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Has your Atlas shrugged? Review of Upper Cervical Hawaii


Aunty read Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged” way back in high school.  I was reminded of this, not because of politics or literature, but because I learned that we have an Atlas bone!  It is like a plate that holds our head in place, kinda like Atlas holding the world on his shoulders.  It is also and more commonly known as our upper cervical.

Cousin Teresa let me in on a fantastic lead – Dr. Joe Breuwet at Upper Cervical Hawaii.  Dr Breuwet adjusted her upper cervical.  Teresa has had some incredible results – better hearing, better posture, and an unexpected bonus, weight loss of 2 pounds per month for the last year and a half!

Since Aunty has had chronic neck pain and shoulder pain for most of her adult life (that’s a long time), and tinnitis (like ringing crickets) in her right ear for about 5 years, a visit to see Dr. Breuwet sounded like a good idea.

The first visit was purely information gathering and giving.  An explanation about the upper cervical, spine, posture, etc. was interesting – a cross between Chinese meridians and a spinal anatomy lesson.  Aunty’s measurements were taken – not standard height and weight, but horizontal evenness of hip and shoulders as well as length of legs in proportion to each other.

Hmmm.  Aunty was only off by 1/4″ between right and left shoulders and right and left hip, as well as only 1/4″ shorter on the left leg.  Not bad, maybe?  However, the weight between the left side and the right side of Aunty’s body (stood with one foot on one scale and the other on another) was a rather big 18 pounds!

Okay, maybe I was now ready to admit that I could be crooked and an adjustment might do me some good.  Several x-rays were taken.  I’m not a big fan of x-rays because supposedly the radiation never leaves the body or some such stuff, but for this treatment, x-rays are the order of the day.  No adjustments were made, and a follow up appointment with adjustments was made for the following week.

Appointment #1

On the day of adjustment, Aunty was really feeling like her neck and shoulders were exceedingly tight and sore and looking forward to seeing what an upper cervical adjustment would be like.  I was given a card of “Misalignment Factors” with numbers corresponding  to my L(eft) or R(ight) atlas laterality, lower angle, frontal plane, atlas rotation, axis rotation, short leg L, and phase of degeneration at 2 (out of 3).  I could check on what my numbers represented online at Dr. Breuwet’s patient website as well as see what the correction corrects. [It is a very cool tool showing exactly what happens with an adjustment.  Go to, click on “enter” and then choose “no I’m a visitor”.  You will get an idea of what happens with the adjustment if you play with the boxes on the bottom (body, head, spine, etc.) and see the difference before adjustment and with adjustment.]

Aunty lay sideways on a little adjustment table and Dr. Breuwet made little pushes that felt rather wimpy to the area a little below and to the back of my left ear.  And that was it.  Really?  That’s all?  Aunty was hoping for a hallelujah cracking of the neck and a stretch and pull and shake rattle and roll!  To tell the truth, after that adjustment, I didn’t know what I felt, and the next step was to get more x-rays done of my corrected upper cervical.  I was then taken to a side room to lie down in the semi-darkness on super comfortable lounge chairs with soft hippy music until I was called out.

I still wasn’t sure if I felt better.  I still had some ringing in my left ear but the sound is always much greater in the evening when it is quiet versus during the day when there is so much ambient noise.  I left after some brief instructions about how to sleep and dos and don’ts about my computer posture. I felt taller.

Aunty went home and started doing her computer work (Aunty does a LOT of computer work) with her usual improper neck and body posture due to having a lap top on a standard desk and a dinky chair.  After about 2 hours of sitting that way, Aunty looked up and felt a very audible “POP!” – almost like a crack below the ear.  Then, all of a sudden, the ringing got loud (maybe louder?) and Aunty’s neck felt like it was caught in a very painful vise grip, which cause my shoulders to also become painful.

Pain is a funny thing.  You really notice it when you have it, and you really don’t notice it when it has subsided.  I had not noticed the absence of pain until after the “POP!” which brought on the pain that was absent earlier.

