For Dr. Stan Marcus, the journey back into his own practice in Brentwood Bay was a long and arduous one.
Marcus, a long-time chiropractor on the Saanich Peninsula and in Victoria, recently opened a new storefront clinic in Brentwood Bay called SpineCare, his fourth office since starting on the Island back in 1994. He says he has worked a lot, travelled a lot and always found a way to make friends and maintain a busy practice.
That all changed a couple years ago when, not too long after returning home to the Island from a trip to the base camp at Mount Everest, he was struck down by an auto immune disease.
Called dermatomyostis, it affects the skin and muscles. It causes pain and muscle weakness and in some cases can lead to paralysis.
“I was in the best shape of my life at the time,” Marcus recalls. “And that’s what probably saved my life.”
The condition is rare and Marcus says doctors could only speculate how it got into his blood stream — probably from a virus. The treatment, he says, was the same as other auto-immune diseases: with heavy-duty steroids.
The weakness and treatment both meant Marcus would be confined to the hospital for five months.
“That was quite a journey,” he says, adding he always tries to remain positive — a trait he shares with his patients as much as possible.
Upon recovering enough to return home to the Peninsula, Marcus says he worked his way back to returning to work. And about a year ago, he tried it, only to be hit by the same condition a week or so later. He had lost 50 pounds the first time and was now forced to stay at home for another six months.
“Mentally, going through that for a second time was so frustrating, but I did what I could to stay occupied.”
Marcus says he contunued to try to stay healthy but he admits that going from being a doctor to being a patient was probably his most difficult adjustment.
“I always made what I thought were good choices. I had barely used the medical system but in this case I found it was great in saving my life.
“This has given me a better respect for what (doctors and nurses) do.”
While he still harbours some misgivings about traditional medicine, and tries to avoid drugs that simply mask problems, Marcus says there is still plenty to appeciate within the medical system.
“It was an interesting role, being a patient,” he says, noting that if doctors were prescribing things and could explain the reasons for it well, he was apt to go for it.
And education about a person’s health and explaining all of their treatment options has always been important to Marcus, especilly in his own practice.
His experience as a patient himself, he says, has given him new appreciation for being in need of help and how to be an advocate for one’s own well being.
After more than 30 years in the field, Marcus has re-opened his practice. His Brentwood Bay office officially opened June 1 and he’s welcoming back former patients and taking new ones.
Marcus adds he’s also taking it easy, working limited hours to begin with from Monday to Thursday.
“It’s just myself right now,” he says, “and I’m taking it one person at a time, helping others change their world.”