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From the Desk of Marty Schaffel: A Path to Pain-Free

When I was 32, I had a severe problem with my back. I had a herniated disc and severe sciatic pain down my right side. When I would get out of my car, I would drop to my knees in pain. 

I went to see a neurosurgeon and begged him to operate. I told him I could no longer go on this way, and I needed help and substantial change – things could not go on as they were. The neurosurgeon told me that he could operate on me if I chose, but he also advised me that it might work – and it might not. He warned me that there were significant risks if he operated. 

Instead, he suggested that I spend four months doing physical therapy, stretching and swimming. He said that if I got up every day and did the right things, my existing situation likely would be fixed, and he would not need to operate. But if that did not work out, we would always have the surgical option. 

I did what he said. I got up every day and proceeded to stretch and swim. Within four months, the symptoms were gone, the pain was gone and the disc slid back in place. I have been pain-free ever since. 

The same goes for the ASHA working towards our initiatives.  As we sit here amid our in-person Fall Board of Directors meeting, I am inspired by the collective effort to commit to getting better every day.  I see our committees reporting progress towards their goals, ASHA, and ASR staff sharing their immense efforts to accomplish objectives set forth by the Board and the leadership of both the ASHA, ASR, UPHA and ASB Museum committing to making the everyday effort to make our breed community better. Yes, there has been pain. Yes, we have had issues. And yes, we all still want to make changes. But, as we sit around the table and present our work and ideas, we create a dialogue to find common ground and create positive collaborations. 

I believe, much like what the neurosurgeon said to me about my back, that if we work together to do the right things, we can resolve our pain together. And if we truly work together instead of battle among ourselves, we can create a much better future for ASHA, our professionals, breeders and owners. 

If, after truly making our best effort to work together to resolve the issues causing our pain, and it does not work, then we should pursue surgery. But for now, let’s work together to fix what we have.

Marty Schaffel, ASHA Interim President

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