Aunty could have called and gotten a corrective adjustment but instead waited until her next appointment in 4 days. Meanwhile, the pain on my neck and shoulders had subsided but was still present. The ringing in my ears was still very loud.

Appointment #2

On Monday, Dr. Breuwet measured my leg lengths and said, Yup, the upper cervical went back to the original and that usually people’s initial adjustments last for at least a day to 4 days instead of a few hours.  He also said that I should have called the next day to be scheduled in earlier.  He did the same wimpy gentle adjustment, Aunty rested for 10 minutes on the soft comfy chairs, and felt a slight difference. For one thing, the tinnitis was less loud. I had a slight woozy feeling, not quite vertigo.

The following day, I had a headache – which is unusual for me. I took a couple of capsules of Nattokinese (see post on Natto) because that is what Aunty does when she has a headache.  Aunty’s theory is that if the headache is caused by blockages in the veins or arteries, natto will clear it away.  Perhaps having an adjustment on my upper cervical releases stuff, causing headaches that may be due to blockage.  In any case, it doesn’t hurt and taking Nattokinese and having a short nap does wonders towards dispelling Aunty’s headaches.

The neck and shoulder pain were ….. hard to describe.  Like it was there but not there.  I felt the same, yet different.  Because the adjustment is so gentle, it is hard to say if it was really making a difference.

On Wednesday, Aunty had a nice long wonderful massage at Hikari Shiatsu by Dick Murakami, and he thought that upper cervical adjustments were potentially awesome – the principle and practice of it could account for a lot of people’s problems.  I was looking forward to the next adjustment, which was to happen the following day.

Adjustment #3

Yup, Aunty was off again – they first thing one does is lie flat on the table, draw up the knees, lift the butt, and then stretch out the legs.  By looking at the feet being in or out of alignment with each other, Dr. Breuwet can tell if it went out of kilter.

Again, the very gentle wimpy pressure behind and below Aunty’s ear area, then up slowly, and a trip to the hippy music room of semi-dark to lounge on the big comfy reclining chairs.  Again, a slight headache, though I do think the ringing in my ears are slightly less loud.

Aunty got a riser for her laptop and an external keyboard for the computer table so ergonomically the eyes are looking straight at the computer screen and the hands are at the right angle for computering.  This should help except it feels strange having my head facing straight rather than down, and it also feels like I have more stress on my neck and shoulders because I am being so careful about not knocking it out of the position it was adjusted to.

I am keeping my head still so that it doesn’t go out of whack again – and I betcha it has.  35+ years of the upper cervical being slightly off means 35+ years of muscle memory that needs to be trained.  However, the effort is making my head feel heavier.  I better ask Doc about that the next time I see him.  I also had an intense pain on my lower right cheek when I touched it.  It lasted for about 2 days, and then it went away.  What was that about?  Gotta ask Doc.

Adjustment #4

Aunty wasn’t as out of whack as before!  Only a little out of whack, and Dr. Breuwet did the same gentle wimpy touches behind my left ear and measured leg length to make sure he adjusted me just right.  He said not to baby my head and neck – with each adjustment to the proper position, the muscle memory will become righter and righter (forgive Aunty’s grammar).

I asked about that intense pain on my cheek – I had remembered that I was hit with a hard object at that point 32 years ago.  He said that with adjustments, people sometimes experience re-tracings – old stuff comes back.  Stuff from before that the body compensated for.  Headaches also can occur (Aunty does have more headaches now) and they go away.

The saga continues.  Aunty’s head feels a bit like a bowling ball.  A heavy bowling ball.  My neck’s range of motion is greater without pain.  Shoulders are still stiff, ears still have tinnitis.  In fact, the ringing in my ears sometimes sounds like stereo – not just from my left ear, but in the whole head.  And not all the time, but once in awhile, the sound would just jump into concert mode.  Maybe that is good?  We’ll see.

