Dr. Fox interviews Dr. Christy Matusiak from Integrated Holistic Health Care in Wilmette Illinois. Dr. Matusiak explains her path from studying psychology and biology as an undergraduate to chiropractic training and becoming a holistic healthcare provider, how she helps patients optimize their health, and how listeners can find their own holistic healthcare providers.
“Alternative, Integrated, and Holistic Care” – with Dr. Christy Matusiak
Share this post:
Dr. Fox: Welcome to today’s episode of “Healthful Women,” a podcast designed to explore topics in women’s health at all stages of life. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox, an OB/GYN and maternal fetal medicine specialist practicing in New York City. At “Healthful Woman,” I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness. Okay, welcome, Dr. Christine Matusiak, you are at integrated holistic health care in Wilmette Illinois, I know Wilmette very well. Christy, thank you so much for coming on “Healthful Woman,” I really appreciate it.
Dr. Matusiak: Well, thank you for having me today.
Dr. Fox: Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, you know, where you’re from, how you got into what you’re doing. And then we’ll go from there.
Dr. Matusiak: I went to college in Iowa for my undergraduate degree. So at that time, I majored in biology and psychology. And it was interesting at that point, we didn’t have the mind body connection and holistic medicine kind of standpoint like we do now. And so people used to look at me at that time and say, “Biology and psychology, why would you put them together? That doesn’t make any sense.” And apparently, I was ahead of my time, because I said, “Well, I believe that the human body is that connection.”
I went along, I did my thing. I ended up working at Abbott Laboratories for a couple of years right out of undergraduate program. And it was at that time that I had an interview with a different department in the pharmaceutical division. And they asked me specifically, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” And I said, “Well, in five years, I would really love to be in a more patient centered environment, really helping people overcome their issues, overcoming their health problems, and really, even from a preventative standpoint in a lot of ways so that ultimately, they wouldn’t even need the pharmaceuticals, you know, because ultimately, I think if we can prevent disease from even happening in the first place, that’s even better than the care.” And then it was when I realized that I was interviewing at the pharmaceutical division, so that didn’t really go well with them. So I didn’t get the job.
Dr. Fox: No, thanks a lot. Bye-bye. Yeah.
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah, I was like, “Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best thing to say.” But it was a great transition for me because it was at that time that Abbott was having some big changes, and they had a big layoff. And at that time, I ended up finding chiropractic and finding some of the work that I do now with a mentor. And it was just a seamless transition. I don’t know if you believe in fate at all, but it was kind of very fateful kind of circumstance it was one of those things. I was like, “Okay, this is now your new future. Go ahead and be free.”
Dr. Fox: What does chiropractic training entail? What do you have to do?
Dr. Matusiak: The school that I went to here in Lombard Illinois, actually, they require… I believe all schools do, but I think most and many require at least some prerequisite programs, but my school ended up requiring a bachelor’s degree initially as well. So you needed to come in with a bachelor’s degree. And then you needed a handful of specific prerequisites in the basic sciences before they have, obviously a very rigorous basic science program in the beginning of the program. I know a lot of medically minded physicians would be very surprised to know that we actually have just as much if not more, preclinical classroom, than our MD or DO counterparts…
Dr. Fox: By preclinical you mean…
Dr, Matusiak: Anatomy…
Dr. Fox: Yeah, anatomy, physiology, and so forth.
Dr. Matusiak: Exactly anatomy, physiology, path, neurology, biochem, all that good stuff. So I mean, if you actually were to compare hours by hours, I believe medical physicians have more in pharmaceuticals, of course, because they’re the ones doing the prescribing. Whereas we have a little bit more in physiology anatomy and those sorts of kinds of things. We actually even have to train on doing ob-gyn exams, as well as prostate exams, just to know how to do them. And if our individuals wanted to pursue those as more of a part of their practice, they had the choice to do so. I didn’t, it didn’t seem like it was my thing. But we have that kind of training, which is pretty surprising to many people.
Dr. Fox: Yeah. Okay. And then what is the clinical timeframe? Like, what is it from start to finish?
Dr. Matusiak: So it was about three and a third years straight through program. So the first half, the first five trimesters were basically basic sciences. And then the latter five were more clinically based clinical examination and treatment protocols. And it was the last year that we did our internship, basically, so it was the last three trimesters that we were studying in the clinic with a clinician overseeing our care of different patients.
- Fox: Right. And then when you finish you can go out into practice, Is there like a licensing? How does that work?
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah, there are four different parts of board examinations that we have to pass, they each have different categories. Of course, I believe, it’s been a long time, so you’re quoting me on this. But I believe like the first two parts were more basic science oriented. The third part was more clinically based. And part four was mostly radiology based, if I’m remembering correctly, and you’ve got to pass all the parts, you know.
Dr. Fox: So you finished your training, and then how did you decide sort of what kind of practice type you wanted to join or to start to be doing?
Dr, Matusiak: I wouldn’t call it a mentoring necessarily, but an example of what kind of doctor I wanted to be, do you ever see such items? I mean, I didn’t necessarily believe in, “Hey, laughter is going to heal everything.” But at the same time, I do truly believe that the core of medicine is connecting with your patients and developing that relationship, so that you can work together to overcome whatever they are struggling with. And so frequently, that can be through just a conversation, in like a therapy kind of scenario.
Sometimes that requires, you know, okay, obviously your nutrition isn’t exactly where you want it to be so we provide nutritional supplements or dietary consultations to get you where you need to go as far as that part’s concerned, sometimes it’s exercise recommendations, or homeopathy, or referral out, for different medications or what might be necessary for them. No matter what, though, I think our goal is the same in just connecting with the person that’s in front of us and doing whatever is in their best interest. And so that’s kind of what’s always driven me from before I even went to school.
