PORT TOWNSEND – Once upon a time there were two married chiropractors who hoped to start a new life in the West: open a clinic, take care of people, raise their families.
Kalispell, Mont., Was one place where Drs. Janel and Jim Carlson considered.
“But the bank didn’t want to finance the business plan,” recalls Janel.
The couple came to Port Townsend with daughters Sara, 10 months, and Melissa, 2. The first answer from the bank there was: “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
Janel didn’t expect to hear anything. But then she did.
“They are the kind of young people we want in our town,” said the banker.
That was 50 years ago, and Janel well remembers crying at the news that she and Jim had the bank’s support. They bought Dr. George Tietsort on Lawrence Street and moved into the upstairs apartment. In August 1971, “we didn’t even have a car,” added Janel.
This month she and her daughter Dr. Melissa Carlson-Michaels half a century of chiropractic – and intergenerational – care.
“It is a privilege to still serve the people my parents served. And we’re having grandchildren from some of the originals, ”said Melissa.
Mother and daughter, aged 74 and 52, both work in a profession in which they experience the human body’s ability to heal itself. They are guided by the principle that there is no separation between mind and body and that back pain can affect many other aspects of life.
The joy of this practice, said Janel, comes when a patient says to her after chiropractic adjustments: “I just feel lighter.”
“I love getting to the bottom of things,” added Melissa.
By relieving back pain, people sleep better and have more energy, she said; it’s only natural.
Janel graduated from the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 1970; Melissa graduated from the Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic in Spartanburg, SC to complete her PhD in 2002.
“I am at home – both in my community and in my life purpose,” she writes on the Carlson Chiropractic website.
Melissa adds, before she became a chiropractor, she taught middle and high school students in health, nutrition, and child development.
“I realized that today’s children have many health and health challenges that I, as a teacher, could not manage,” she writes.
“This strong desire to do more for children and their families has brought me back to my roots,” said the daughter, great-granddaughter and niece of chiropractors.
Over the years, both Melissa and Janel have volunteered in a variety of roles including the Grant Street Elementary PTA and the Port Townsend School Board.
“Board work was kind of my hobby,” said Janel, adding that she is lucky enough to live and work in Port Townsend.
She and Jim are no longer married and he has moved away while Janel, who retired from full-time practice in 2010, continues to treat some patients from time to time. She also helps Melissa with paperwork for the clinic.
“It’s very nice to have relationships with patients. What a gift, ”said Janel.
Last year when the pandemic set in, many elderly people isolated themselves at home, Melissa added, but they came to see her. She feels immensely privileged to provide practical care.
At the same time, Melissa has met entire families and is happy that her children are learning healthy habits.
Your message to anyone struggling with pain: you don’t have to wait until you are completely unhappy to come for treatment.
“Your body is the only car you can drive,” so it makes sense to keep it in good shape, she quipped.
Both Melissa and Janel want to keep doing what they do: getting in touch with people.
“I love life where it is,” said Janel.
Jefferson County’s senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz is at 360-417-3509 or. to reach