So far, the best bonus has been the new set up for my workspace with the laptop screen at eye level, and a new keyboard with numeric pad below.

Adjustment #5

Aunty’s leg lengths and her hips were even!  What that meant was that the last adjustment was holding – even though Aunty’s head still felt like a bowling ball.  Dr. Breuwet said I didn’t have to consciously keep my head in place, I could do my favorite neck rolls in moderation – hurray!  Now Aunty can feel like relaxing a bit more.

This time, a few adjustments on the lower back and pelvis – similar, but much more gentle than chiropractic adjustments I have had in the distant past from crunch, crack traditional chiropractors.  And this time, since Aunty didn’t need any upper cervical adjustment, I could bypass the resting period on the comfy chairs in the dim room with hippy music.

A young muscular man and his wife in the waiting area asked me how long I had been getting adjusted, and if it worked.  I answered, “Not long, and not sure.”  As Aunty walked out of the office, another woman came out and as we rode down in the elevator together, I asked her the same thing, “How long, and did it work?”  For her, it was 6 months, and her shooting pain from an accident was relieved after suffering through other therapies for a year.

The crickets stereo in my ears are still singing.  Something of a different pitch though.  Hard to explain.

*Hoboy, Aunty went out of alignment yesterday.  I could tell because my head now feels like it is crooked, and my neck and shoulder pain have returned – I had forgotten how it felt since it was actually gone (the absence of pain is not felt).  Tonight, my left upper arm is feeling very sore – as if I had carried something too heavy.  I am REALLY looking forward to tomorrow’s adjustment.  **When I awoke this morning, the intense neck and shoulder pain have subsided, and the upper left arm soreness is much less.  Seems like pain comes back intensely for about a day when it goes out of whack, and then moderates to slight pain.  Will ask Doc.

Adjustment #6

Doc said I was a bit off and did adjustments – actually he did several pushes (still very gentle pushes), more than normal – after which Aunty went into the comfy chair room with hippy music for a 10 minute rest.  Since my adjustments seem to be holding for 6 days, having 2 adjustments per week is a bit too many, but since I was already scheduled for 2 a week, I will be seeing Doc in a couple of days – and the upper cervical should be in the corrected position, for at least another few more days.  What this gives Aunty is the opportunity to do more with her neck, head and body with less fear of having it out of whack with a long wait before the next correction appointment.

Asking Doc (notice I call him “Doc” now – getting friendly I suppose) about the intense pain that subsided the next day didn’t produce much conversation, more of a “hmmm” since I also mentioned how Uncle didn’t think much of this therapy in the next breath.  [note to Aunty:  sometimes some things are best left unsaid.]

So, anyways, Aunty’s head feels less like a bowling ball, I think I am getting used to this slightly different feeling!  Also, the ringing in my ears have become stereophonic again.  Neck and shoulders feel pretty good, with the neck feeling a bit stiff.

I did a lot of neck rolls and stretches tonight and am wondering if I did some misalignment.  My left arm feels so heavy and weak – as if I had bowled 4 games.  Interesting.

Adjustment #7

I think that I did a bit too many neck rolls, because Doc had to do his gentle pushes on Aunty’s upper cervical to get her into alignment again.  I asked if my heavy sore left arm could also be a re-tracing of a past injury, and he said it could be.  A lot of stuff is brought back out to the surface before it can go away.

I asked why my neck doesn’t crack as many times as it used to (Aunty’s neck would crackle pop crackle like popcorn popping before) and Doc said those cracks were caused by spaces between the discs, and now that Aunty’s neck is getting more into alignment, the spaces are also getting addresses and corrected.  I kind of miss those crackling cracks, but it also feels like Aunty’s neck is much looser, less tight, and Aunty’s head feels lighter and sitting in a good spot.  Tinnitis is still there, but a higher pitch coming from a bit higher than the left ear.  Shoulders actually feel good!  They only hurt if pressure is pushed onto them, like in shiatsu massage.