Dr. Matusiak: And where did it lead you? What was your first I guess, job or practice type after you finished training?
Dr. Matusiak: Well, I looked at a couple different offices while I was in school. And so I saw a couple different varieties of chiropractic. So there’s one chiropractic physician I worked with, but his focus was mostly on functional chiropractic neurology, so I’m a bit familiar with that. But I mean, you have I think, it’s ophthalmologic tape, like the red and white tape where you can kind of like, move it back and forth and see how the cadence of the eyes tracks that movement back and forth. And there was just a lot of detail that I went back into…he was a diplomat. So chiropractic is obviously this big umbrella. And then there’s a dozen different specialties, in essence, just like the medical field.
And so he was a chiropractic neurologist. And then there’s other people that I worked with that mostly specialize in the applied kinesiology, which is what I really do most of. In that sense, it’s a lot of muscle testing, making correlations and connections between different meridians and how they impact the body, sometimes even those emotional components because every organ system has an emotion or resonance that it picks up with. So like, for instance, the lungs tend to hold on to grief, liver is more anger based, kidneys are more fear, and so on. And so there’s a lot of those kinds of connections that neuro emotional technique is responsible for.
So that’s kind of an offshoot of this applied kinesiology work that either way, it’s all just based on muscle testing, analyzing the nervous system to figure out the person that’s in front of me. They may have back pain, they may have diabetes, they might have headaches, either way, I’m still just analyzing their specific neurology and going through and figuring out what’s contributing to this problem. And it could be a very multifaceted kind of approach depending on what comes up on exam.
Dr. Matusiak: And when you say you’re examining, do you mean like, you’re examining by asking questions, by looking at them, by actually manipulating them? You know, doing tests? What exactly does that mean? Like, how do you come to those conclusions?
Dr. Matusiak: All of the above, so usually, our first visit with a patient takes at least an hour, most of the time, unless they’re, you know, under ten, but most people, it takes about at least an hour where we go through and okay, so for instance, you came in with back pain. “Great, let’s talk about your back pain. Tell me where it is? How long has been there? Anything make it better or worse? Does it radiate up and down your leg? Or is it localized? All these basic medical questions. And then once we have a picture of the specific problem, those they’re living with, “Okay, let’s move on now. Tell me what kind of exercise you do. Tell me what’s your diet is like on an average day. Tell me about what your job is. Do you like your job? If I gave you a winning lottery ticket right now, would you actually continue doing what you’re doing?” It gives me kind of a perspective of how much stress they have in their life, and where their fulfillment level is.
Past medical history, so we go through any surgeries they may have had, of course, any other medications or supplements that they currently take past history as far as their family history is concerned. And then once we get through all that picture, which usually takes probably 20, 30 minutes, at least, then we kind of switch gears and go into what I call more of a constitutional history where I ask like, you know, tell me about your mother’s pregnancy with you. Like what was lifelike in her world before you were even born? Because there’s enough research to show now that when a woman is pregnant, everything that’s going on in her life is in essence getting through the baby, somehow.
Sometimes this part of the history is very unremarkable, “Oh, no, everything was great, mom was happy, everything was fine.” And every now and then I hear some really, really traumatic events that have happened to a mother when she’s pregnant, and then the person sitting in front of me, it’s like, that might be contributing till this day, what your body is holding on to, and how it’s manifesting its disease, so to speak. So we go through all that kind of history. And then once we’ve completed all those pieces of information, we go through a physical examination, I take blood pressure, of course, do some other testing, as far as orthopedic exam is concerned, especially if it’s musculoskeletal complaints.
So we look at range of motion, we look at muscle strength, and then I start to correlate the muscle testing findings to the other big picture information that I have, if they have blood work I look at their bloodwork from a functional perspective tend to read between the lines of bloodwork. So like for instance, if somebody comes in and they say, “Oh, my doctor said everything is totally normal,” I say, “Great. Let me take a look at it.” And if their vitamin D levels are 31, like, okay, that’s technically normal, but let’s get it up a little bit, because we do have COVID happening right now. And it’s been really shown in a lot of research to know that the higher vitamin D levels are, within reason, the better you are equipped to fight off immune struggle. So we look at those sorts of things, and I try to really kind of create this idea of optimal function instead of just not dying. Hopefully that answered your question though it was kind of a long-winded answer.
Dr. Fox: What you’re describing, is that specifically related to applied kinesiology? Or is that something that pretty much all chiropractors and all types of practice would be doing
Dr. Matusiak: Not all chiropractors do this. I would say a lot of them do. There’s a large percentage of chiropractors that are strictly musculoskeletal practices, people come in for back pain, neck pain, headaches, and they call it a day. The circles that I associate with primarily, we all do this sort of thing where we’re really focusing on just like that whole picture of somebody’s health. So that in essence, a lot of us become primary care physicians, where we’re trying to be sure that, you know, you’re really preventing anything that’s there from happening. And of course, we will refer out to medical doctors all the time, when it’s necessary. We just come from the standpoint of like, you know, we would much rather take a conservative approach, instead of jumping to medications right away, if we could deal with it and mitigate those things early on.
Dr. Fox: Right. So in your own practice, right, you said that there are many chiropractors who basically 100% of their practice is back pain, neck pain, headaches, pelvic pain, whatever it might be. For your practice is it a similar percentage for people who come in the door? Or do you have people coming in for a much wider range of issues, let’s say?
Dr. Matusiak: A very wide range.
Dr. Fox: Because of the way you set up your practice and advertising and what you do.
