrarian who meets difficult problems head on, and you have no time to waste. Health waits for no one. This type of specialist may not be in your neighborhood however, as you may find yourself embarking on a road trip that can change the course of a child’s life. It’s not unusual for Dr. Michele’s practice members to even fly in from other parts of the country.
For parent after parent, in the last 7 years of practice, there’s a magic that comes from being aware that you’re onto something while you are into it. From the moment you walk through Dr. Michel’s door, you’re filled with a strange sense of purpose that seems to invigorate your entire life and strengthens your family at its very core. You feel you are on a sacred mission, a journey into the unknown with Dr. Michele as your trusted leader who will guide you and never let you down. Hopelessness is replaced by a new sense of optimism that things are going to work out okay.
There is a familiar theme to practice members of a specialist; most have been put through the wringer and have been failed by many health care providers. “Too many doctors today are more interested in a patient’s insurance coverage than the actual patient as a human being’, Dr. Michele says. We have fully insured, partially insured and cash patients here at Gardner Family Chiropractic and they are all equally welcome. Our patients seem to be more interested in RESULTS rather in what is or isn’t covered. Just because someone is covered by insurance does not mean you will get results. There is a human connection, a sacred relationship, a cooperation between doctor and practice member that has all but been lost today. Way too much focus on the financial, administrative and technical end of patient care and not enough human touch, compassion and commitment to serve according to Dr. Michele.
When asked about the seeming miracles happening around her, Dr. Michele is quick to deflect credit by saying, “The real heroes are my practice members. Their unwavering support and commitment to care are the real ingredients that produce such uncommon results. I love seeing people make breakthroughs in their lives. The smiles, the tears of joy, the hugs, the spontaneous dance parties breaking out, the mended relationships, the accomplishments, the report cards, getting back to sports, or just plain getting back to what’s important in their lives…It’s all a part of our daily way of life at Gardner Family Chiropractic”.
“I don’t pretend to appeal to all people. Those attracted to this office are those who are willing to do whatever it takes for their kids or themselves. Kids don’t have a voice when it comes to their health. Hiding behind kid’s hectic schedules, inconvenience, no insurance coverage doesn’t serve children. They depend on their parents not quitting on them, or agreeing with limitations others place upon them, rather than finding solutions. Health connects us all, especially kids. If you are looking for this type of care, look no further, you’ve found a home at Gardner Family Chiropractic!”
Written by Dr. Kevin Pallis