Went to a meeting last night and sat on the far right which caused Aunty’s neck to be fixed in a left turn face to the stage.  Shoulders and neck quite sore.  Can’t wait for the adjustment coming up the next day.

Adjustment #8

Indeed, Aunty was a bit out of alignment, and Doc adjusted.  I can tell when I go out – a feeling like my shoulders are being gripped or my neck feeling very tight.  A bit of adjustment was also done to my lower body.  My head feels less like a bowling ball – more like I have a lighter head that wants to find its proper sitting place.

Adjustment #9

Slightly off again – I could feel a “crack” when I was in the shower and shampooing my hair after a very tiring garage sale on the weekend.  I thought that I would be way off, but Doc said it was just a little.  Am glad for that – seems as if it is wanting to really hold in place.

This has been week 4 and I still have ringing in my left ear, but it sometimes also feels like the crickets are ringing in my whole head.  There is a blissful no-pain zone on my shoulders.  My neck still feels a bit stiff – it may never feel 100% wonderful because of what my x-rays showed – years of being out of whack with my neck bones stuck in place have caused some spurs.  At least this therapy will prevent further deterioration and discomfort.

 Adjustment #10

After the bent legs, butt up, legs out check, Doc said I was holding the adjustment!  That was a bit surprising, but good to know.  Just a bit of pelvic adjustment and Aunty was out the door.  Aunty kind of misses all the cracks and crackles that her neck used to make when doing rotations, but it is a good result – something about the gaps from being out of alignment causing the noise not being good.

Aunty is at a 2 day seminar and not looking forward to the stiffness of neck and shoulders that I usually get at these intensive learning sessions, so we’ll see how it goes after this weekend.

Adjustment #11

Doc said that I was only slightly out.  It is actually not how much off my atlas alignment is – it is how much and how long my body is compensating for it going out of alignment.  After a few gentle tweaks, Aunty was now ready to graduate to the next step – once a week rather than twice a week adjustments.  That will be good, although Aunty always looked forward to the visits and has been very lucky each time in finding parking on the street, or at Don Quijote’s lot if necessary.

I still have the ringing in my left ear, but rather than 1 big cricket chirping, it sounds like 2 or 3 littler crickets chirping together.  Interesting.

Day 2 after adjustment #11 – a very interesting experience for Aunty.  See Aunty can’t look up for any length of time, so painting the ceiling or changing a light bulb is very very tricky for me – it would feel as if my neck is broken and then become painful with stiff aching shoulders for days.  It used to feel like my head had toppled off my shoulders, like a puppet head on a string.  However, on this day, Aunty had to paint a shower ceiling as well as the edges around it, and a corner curio unit which had 3 levels, and so it entailed looking up with head turned.  These tasks were done – took Aunty all afternoon to finish painting (Aunty is a slow painter), and other than a slight “Crick!” in the neck a couple of times, Aunty was fine!  Hmmm.  That’s very good!  Very good indeed!  Except – I won’t tell Uncle otherwise he will be less helpful about changing light fixtures and painting rooms if he knows that I can do it now.

Adjustment #12

This has been the longest period of time between adjustments – 7 days.  After the painting on the ceiling and not suffering extreme neck pain for days, this adjustment was very much looked forward to.  Aunty also was doing a lot of lifting and carrying, and neck and shoulders are a bit tight feeling today.

Subsequent adjustments

Because Aunty would still go out of alignment every week, Doc did more x-rays to fine tune and change the adjustment.  Since then, Aunty has had the alignment hold for longer than a week, and will soon be going on a schedule of once every 2 weeks!  The new adjustment has brought on neck and shoulder pain again, which may be a retracing.  One huge difference is that Aunty can bend her head back, looking at the night sky or while shampooing her hair in the shower without the normal pain of her arms and neck.  The saga continues, and for the better!