Dr. Matusiak: Exactly. And a lot of us is word of mouth at this point. So we have people that come in for depression, anxiety, we have people that come in specifically, their chief complaint is digestive issues, or GORD, or colitis that nobody can figure out. You know, one of my favorite people to treat is someone who’s come in and said, “I’ve had this bloodwork, this bloodwork this scan this and this, and everybody says that I’m totally normal, but I still feel like junk.” I’m like, great, they’ve ruled out everything big and scary. So now we can just see what we can do from an energetic and chiropractic and nutritional standpoint.
Dr. Fox: It’s just I’m separating in my head for the chiropractors who they’re treating purely musculoskeletal, is the therapies that they do typically also related to manipulation, massage, sort of musculoskeletal hands on type, as well are those sort of like linked?
Dr. Matusiak: Yes, I mean, the chiropractic care that I use as well is the same in that essence well, you know, I will still adjust the spine, I will still manipulate and do some muscular myofascial work to provide musculoskeletal effects locally and have a bigger picture. I mean, believe me, chiropractic care, on its own, outside of what I do is powerful enough on its own, simply because you’re adjusting certain segments, restoring mobility and function at that level, which then allows nervous system function to take place in a more optimal way, treating muscles, and treating organs, that those things were never…if that motion wasn’t restored at those segments, they could lead to issues down the road. So even without my weirdness doing extra stuff, chiropractic alone is pretty amazing.
Dr. Fox: Right, because I was thinking it could just be because I’m naïve, but the way I always envisioned chiropractors, and what they’re doing is they have this knowledge, and this art and this skill, and people come for a certain set of complaints, potentially, and the chiropractor approaches it from a certain way and has techniques that have been tested, and there’s a lot of data and how effective it is, and whatnot, and that’s sort of what people come in for, they come out for, and they see them, either forever, or temporarily, or just once or twice, fine. And what you’re saying is, that’s a real science. And that’s what people are training to do. But you’re describing that plus, meaning you see people for that plus many others, and you apply what you learned in your chiropractor training, as well as more, so you can see more people for a wider range. And you also approach it with a wider range of therapies. How did you find that? Right, when you were looking? It just…you happened to come upon it? You started it yourself? How did that happen?
Dr. Matusiak: It was serendipitous that it started in the beginning, when I was still working at Abbott Laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry, my mother…I was about to get married. I mean, if you want this whole story.
Dr. Fox: Sure.
Dr. Matusiak: At the time, I was about to get married. And I had pretty large eczema patches on both of my arms, and it wasn’t really a pretty sight to see when you’re about to get married, and you’re supposed to be looking more pretty and everything. And we had like nine months or something before the wedding. But my mom had met this chiropractor at her gym, that was doing a health talk at the time and she said, “Christy, you need to come and see this person. He seems amazing. He seems like he’d be right up your alley. You’d have a lot to talk about.” And I said, “Okay, sure.” And so I went and met with him and he told me the world of chiropractic. He told me, that he individually was doing this applied kinesiology technique.
And it’s like, I’ve always been interested in this like nature versus nurture kind of concept, of how much of how our bodies handle things and what we manifest as far as conditions, or health, or disease, is concerned. How much of that is what we’re doing versus our genetics. So I was always interested in that kind of thing. And I swear meeting him and having him show me what he did was like, “This is exactly what I always wanted, but I never knew existed,” at this point. And so he did some testing through the muscle testing work and discovered I had sensitivities to both wheat and dairy products. And I said, “Okay, those are my two favorite foods.” So…
Dr. Fox: Oops.
Dr. Matusiak: Right. And I was like, “All right, well, you know what, I’m not sure how much I believe this yet. But we’ll give it a shot.” And so I mean, I was also taking better care of myself at that time anyway, I was drinking more water, I was exercising, I was getting more sleep, and cut everything dairy for a couple weeks. And I felt really good. And I was like, great, my eczema was kind of fading. But as you probably know, eczema kind of comes and goes, it ebbs and flows. After a couple weeks, I was like, “You know, I’m not entirely sure if this works, because I feel pretty good now. But at the same time, I’m doing all these other things at the same time. So you know what, forget it, I’m gonna have a big plate of mostaccioli and it’s gonna be great.”
And within two hours of having that giant plate of wheat and dairy, I started itching like crazy all over my body. Now it wasn’t like an immediate allergy anaphylaxis kind of response. Like, or I was high, it was just holy cow, there was an immediate connection between what I ate, and how my body was feeling. And I was like, “Okay, maybe he was right.”
And so fast forward, however, many 10 years 10, 15 years later, now, I can handle a few things with wheat and dairy in them now. And it’s not an issue. At the same time. I also know that if I push my stress levels too high, or if I just don’t care about what I’m consuming on a regular basis, too far. That could be a reality again, but I really haven’t had a real eczema outbreak in over 10 years, because of the conscientiousness and that self-awareness that I’ve learned because of the chiro that I met, you know, however many years ago that was.
Dr. Fox: What you’re describing, and what’s in your practices name, a lot of people refer to it as this concept of holistic, which we were discussing before, it’s spelled with an H and not a WH even though it means the same thing. And I was wondering if you could help everyone listening to understand just first discuss a couple of these terms that are out there that not everyone really gets what they mean. The first I’m gonna ask you about is the word holistic. The next is the word alternative. And the third is the idea of integrated, you can address those in any order you want. But those are the three that I think people sometimes use interchangeably. Sometimes they do mean the same, sometimes they don’t. And just, how do you view those three things holistic, alternative, or integrated?
