One of the many great things I’ve discovered about blogging is the instant feedback. I have a page called “statistics” where I can see how many visitors I’ve had each day, and how many total views. I can also see what countries they are from (mostly from the UK, but countries from Finlnd to Saudi Arabia appear, and absolutely LOADS of Australians visit. (If the post gets shared on the Aussie Osteopathy Discussion Group Facebook page, the figures rapidly shoot sky high .)
Undoubtedly the most popular post ever, by some way, was the recent one on so-called cranial osteopathy. Sorry but I find it hard to refer to “cranial osteopathy” without some qualification as its very existence as anything distinct from osteopathy is in question. (This, of course, is part of the problem with the current skeptical antipathy to osteopathy. But I digress – off on my favourite tangent, again.) To date (one week after it was published, at the time of writing) that one blog has received over 2500 views – that’s a quarter of all the views that osteofm has had in its admittedly short lifetime – plus, exotically, I had a request for permission to translate it into Greek. It seems it’s not only me that wants to get clearer about what cranial is. I was gratified to have so much positive comment from osteopaths, many of whom thanked me for putting into words some of their thinking, and I also managed to connect with a couple of people who seem like they might actually be able to help to clear up some of my confusion. (yes I’m talking to you, Greg, and you Jerry, who seem like you have probably read more widely and thought further than I have on the subject).
Humour clearly goes down well, with Bluff your way into the Osteopathic Zeitgeist and Things that Make me Tense both proving popular. Interestingly, I think just about 100% of the comments and responses to the latter came from women. Don’t you men worry about the same things? Or maybe you just don’t admit to it. Guest blogs from male osteopaths able to enlighten the female osteopathic population are welcome.
The endorsement of Simon Singh, mathematician and “cranial” critic – (make up your own double meaning if there is one) – helped to boost the post about the lack of evidence for osteopathy in spectacular fashion . The one that I wrote right after our conversation “What I wish I’d said to Simon Singh” was also quite popular. In fact, I am extremely grateful to him, as he was the person that really kickstarted the blog. Despite describing it to me as one of the more outspoken alternative medicine blogs (uh oh!), he turned it from a fairly private hobby (read only by my friends, and a few, keen, twitter-friendly osteos) into something visible and credible on the public scene. So pleased with this connection, I am in danger of becoming a frequent name-dropper. However I did once know a lady who had a habit of constantly referring to “my good friend Steven Spielberg”, having exchanged a few words with him once at a charity reception. It impressed no-one. I have been warned.
While I thought that knowing your enemy was the first rule of the battlefield, osteopaths seem strangely disinterested in posts about the thinking of skeptics. But I’ll still keep publishing them regardless of the low viewing figures. They’re often my personal favourites. Arguably one of the more interesting posts, the review of Bad Science by Ben Goldacre wasn’t that popular with osteopaths, but was liked and shared by non-osteopaths. Maybe you’ve all read the book already? And I would still urge anyone to read my account of a talk by Edzard Ernst which challenged my assumptions, confounded my beliefs (mostly about him), and stimulated me to think more critically.
Accounts of the General Osteopathic Council Meetings are quite popular, even though they are only directly relevant to UK osteopaths. I think GOsC Awareness is a very good thing, and maybe I am just a bit geeky, but I find the meetings truly interesting and realise I knew next to nothing about the GOsC before I went to them. Thanks to shares by some of the Council Members , the blog on consent was also a big hit. (And no I still don’t do it properly every time, but I’m getting there).
Osteopaths clearly delight in osteopathy: doing it, discussing it, debating it, defending it – yes I have been helping my son make up alliterative rhyming couplets for his year 4 homework – and unfortunately here my nervousness about revealing my own clinical deficiencies has prevented me from posting many blogs relating to clinical practice, as I am totally unprepared and unwilling to engage with the immediate comeback from all those dedicated clinicians out there with a far deeper understanding of their specialist subjects. Yes I have been admonished for my lack of understanding of pain science, and my characterisation of osteopaths out there just “clicking and rubbing all day”. Rightly so.
So where to go from here? Every time I wonder if it’s worth still carrying on with these blogs (it’s fun, but time consuming, and and I don’t even get paid!) I get encouragement from someone, somewhere, via a random email or at a social event, who tells me to “keep up the blogs”. And I honestly enjoy it too much not to keep on while I can spare the time. And so many blogs still to write I can’t keep up with them: there’s the one on fibromyalgia reseach, the review of 2 papers on safety of neck manipulation, the insight into what it’s like to be an osteo in America, and next there’s learning podcasting, nterviewing people, osteopaths directly sharing their experiences…
What began as my own attempt to educate myself (whilst keeping notes) has become a labour of love with unintended benefits. I feel like the osteopathic world has opened up to me. Yes I’m living it large, osteopathically speaking. I have met loads of great people in the world of osteopathy, and dipped my toe into the worlds of physio and research. I have read IJOM cover to cover, discovered APS Therapy, been invited to an NCOR meeting, and have got involved in helping with research in a minor way – an unrealised ambition of mine for years. I realise that there is a lot of talent and enthusiasm out there. But there is also great scope for more interconnectedness. It is a small profession, as they go, and potentially can become a very highly skilled and highly informed group. An elite unit, I like to think.
So thanks to everyone who has been so incredibly positive and welcoming and encouraging. I never expected this back last May when I began it, but for the time being at least – onwards and upwards.