OTHELLO — Dr. Rudy Dabalos, a chiropractor in this community, retired a few years ago. But he continues to work as he nears 75 and is planning a new business related to his career field.
“Our parents instilled in me and my brothers a work ethic so strong that all of us continue to work after we’ve reached 70,” Dabalos said.
Another reason Dabalos continues to work is that his elderly patients tell him he can’t quit until after they die.
Like many Hispanics, the Dabalos brothers – and sisters – starting working as children. They are part of a family that worked the sugar beets in Wyoming before moving to Wapato in 1943.
“At five, I was helping my mother training hops,” the doctor said. “I did everything there was to do in hops. When I was 10, I remember, I put on a belt and starting picking potatoes.”
All of the Dabalos siblings experienced the same life. They thinned, hoed and topped the beets their uncle Tony Cárdenas raised in the Wapato area. The brothers were known as the best fruit tree grafting team.
“My father would tell us that work wouldn’t hurt us,” the doctor said.
During those same years, the grandparents and parents encouraged the children to attend school and study.
“Mom would say: You want to do this all of your life or would you like something better?’” Dabalos said. “Naturally we wanted something better.”
Graduating from high school, Rudy, planned to become a school teacher. But he wrecked his car, and that cost him the money intended for college.
As a second option, Rudy joined the U.S. Army. He was based in Germany in 1961 when the Soviet Union started to build the Berlin Wall.
“They didn’t allow us to go there because we were under high alert,” the doctor said.
After the Army, Rudy took a job with the Washington State Department of Agriculture in Moses Lake. He planned a long career as an inspector, but a back injury in 1971 changed his life.
After a year of treatments by physicians, the pain persisted. At a Catholic men’s retreat, another participant told Rudy to go to the first doctor mentioned to him when he returned to Moses Lake. That was Dr. Dan Dean, a chiropractor in Othello. Dean referred him to Dr. Jack Elvidge in Spokane.
“After 10 visits, I was straightened out,” Dabalos said. “It was then that I thought: Maybe this is what the Lord wants me to do.”
Rudy studied at Palmer Chiropractic College in Iowa four years and returned to Moses Lake to launch his career. He opened his first clinic at the defunct Larson Air Force Base, moved to Sharon and Pioneer and finished on East Broadway. He treated nearly 10,000 patients, he said. Now his twin daughters are chiropractors.
It was because of one of these daughters, Sheila, that the doctor opened a second clinic in Othello. Studying at Palmer, she’d fallen in love with another student, Rob Simmons. When they were graduating and planning to marry, Rob called the doctor to learn if there was a place for him to start.
There wasn’t, but the doctor quickly created one. He bought Dean’s clinic from his widow. He operated it for three months, building it to 90 patients per week. Taking over after three months, Rob grew it to more than 200 while Sheila worked with her father.
After a few years, doctors Rob and Sheila bought the clinic from Dabalos. Sheila continued to work with her father until she completed 10 years. Then she joined her husband at Simmons Family Chiropractic.
“She learned more working with me,” Dabalos said.
Later, when Dabalos was contemplating retirement, his daughter and son-in-law suggested he work with them part time, and he agreed.
“I’m going to work as long as I can,” he said.
But the work may not remain the same. Dabalos is putting together a traveling presentation by which to share his years of experience and knowledge at seminars and workshops. He wants to travel the U.S. with his wife Carlotta and work at the same time.
Chances are, Dabalos’ plan will work out. Chiropractors are required to take 25 hours of continuing education per year, and Dabalos is highly respected in the field.
Dabalos uses techniques that others may not even know. Applied kinesiology is one. He was in the first class of 12 at Palmer to learn it. It’s no longer taught there.
According to Dabalos, not everything that can be healed though chiropractic is known. He has treated hiatal hernias, allergies and carpal tunnel.
“A headache is not a deficiency of Tylenol,” Dabalos said. “It’s telling you something is wrong. We have to find out what it is.”
One Dabalos recommendation that may surprise is that babies delivered by cesarean section should be taken to a chiropractor as quickly possible. He said he final step of cranial development – crowning – occurs when the baby goes through the birth canal.
“This final step does not take place with cesarean section, and that can result in a mis-shaped head,” the doctor said.
Simmons and Dabalos offer a class about chiropractic every two weeks at Simmons Family Chiropractic for patients and persons who wish to learn more. It’s located at 361 Main St. in Othello. The phone number is 509-488-3346.