Dr. Matusiak: Absolutely, it’s a really good question, I definitely find that they’re very, very related. But I find that there are two distinctions between the two. So I’ll start with alternative. Alternative medicine, people tend to think of as an alternative to “Western medicine.” And so if somebody would come and see me, if I were a purely alternative practitioner, if somebody would come in to me with depression, for instance, I would say, “Instead of Prozac, take St. John’s wort.” that to me is an alternative approach. If we’re doing an integrated approach, that same person, I might say, “Okay, well, let’s work on diet, let’s work on your exercise, let’s work on your relationships, and get you into some therapy, while also doing Prozac.”
Dr. Fox: Okay.
Dr. Matusiak: And that last person in the holistic sense, is, well, let’s figure out why you’re depressed. So that’s why when I told you kind of how I approach a person on their first visit. In that holistic model, it’s like, we’re literally looking at every ounce of every area of their life, to figure out why this person at this time has this scenario in their life. And how we can best approach them specifically. I mean, I see people with depression, anxiety, all the time. And there’s not a one size fits all protocol or approach. It’s constantly changing and evolving, depending on what the person needs. That kind of makes sense as far as like the distinction between those three categories of medicine.
Dr. Fox: You sort of describe the moments in a hierarchy that like the lowest level is just doing something alternative, which is different from Western medicine. And then integrated is, okay, we’ll do something maybe a little bit different plus a little bit traditional, so to speak. And then holistic, sort of on top, or you may do both of those, you may do one of those, but you’re sort of trying to get a bigger picture set. Would that be an accurate description?
Dr. Matusiak: You know, I don’t wanna think of them as in a hierarchy, because actually everything has its place.
Dr. Fox: Okay, fair.
Dr. Matusiak: But at the same time, I mean, I feel like you know, there are integrated and alternative methods within the holistic model. So like, and that’s an example. Sometimes all somebody needs is an herb or some kind of nutritional supplement. And so that, in that sense, is a very alternative approach.
Dr. Fox: Okay, that’s fair. So meaning it could be hierarchical, but it could also be just what’s needed, and you don’t need to do anymore. Okay, I think…
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah. Exactly.
Dr. Fox: That’s fair. Now how would someone…let’s say they are seeking this out, right? They’re like, “Okay, I’ve been to Fox, he’s a doctor, he’s an MD. I don’t like what he said,” or whatever. Where would they go? Like, how would they figure this out? You know, say, “I wanna seek a different approach. Would they just go on Google or do they ask a friend? How do you find someone who does this who’s good at it?
Dr. Matusiak: First off, I would ask a friend, to be honest with you, because I feel like there’s no better way to find someone that you’re gonna resonate with, as far as your healthcare is concerned, than by asking people that you’re close to that already know you well. There are websites, however, that specifically have people like myself on them, icak.com. That one is really one I use, if I have a patient or if a patient of mine has a friend in another state or something, I can make referrals that way, because I know it’s a network of practitioners that I would trust based on I know their background, and I know their level of education and training.
Otherwise, I mean, if you don’t necessarily find anybody in your area, as far as those things are concerned, I would just literally Google holistic, or naturopathic or something along those lines, physicians in your area. And it’s a pretty big field now. So I guarantee you’d hit on a handful of points, you’d find a handful of practitioners. And then it’s just a matter of looking through their websites and feeling like I really, really believe in trusting someone’s own intuition on like, what they see on a website, you know if something’s not gonna feel right. And energy gets a really bad rap, I think we may have talked about this once before, you know, it’s like, this weird energy concept of like, who you’re gonna feel like you work well with, or if there’s energy healing you felt in someone’s office, it gets a really weird rap because nobody can understand it. But at the same time, we all know it exists, because…you’ve got kids, right?
Dr. Fox: Yeah. Plenty of them.
Dr. Matusiak: I can remember four right?
Dr. Fox: Yeah.
Dr. Matusiak: Did you paint any of their rooms black?
Dr. Fox: Paint it black?
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah.
Dr. Fox: No.
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah. Why not?
Dr. Fox: I have no idea. I don’t think anything to do with the colors. They didn’t ask for it. But I guess that’s, why.
Dr. Matusiak: They didn’t ask for it for it, but even as babies when they were babies, you wouldn’t paint a baby’s room black. It just doesn’t feel right.
Dr. Fox: Right. It definitely seems a little bit dark and mysterious.
Dr. Matusiak: Exactly. So that’s one of the easiest ways that I can kind of explain, you know, there’s some energy healing in what I do, as well as who you’re going to connect with best. As far as finding somebody that you’re looking for with this kind of work, it’s just gonna be a really personal decision.
Dr. Fox: Right. And I wanna ask you a question and I’m gonna premise this question for you and also for our listeners, that this question is not specific to either holistic or alternative care providers, because the exact same question is totally relevant to you’re sitting across from an MD or a DO is, I think a lot of people have hesitation or concern that when they see the person, they’re not gonna know what they’re doing, right, they’re just gonna be like selling something, or they’re gonna be sort of talking this, you know, hocus pocus and they don’t buy. Again, the same is totally true for medicine as well, that there’s people who do that, and it’s hard to figure out who they are.
But how would someone you know, they make the appointment, they see someone, he or she seems really nice and kind and the office is nice, and they sit down and they start talking about their energy, and they start talking about this, “And I want you to try this herb, and let’s do this. And let’s try this.” And is it just like, “Well, like, what the hell try it and see if it works?” Or is there a way that someone could even figure out if this makes any sense to them?
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, on one level, it’s about how it feels to the person, if they feel like, it’s going well. And if they’re seeing good results, then great. And I would never throw any of my colleagues in the profession, under the bus, in any sense at all. However, I do know that there are some chiropractors who literally, they have such a protocol, that it’s not necessarily specified to each individual person. And so that, to me, is always a red flag if you go in somewhere, and you feel like you’re being treated like a number where everyone around you is doing the exact same rehabilitation, everyone around you is getting the exact same care, that can be the red flag that it’s just not specific to what do you need.
