OTTUMWA — The straight "A" high school student and talented bowler could not stop the migraines. But they stopped her.
Over a decade later, Dr. Tara Gooden still remembers pulling the sheets over her head to block out the light and the pain that kept her from living her life. Doctors seemed stumped, she said, and the medication they gave her had unpleasant side effects.
"Nothing was helping," said the 2005 Ottumwa High School graduate.
The resolution to her agony is what lead her both to study chiropractic and to open Gooden Family Chiropractic in Ottumwa.
"It was the only thing that helped me," she said of those long ago visits to an Ottumwa chiropractor. "I felt like chiropractic was the only thing that got to the root of the cause."
Her pounding headaches responded to the adjustments to her spine. She went on with her life, including going to Drake for what were going to be her pre-med classes; she has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, and another in biology. Her parents were proud that she was all set to enter medical school. So they were a bit surprised by her decision to attend chiropractor school instead.
"I know how much it helped me, and that's what I've always wanted to do: Something in the medical field, something to help people," she said.
She graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in June; she's done plenty of clinical work, including a stint serving the poor in Brazil and an internship in Windsor Height. She did some extra schooling, too: She wanted to be certified to work with children as well as pregnant women; she's now a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association.
When the spine is out of alignment, one can feel back or neck problems. More than that, she explained, the nerves that go to the various organs and other body parts can't communicate correctly. Sufferers can feel numbness in their hands, problems with blood pressure and, of course, headaches. She is not tasked with "curing those" illnesses. She adjusts the spine until the nervous system is back in alignment, and the body can begin to heal itself.
Her tool box includes diagnostic equipment, like x-rays and more modern types of imaging to get an idea of where a patient is starting, that is, what their "baseline" is. She has adjusting tables and exercises for patients. And though she's physically strong, she said that's not the key to adjusting her patients; it's training, experience and good technique.
No referral is needed for a visit, and Dr. Gooden's staff can check to see what your benefits cover, she said.
"I'm excited to be a new business owner in Ottumwa, so I can educate and help people in the town I love."
— To follow reporter Mark Newman on Twitter, see @CourierMark