 Halfway there

Me thinks Aunty is not a good subject because of bad habits.  Doc would tell me to limit my computer use, or sit properly, take breaks, stand half the time with a different set up, make sure my back is straight in the chair, etc.  Well, Aunty would have fanatically long periods of time on Fridays playing Candy Crush Saga, and lately Aunty’s upper cervical adjustments were on Friday.  This would result in feeling good right after Doc adjusted me, getting on the computer and clearing candies and jellies from the board for hours, and then feeling terribly sore and achy on the neck and shoulders.

As a result, Aunty will do the marathon playing of Candy Crush Saga on Thursdays, and go for adjustments on Friday.  Hopefully this works and the adjustments will last because of good behavior during the week for the first 6 days after seeing Doc.

Constantly needing tweaking

I almost feel sorry for Doc, but my upper cervical still needs adjustments every week and the old neck and shoulder pain has returned, although not as intense as before.  Sitting on the dentist chair for a couple of hours last week didn’t help, and my next appointment has been scheduled for the day after my crown replacement.

Aunty has also been under a lot of stress lately, and a much needed massage (wonderful deep shiatsu by Dick Murakami of Hikari Shiatsu 955-5125) with emphasis on neck and shoulders is happening tomorrow.  Blissful gentle pain.  Yum!

At the Senior Fair to help

Aunty went to help at Doc’s booth at Hawaii’s Senior Fair.  It was very interesting and fun to talk to people in line waiting to be scanned.  Every one had different readings.   One that stands out in my memory is an attractive woman, probably Aunty’s age, who was born with one side of her neck muscles too short, and the other was long.  She was born in Malaysia and never treated for her condition because of poverty.  As a result, her head was always tilted to the side, and she grew up with ridicule and cruelty.  She wore a little visor hat and it was not evident at first, but as Aunty listened and looked, the location of the woman’s eyes had evolved to be parallel with her shoulders – one closer to her cheek, the other closer to her forehead.

The wonder of human adaptation to whatever life throws at us!  I am not sure if she made an appointment to see Doc Breuwet, because having that condition for that many years is not fixable, but it would be an interesting case for him.  If only, if only, she had been treated with the good hands of someone like Doc when she was first born.

Long story short

This post started as a review of Doc Breuwet and the treatment received at Upper Cervical Hawaii.  Over 7 months have gone by, and Aunty was unable to see Doc for any adjustment for the last 2 months (because Uncle had some health issues and Aunty was being Nurse Ratched).

During these last 2 months, Aunty’s neck, shoulder, and head have been feeling “normal” – even after helping to paint one of the ceilings in our home.  After weeks of being Uncle’s nurse and dealing with the stress of being a full time caregiver, excruciating pain in neck and shoulders occurred, and an appointment was made for an adjustment a few days later.

By the time of the appointment, Aunty’s neck and shoulders were only slightly painful, and surprisingly, Aunty’s Atlas was only slightly out of adjustment!

So, although Aunty’s results have not been dramatically life changing, Aunty does believe that Upper Cervical Hawaii has helped get her head on straight.  Less pain and tightness in neck and shoulder, with occasional reoccurance of extreme pain, and slightly quieter tinnitis – ringing in Aunty’s left ear.  Years of poor posture and work habits have resulted in damage that cannot be reversed, but can at least be halted and relieved to a certain degree.

The last scan and diagnosis will be interesting.



Aunty would recommend this treatment – especially if people suffer from chronic headaches or pains from an accident or fall.

The downside is that most medical insurance companies do not cover most “alternative” therapies, and the full cost of the treatment is on the patient.  Unfortunate, and hopefully that will change in the future.

Get your Atlas straightened up in order to get your head on straight, and get relief!



About The Author

Aunty is a new senior citizen and loving this phase of her life. Less responsibilities, less fear of being weird, able to do more of the things that I want to do! Older, yes, slower, yes, but life is even more wonderful in my golden years and I look forward to even goldener ones.

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