Dr. Fox: That’s a really good point. And the same would totally hold true when you’re seeing medical doctors, if everyone’s getting the same treatment, the same pill, the same operation, the same whatever, unless he or she is a specialist in a particular operation, like, obviously, then yeah, that seems to be a red flag as well. So that’s good advice. And anything else?
Dr. Matusiak: I also I mean, I say the words, “I don’t know,” a lot. And I’m perfectly comfortable with that. Because if someone comes in and they have their long list of symptoms or issues, I may have a great picture of what I think might be going on with them at first, and then we go to the exam, and there’s a lot of different things that I would expect that come up, I would be the first person to tell them, “You know what, I’m not entirely sure, I don’t have the clearest picture necessarily right away, of what we’re doing here.” Sometimes I do and that feels really great. And then other times we don’t, and I feel like being honest and upfront with your patients is just really, really important. So that it becomes a partnership and saying, you know, like, “We’re gonna try X, Y, and Z for say, three weeks. And if we don’t see any difference in three weeks, we’ve either got to change our approach, get new imaging, get more bloodwork, do a referral out, see something else,” but like, I’m not going to string somebody along and say, oh, they just need to come in more frequently, more frequently, and for a longer period of time, if we’re not really seeing some kind of change in their physiology within a short period of time.
Dr. Fox: Right. This is golden, by the way because I totally, totally agree with you. It’s such a hard proposition for people to figure out, is this doctor is this providers this caregiver good? How would you know? Is it possible, like you can know if their office is clean, you can know if they’re on time, you can know if they’re friendly, you know, you can maybe see if their degrees are impressive or not, which is, again, not all that helpful. I mean, whatever. And so, and it’s true, you go see a doctor, I have no idea if they know what they’re talking about. It’s very hard. And so you have to look for these clues sometimes. And I think what you said is so true, that I don’t think I’ve ever met a good doctor who does not say to their patients all the time, “I don’t know, I don’t you know, let’s figure it out. I’m not sure.”
And this idea of we’ll try this, we’ll see if it works, we’ll revisit, that type of collaboration, that we’re gonna figure this out together, we’re gonna see how you know, we’re gonna try something, you’re going to give me feedback, we’re gonna come to the same place together, is really a good sign. And people who are quite dogmatic, or always have the answer, or are just very sure of themselves, maybe you hit the jackpot and found the one who knows everything. But that’s probably not the case. And I think that that’s just so true. I mean, for me, when patients asked me about that they’re thinking about or they are, or they might see another provider, and let’s say they’re not a medical doctor, they’re doing something alternative, let’s say, I’m open to it, I’ll say, “Fine, like, Great, let’s see if they can be helpful and see what they say.
And if they recommend something that seems reasonable and not dangerous or crazy, right. Okay. Try it. You know, like you said, it’s gonna work or it’s not gonna work. I mean, if it works, fantastic. That’s really helpful. And I think that sometimes people get very, I don’t know, it’s just I don’t know if they’re protective, or if they’re defensive, it’s just a very weird vibe that sometimes doctors will give off that if you pick up on that, make note of it.
Dr. Matusiak: I feel like I’ve told family members this before when they say, “Well, I wanna get a second opinion, but I don’t want them to be upset about that.” I feel like if your doctor is not okay, with you getting a second opinion, there’s something wrong.
Dr. Fox: Oh, yeah, that’s a bad sign.
Dr. Matusiak: Because I feel like…that’s really a bad sign, like, if the idea that you’re questioning something that they’re recommending, makes them feel uncomfortable, then there’s a reason for it. And so someone says, “I might wanna go see an acupuncturist, I wanna cover some of this information with my medical doctor,” I say, “Great, take them all the information, do all the research you want and come back and let me know what your thoughts are.” And if someone’s not okay, or comfortable with that there might be another red flag.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, I totally agree. So let’s say someone has never been to a “alternative,” provider, holistic or integrated, you know, they’ve only seen medical doctors, what would be your pitch to them, if you were doing a commercial and trying to get people to consider what you guys are all doing. What would be the selling points?
Dr. Matusiak: The selling point is really what I do is very patient centered care. And not to say that, like the Western world is not patient centered. It actually can be when you’re with the right practitioner, but it’s really just about their experience, and their journey to make sure that they find the healing in the quickest, safest, and most efficient way possible. And the way that I do that is through modalities that don’t involve drugs or surgery. And so if somebody is trying to look for a modality or a system that’s going to help support their body without drugs and surgery.
Drugs and surgery absolutely they have their place when they have their place. And more often than not, we can do things without those that we’ve seen in the very beginning stages, you know, if you’re 80-years-old, and decrepit, and everything is falling apart, there might be some of those things that we can’t reverse at that point. But most often, most of the time, I feel like you can do a lot of work with people without drugs and surgery. So that would be one of the biggest selling points, honestly, is just coming from a holistic perspective, get your body back in balance, and just watch the miracles that it can do.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, and I agree. And I was gonna ask you, but I know what the answer is about whether, you know, I mean, it’s a softball question, is it better for people to see someone in western medicine or an alternative? And obviously, it’s a combination? It depends on the circumstances, and the ideal is, everyone’s working together. And I wanted to ask you about because I know when we spoke a couple of weeks ago, just when we first met, and we were discussing this idea that everybody knows the problem with fragmented car. That you have one person who takes care of your arm and one person who takes care of your eye and one person who takes care of your, you know, liver and, you know, if 65 different people who take care of you and they don’t speak to each other and they have nothing to do with each other. And that’s true across all areas whether it’s Western medicine, alternative medicine just because someone’s a chiropractor, or an acupuncturist, that doesn’t mean they’re gonna speak to the other one, right? It’s the same problem potentially. And how do you see that in your daily practice, like when does it come up? And how do you address it?
