‘As The Twig Is Bent, So Groweth The Tree’
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WATER VALLEY – On New Year’s Eve in 2010 Dr. G.R. Orndorff Jr. faced a life-changing decision. He had practiced four years in a chiropractic clinic in Jackson, working for a close friend and mentor when a call came from Yalobusha Health Service (YHS) about coming to work in Water Valley.
The offer was not totally unexpected, Dr. Paul Odom had taken an interest in Dr. G’s career and helped initiate the conversation. They were acquainted through Dr. Odom’s service as medical director for the Mississippi State Veteran’s Home in Oxford where Dr. G’s mother also worked part-time as a registered nurse. The two families are longtime friends.
“Dr. Odom had known me for at least six years before I came here. He knew my mom and maybe my work ethic,” Dr. G surmised.
Dr. Odom pitched the idea to expand the footprint at YHS with the addition of a chiropractor to the late Terry Varner, who served as the YHS administrator. Dr. Odom also talked to the hospital board about bringing Dr. G to YHS.
“Terry wanted to provide this service so patients would not have to go out of town,” Dr. G continued. “He called me on New Year’s Eve with the offer.”
“Dr. Odom took a chance on me. When I first got here he would stop by to tell me I was doing a good job. He helped me out a lot. It was a God thing, this was meant to happen,” he recalled about that decision in 2010. During the dozen years that have followed, Dr. G has launched a strong practice, become imbedded in the community and started his family here. But that is getting ahead in the story.
Dr. G grew up in Mobile, Ala. and earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at the University of Mississippi. As a student he also juggled three part-time jobs – a bruising schedule that provides insight about the reference to his work ethic. Next he enrolled in Palmer College of Chiropractic in Florida, an intense year-round school for 13 quarters, or three and one-quarter years.
“The first day we were in cadaver lab,” he continues about his education at Palmer that culminated with the final segment of a four-part series to obtain national board certification. From there he moved to Jackson and started working with Dr. David Tullos. Early in his career Dr. G envisioned taking over that clinic when his former boss retired. He credits much of his initial experience to Tullos’ bustling practice where they would see hundreds of patients a week.
“I saw a lot there, Jackson was a busy environment,” he explains. “But the main thing I learned from Dr. Tullos was about my Christian walk. He is a good Christian guy who helped me.”
Coming to YHS, Dr. G enjoys an environment that allows him to treat patients as timely as possible. He is often able to provide treatment the same day a first-time patient visits the clinic.
“If I were in pain, I would like to be adjusted the first day,” he explains. There are exceptions and if a patient needs an X-ray before treatment, he sends them to Odom Rural Health Clinic.
“As soon as they take the X-ray, it comes to my computer typically allowing me to see them within hours,” he explains.
He treats patients with any spinal-related condition – lower back pain, neck pain, radicular pain from the neck to the hand and others.
“A lot of people think of pain when they come to me. A lot of times the symptoms don’t appear before the condition has already occurred. If we can catch the condition before the symptoms, you can live a better life,” he adds.
He also notes that not everyone attributes some symptoms to spinal-related problems, citing a child in Jackson who came to him because he was wetting the bed later than a normal age.
“I adjusted the L4 and L5 area lower lumbar, those nerves to go to those organs,” he added about the problem. After two adjustments, the child quit wetting the bed.
“A pinched nerve is what I deal with most of the time. A vertebrae out of place pinches the nerve and causes symptoms,” Dr. G continues.
Another example from his time in Jackson was a lady who experienced chronic pain that was so severe she had even contemplated ending her life.
“I was able to help her. She told me after the first visit, she knew she was in the right place,” he recalled about her appointment that came after visiting numerous doctors searching for relief.
Treatment ranges from newborns to end of life. His son, Spencer, was only 30 minutes old when he had his first adjustment 16 months ago.
“Spencer has only been sick twice in his life. One time it was a stomach virus and the other time he had a cold. As the twig is bent, so groweth the tree,” he explains.
Outside of the clinic, Dr. G enjoys his friends in the community – especially through his love of music. He is a member of First Baptist Church where he plays in the praise band. He got involved with the church’s music ministry after Music Minister Eric Fearing sent out a letter notifying children of the availability of guitar lessons at the church.
“I reached out to let him know I have guitars available if a child didn’t have one and wanted to learn to play,” Dr. G recalled. And with an ample supply of guitars in his collection, he was not hesitant about loaning a couple of them to the church.
Dr. G. is also a member of the 4For1 band with Mike Todd and Andy Hall. They play at local venues, mostly for fun. But his music time slowed some when the long-time bachelor married Angie in 2020 and they welcomed Spencer 11 months later.
“That will change your life,” the comical chiropractor joked with acknowledgment that as a long-time bachelor having a child had not been on the horizon.
“I am really good friends with Daniel (Martin). When I was around his family and he would pray, Daniel would always say ‘Thank you for the joy from these children that you have given us.’ I didn’t really see it, but now firsthand I see it. I understand what he was saying. It is a lot of joy, it is a lot of work at 43,” Dr. G explains.
Dr. G sees patients from Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 6 and on Fridays from 8 am. until noon. When he leaves the clinic on Friday afternoons, he enjoys time with his son, Spencer.
“Being able to come home to a loving family, that is a true blessing,” he added about his wife and son.