Bones, Archaeology and Adventure: One man with many facets
Dr. Mark Thompson has had a lifelong interest in education. His approach to chiropractic, both as a provider and educator, reflect this commitment. But before chiropractic came into view, Dr. Thompson had his own brush with navigating the complex aspects of health and wellness.
Dr. Thompson was always a very physical person, engaging in body building, power lifting, wrestling, and mountain climbing. At age 19, he injured his lower back while wrestling and went for surgery to fix a herniated disc. The surgery failed and doctors recommended more surgery. At the time, he knew nothing about chiropractic. He was told there was nothing that could be done.
While Thompson lived over a decade with chronic leg and back pain, he fundamentally refused to be inactive. He remained physically active. It was a bicycle collision, where he walked away with another herniated disc and a seriously injured shoulder, which changed his course. He saw a chiropractor for his neck and the chiropractor worked on his entire body. The results were stunning. He was pain free for the first time in over 10 years.
“This experience was what ultimately led me to attend Life Chiropractic College West in 1985, where I graduated in 1991. I started my own practice, Fitwell Chiropractic Sports Medicine in Noe Valley, where I working with athletically minded individuals,” explained Dr. Thompson.
And then in 2004, things shifted dramatically. The height of success and the challenges of his health came together in that year. San Francisco Magazine named him as one of The 150 Best Doctors in the SF Bay Area and one the three best chiropractors in the bay area. Additionally, he was named San Francisco Bay Guardian 2004’s Best Chiropractor in San Francisco Bay Area. While his business was in peak condition, his body was not. Dr. Thompson had extensive degenerative joint disease in most of his extremities. After having a shoulder and knee replaced that year, he was forced to sell his successful business because he couldn’t physically do the work required of a chiropractor anymore.
2005 led Thompson down a new path toward education. Dr. Thompson was hired for an academic position teaching anatomy at Life West. But at the time, he wasn’t just a teacher; he was a student too. He spent the next decade obtaining his master’s degree in Bioanthropology and Archaeology on the side. As part of his thesis project, Dr. Thompson did a research project called ‘Preparing Human Skeletons for Research and Teaching: Producing Dry Bone Osteology Collections from Preserved Human Cadaveric Tissue’. While those years were magical in his mind, his body endured several joint replacement procedures including two shoulders, two hips and two knees. Even with all those challenges, Thompson focused on the students at Life West as his biggest reward of his path. Receiving the Teacher of the Year honor eight times in a decade has been so memorable to him.
After suffering so many physical setbacks, he picked himself up after each time and moved forward. Dr. Thompson explains, “My mother and father instilled in their children a sense of always wanting to learn and understand. They also said that if we wanted something; we had to focus in it and do whatever it took to get there.”
Dr. Thompson is a perfect example of what you can achieve with a positive attitude, determination and a smile. Look for an extended interview with Dr. Thompson in the upcoming issue of Life Styles Magazine available in July 2015.