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah, so like, you nailed it exactly how I would have described it, I kind of call it like outsourcing body parts to different practitioners. And so it’s like, you’ve got one doctor who takes care of your GI stuff, one doctor who takes care of your cardiac stuff, one doctor who takes care of your foot. And it’s like, okay, I wanna be the person that kind of thinks of you as a whole person walking into my office, instead of just one of these little parts here and there. At the same time, that exact same thing happens in alternative circles as well. The homeopath doesn’t talk to the acupuncturist, she doesn’t talk to the chiropractor who doesn’t talk to the naturopath.
And it can get just as out of hand in my world so to speaker verses your world. And I think that bottom line is just like I said, coming from that patient centered approach where it’s like, this is you and while like, I will never tell someone, “Don’t go see your acupuncturist.” But at the same time, if somebody comes in and they’re literally seeing six different practitioners, it’s like, something must be missing here. It’s like, if you’re seeing six different people for a similar part of this condition, and you’re still not feeling well, one of us is missing something.
Dr. Fox: Right. Right. You need to take a step back.
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah.
Dr. Fox: And so is that what you do you sort of like you know, somebody would say, you quarterback it, or you oversee it. Is that what you do in your own practice?
Dr. Matusiak: It depends. Certain people I would say, I kind of quarterback that and kind of like the middle hub to keep everything together. And in other scenarios, other practitioners fill that role, and I focus more on their musculoskeletal work. And that’s what they choose me for and that’s okay. So it’s really just dependent on the individual and what other practitioners are involved in the care.
Dr. Fox: Got it, in fact, a focus for a moment, because this podcast is related to women’s health, specifically. Who are the women, whether pregnant or non-pregnant, who seek out your care, and that you treat?
Dr. Matusiak: I treat largely pregnant women first of all, it’s one of my favorite groups of people to treat really, especially with regards to their families. I really enjoy treating a woman when she’s in pregnancy, because let’s face it, pregnancy is really hard on your body, especially physically speaking, once you start to have some of those hormonal changes and relaxin gets to kick in, people are uncomfortable. And so when I start to work with a woman during pregnancy, I can keep her more comfortable and maintain their energy, as well as ease the discomfort and frequently help support labor and delivery being faster and more comfortable. I mean, labor’s still gonna suck no matter how well you say it.
I mean, it then tends to be just a little bit easier on their body, and a little bit quicker than those who have not had chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy. There’s also practitioners who so speaking of like how, for instance, a pregnant woman will find somebody that does this kind of work. Outside of the muscle testing area, there are specific chiropractors who I believe the acronym is ICPA. It’s like the Chiropractic Pediatric Association. And I’ve been trained in that technique as well. We use a technique called Websters techniques to make sure that the woman’s pelvis is appropriately balanced and open and ready for delivery. And when those things are balanced, things like breech transverse positions are less likely to happen.
And so somebody comes in and they’re breech, and they’re trying to avoid a Cesarian section, we can go ahead and do some of those techniques, and hopefully turn the baby without…basically just avoiding a C-section. So that’s that kind of world. And of course, I have a special service that I love. And I will admit it’s a little selfish, because after seeing that woman for nine months of their pregnancy, I don’t want them to totally disappear and never come back. And I wanna meet the baby. And so I always, always offer to treat the baby for free when they’ve come in for their first postpartum appointment. Because I also know birth can be pretty traumatic.
And so when the baby comes out, depending on what drugs mom has had during their delivery, if they’ve had anything, or if they had any parts got stuck, I mean, you know how that goes. It can be pretty traumatic, depending on what happens, we’ll go through and treat the baby and kind of clear out some of that trauma to their nervous system so that it can improve colic, it can improve their sleep quality, their ability to nurse well, the amount of spit up that they do. I mean, there’s all sorts of things that are so common and intense that I’ve seen firsthand, just be gone after one treatment. So the earlier we can intervene as far as that’s concerned, I know a lot of people see a lot of benefit right away.
Dr. Fox: And what has been the response that you can tell from the local obstetricians and midwives whose patients come to you. I mean, because you don’t work with an OB I mean, their patients will come to you. What has been the response to your care for them during pregnancy? Has it been positive, negative, neutral, they don’t even know like, how’s it been?
Dr. Matusiak: Most have been very positive. The ones that we’ve worked with we work with a lot of midwives, and then OBs in the area. And it’s always been a very positive reception. I think they’re always very apt and open to work with other practitioners that are gonna help their patients be more comfortable. Because the fact is, if you have a woman coming into your office, when she’s eight months pregnant, she’s complaining the whole time. You don’t wanna feel helpless and like, not be able to offer something and if they’re getting something somewhere else that’s gonna provide them that peace and comfort and like, “Oh, thank goodness, I’m seeing somebody else who also just has this perspective or approach,” a little bit of support from other areas goes a long way.
Dr. Fox: Right. Plus one of the unfair parts of this as you’re practicing, in the Midwest, and Wilmette are the nicest people on earth. So everyone’s gonna be collaborative over there. But I don’t know, East Coast, not always the same.
Dr. Matusiak: So you’re not sure about New York?
Dr. Fox: Yeah. No, you know, everyone here is actually is quite nice. But the Midwest is a special place where it’s mostly because it’s where I’m from. But I know Wilmette and I mean, all those areas you’re talking about, it’s so nostalgic for me to hear about them. I just miss being around them all the time. And then you also took a particular interest in postpartum women. And as I understand you’re writing a book on this topic, correct?
Dr. Matusiak: I am. Yes.
Dr. Fox: So tell us about the book.
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah, I was hoping it’d be done this year, life happens and sometimes that’s no longer the projected date. Hoping sometime next year for sure to come out. It’s essentially…I don’t even the title yet. It’s really just working with the postpartum woman through that journey of what her life looks like now, especially after having her first child. I know, personally, I’ve got three boys. And my first, while I knew a lot from my own chiropractic and health training, and I did a lot of research and I was a very educated person, there are just some things that you just don’t know until it happens to you, and you’re forced to make decisions on the spot. And you’ve got to deal with this little person who depends on you for everything. And it was a very overwhelming time, I pretty much feel like looking back on the first couple years of his life, I had a little bit of postpartum depression and didn’t know it until he was around two. And I was like, “Oh, whoa, I’ve been in this weird fog for the last two years and didn’t really put it together until now.” So at that point, all you can do is move forward, and just make sure it doesn’t happen again.
And so it just became a passion of mine between what I’ve seen in practice, and with my own experiences when I got it, I just wanna be able to empower women to get through that process. And to get through that initial journey. And the hormonal ups and downs and not knowing what to do with this little person that you’re responsible for, and having all these resources, but still feeling alone, it can be a very isolating time, even though you’re surrounded by people who wanna support you. So that’s kind of what the book is designed to do is to kind of help that postpartum woman, like, really understand. First of all, you’re not alone, it’s okay, to feel like a mess. And then kind of even to how to take care of yourself and support yourself through this process, how to support your relationship. And then ultimately, in the long run, how to support your growing baby to keep them healthy and grow the family that you’ve been dreaming of this whole time.
Dr. Fox: And is this mostly based on your training and practice or based on your own personal experiences? Where are you drawing from when you’re writing this?
Dr. Matusiak: All the above. So a lot of it, I mean, I have a lot of patient stories that I’ve thrown in here. Some people that I’ve seen that literally, you know, I’ve had babies that have been in my office, like I said before, that we’ve reduced colic and those sorts of things. So I’ve got some scenarios, examples of people in my practice that I’ve seen their benefit from not just care, but then like some of the recommendations that I’ve made on how to change this or change that. And then just knowing what’s worked for me, I know not everything will work for everybody. That’s why everybody’s so different and unique. And that’s what makes it so interesting, you know, but just the combination of sharing my own experiences and my patients’ experiences, and the research of what I’ve done up until now to ideally support someone that’s going through that time.
Dr. Fox: Right. I’m curious what your experience has been in the, you know, for women who are in the first let’s say zero to six months after birth. Now, I’m sure that in a holistic sense, it would include both mental and physical struggles. But I’m curious, what do most people come to you for? Do they say, “I’m having physical pain.”? And then you sort of unwrap that it’s physical and mental? Or do they come in saying, “I don’t feel right, I feel sad, I feel depressed.” And then you find out it’s both physical and mental. Like, where do they come in?
Dr. Matusiak: That is a great question. I would say it’s 50/50. And…
Dr. Fox: Really? That’s interesting.
Dr. Matusiak: Yeah, I find it’s really dependent on where they have their self-awareness, mostly. So a lot of people, a lot of women tend to identify more with their body. And they recognize, “My body does not feel right, ever since birth, and I feel I still haven’t lost this weight, or I haven’t lost this, and I’ve got this, and my back still hurts at night.” They might have that body centered approach where other women just feel like their life is falling apart around them and they can’t keep it together. And most of the time, our health is always…and from my experience, is mostly three dimensional. We’ve got the structural components of health, we’ve got the emotional components of health, and we have the nutritional biochemical components of health and more often than that, it’s the combination of all three that gives people the ideal, optimal health that they deserve.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, I figured it would be very unusual for someone to come in postpartum and just, you know, physical pain. And you’re like, “Yeah, it’s 100% physical,” like, that just seems very unlikely. And on the flip side, if someone comes in and saying, “I don’t feel right. I don’t feel well, my mood isn’t good.” And you’re like, “Yeah, it’s just that,” it has to be everything. But it’s just I find that’s really interesting that it’s 50/50, I would have guessed more people would have come in for physical symptoms. That’s been my experience, that more people either, like you said, they’re sort of they identify with their body maybe more than their mental health. But I think that’s actually a really encouraging sign that half of your practice postpartum comes in for mental health. And I think that that’s great that people are aware of that. And I think that maybe that that is a good sign that what we’re doing on our end, in terms of educating women and talking about this, that they’re more, I don’t know, in tune with this.
Dr. Matusiak: Absolutely. I think there’s been a huge movement to really focus on mental health now, and budding. So that’s a really great sign.
Dr. Fox: Well, that is interesting. And then you’re also doing, is it a YouTube channel? Am I correct? Is that what the kids call it? nowadays?
Dr. Matusiak: I do. Yes. It’s a fancy cute name called “Dr. Christy Cares.” And I post a very short, like, usually anywhere between two- and five-minute video weekly, on just a different topic about health. And so sometimes I think I’ve done one about headaches, I’ve done one about exercise, I’ve done one on toxic, like home products or cosmetics and things like that. I’ve been more specific on like what I do in practice. So it’s all over the map. And so I try to keep it pretty…get a good variety of different topics in there. And I love it when people comment and offer different insights and new ideas of like what they’d like to hear about on there, too. So if anybody who’s listening, you know, would wanna subscribe, of course, I would love to have you. And I’d love to hear what people wanna hear about. So I can just spread the word on health as far as I can.
Dr. Fox: Right. And people can also find you on your website, correct?
Dr. Matusiak: Yes, that is christyatusiakdc.com.
Dr. Fox: Cool.
Dr. Matusiak: And I actually have a link to my YouTube channel on there as well. And I’m working on getting a blog together. So I’m just kind of putting it all together here. Like I said, the bottom line is I just wanna support as many people as we can. I mean, I feel like, just because you’re in a different form of medicine than me, I feel like we are still all on the same team wanting to keep people healthy and do the right thing for everyone.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, I totally agree. And that’s one of the reasons I really wanted to do this podcast together, that I think that people either unfortunately, sometimes they get the correct impression. But sometimes it’s the incorrect impression that doctors of clinical Western medicine and alternative providers or holistic or integrated care givers really are at odds with one another. And that does happen. But it’s unfortunate, because I think the good ones recognize the value in what everyone brings to the table, right?
So I feel like, I’m very well trained, I went to school and did all my training, I’m in practice, but I don’t know anything about chiropractic work, like I don’t know a damn thing about it. You know, I’ve never done it, so for me, like, I would be such an idiot to tell people, “Don’t do it.” Like, it’s crazy. Like, I don’t know enough about it. So I read about it. And I try to understand, and I talk to people and patients who go, but if someone’s gonna see you, and you’re gonna do something that you’re trained to do, and they come back and they’re better, it would be crazy for me not to value that.
And I think that for the most part, the doctors that are good and care about their patients are open to these things. We all have different opinions about what works, what doesn’t work. And it’s fine. Because no one really knows with this stuff, a lot of it’s trial and error. The idea is to really think of the person as a whole. And on a higher level, everything that’s going on, plus everything we can do to potentially help. And I think that that’s just really, that’s really interesting. And I’m happy that you’re doing what you’re doing. I think it’s great.
Dr. Matusiak: Thanks.
Dr. Fox: Other things I have to bring up on this podcast, just because I’m an obstetrician. So you had a baby born in a car and a baby born at home, right.
Dr. Matusiak: I did yes.
Dr. Fox: Right, and all the various elements. As I recall, the first one was at the hospital, the second one in the car to the hospital, and the third one at home and you’ve been getting progressively farther and farther away from the house from me, delivering your babies, I mean as far away from Fox as possible.
Dr. Matusiak: To your point there will not be a fourth where it would be in the middle of the forest preserve or anything like that, but we’re good with the three boys. But yes, absolutely, 100% for sure. Our first experience was a very, very standard labor and delivery and I hated every second of it. It was 44 hours’ worth of labor. I wanted to do everything very naturally. And I just went to the hospital too soon. And they were sorry they said, “Sorry, you gotta go back home, you’re not far enough along,” and we went back, and I was only dilated to two. And they’re like, “Well you could stay in triage,” and at that time I was throwing up, it was a big old mess.
And finally when I got to five centimeters and I was able to be admitted I stayed stuck at 5 centimeters for about 20 hours. We had all the standard interventions the IV, the Pitocin and then finally at hour 40 and I broke down and was crying, I told my husband, “Just cut it out. I don’t care. I know I didn’t wanna a C-section, but I don’t care now, just get it out.” Though that was the point where I got the epidural and magically slept for three hours for the first time in two days, and went from five to 10, in a couple hours, I was able to push him out, thankfully, but we just didn’t want that kind of scenario a second time. And so we were waiting and waiting and waiting to make sure that it was really the right time to go. And then when we were getting ready to go to the hospital, with the second one, my water broke, and I felt like I had to push before we left. So I was like, “Well, we’re not gonna make it.” But I very much preferred that scenario than the first. So that was much faster, a little bit more comfortable and a lot more empowering, I gotta tell you.
Dr. Fox: Right, but a little messier.
Dr. Matusiak: A little bit. Yeah, my husband had to have his car cleaned professionally, but you know what are you gonna do?
Dr. Fox: Well, and then the third one, you…since the second experience was so positive for you. You plan the third one at home? Correct?
Dr. Matusiak: We did yeah. Yeah, we had a group of midwives that supported us. And they came to the home. And it was beautiful. The third one was actually a much similar labor and delivery experience to my first, being that it took longer. It was about 20 hours or so of labor, whereas my second was like 12, maybe. But because I was at home and I was able to walk around, I was able to sleep and rest and do whatever I wanted and not feel like there was a clock and that external like energy shift and pressure. It was go half as long as the first and he was actually really, really cool. When he came out he kind of cried really quickly at first to clear out his lungs as babies are supposed to do and then he kind of just like, I feel like, he looked around the room and was like, “Yeah, I know this place. I’m cool with this,” and went straight to sleep on me. It was beautiful.
Dr. Fox: He said, “I’m happy my room is not painted black. I’m good.”
Dr. Matusiak: Right. Exactly.
Dr. Fox: I like this nice purple hue. Very nice. Wow. Amazing. Well, Christy, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate you taking the time and talking to us about what you do and about holistic care. I think it’s awesome. And I hope people seek you out, all my friends in the Chicagoland area. Hey, big shout out to you guys. She’s in your backyard, and you can seek her out in Wilmette, Illinois. Thank you so much.
Dr. Matusiak: Sounds great.
Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to the “Healthful Woman,” podcast. To learn more about our podcast, please visit our website at www.healthfulwoman.com that’s healthfulwoman.com. If you have any questions about this podcast or any other topic you would like us to address, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day. The information discussed in “Healthful Woman,” is intended for educational uses only, it does not replace medical care from your physician. Healthful Woman,” is meant to expand your knowledge of women’s health and does not replace ongoing care from your regular physician or gynecologist. We encourage you to speak with your doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan.