Dr. Rimka’s Personal Journey

“Your body tells me everything it wants me to know. I care enough to know how to listen.”

-Dr. Stephanie Joy Rimka

Life’s Journey

I grew up in Detroit as the youngest of four kids being raised by a single mom. We didn’t have any child support, and we didn’t have a long list of relatives to help us out. My mom is an only child who lost her father as a teenager.

Her own mother, my grandmother, had her own long life of confusion and trauma, and she did the best she could. My mother didn’t have her to rely upon for any help. So my mother did it all.

You learn a lot about grit, determination, self-reliance, teamwork, hard work, being tough, and even fighting when you come from the midwest, Detroit in particular. Being the youngest and smallest with a single mom without a lot of money to survive despite often working 2-3 jobs, you learn those lessons quickly.

Know Thyself

Over my 24 years in the health field, my clients have given me feedback on what they tell other people I do. They have called me: personal trainer, chiropractic psychologist, neurofeedback therapist, chiropractor, energy worker, pranic healer, functional medicine doctor, kinesiologist, spiritual advisor, brain trainer, and life coach.

Almost like my unique and diverse ethnic background which confuses people and makes me very hard to place into one box, I tend to be perceived by people as to whatever they need me to be in that moment for them. I’m good with that. I didn’t feel like the confusion was a problem.


I’m fortunate to collaborate with a lot of therapists and psychologists who refer to me. They noticed my unique blend of therapeutic approaches I take in working with my clients before I did. Once, one asked me who in my family struggled with certain issues because this therapist stated, “You must have grown up with it to be able to do what you do so well.”

This therapist was referring to the acceptance, patience, and commitment seen in caring for others in my practice. Reflecting upon this question created insight into how my early development created my current clinical style which blends these seemingly unrelated concepts together.

And, I am grateful for it. I decided early that I wanted “to be a doctor when I grow up” and gave that answer to any adult who asked. (Well, right after they explained that I could never be a jockey because I was already taller at age 7 than most adult male jockeys. That was devastating, but that’s another story.)

We were not some holistic, granola, natural, hippie family. My mom raised us on basic principles of the “4 Food Groups,” didn’t overload us with sugar, always cooked a hot breakfast, and lined us up for cod liver oil in the morning, but we ate regular food and Flintstone vitamins like everyone else. In fact, I actually ate the worst and had the poorest health of us all growing up. I was the youngest, so most rules didn’t apply to me!


Trauma is the Silver Lining

In high school, after playing a soccer game in the snow (yes, we do that in Michigan), instead of walking all the way to the gate, I did my usual climb to flip over the 6 foot wire mesh fence. At the top, my back muscles spasmed, and I lost control. Hitting the cold ground hurt. At some point over the next few days, the Tylenol that I was popping like candy wasn’t doing anything. I let my mother take me to the doctor. (I HATED going to any doctor so much that I would lie about how I felt all the time; ironic, I realize.) One B vitamin/muscle relaxer injection and painkiller pill bottle later, we went home to rest. The drugs knocked me out so hard that I slept that night, the entire next day, and that afternoon. The drugs made me feel terrible. I complained about it to my bff Naomi. She said, “Why don’t you go see my brother Keith? He’s a Chiropractor.” I replied, “What’s that?” I have no idea what she actually said, but I told my mom. Since she had seen one before and it helped her, she took me to see him. At 16 years old, I became a Chiropractic patient, and nothing was ever the same again.

Despite the incredible results, I was a pretty crappy patient. I didn’t comply very well, I would come and go depending upon my pain, I didn’t always do my rehab exercises, I used him as a band aid to patch me up after injury. Typical patient and typical teenager. He just kept serving and educating. No judging, only loving. Then, in a college soccer game, I ended up in the ER with a concussion. I don’t remember all the details. But we discovered later that I actually also broke two ribs and my L5 vertebrae while herniating the L5/S1 disc. I spent an entire summer on my back, getting adjusted, doing traction, trying to gain back the feeling in my entire leg, and crying in desperate fear as I often lost all motor control in my leg as well. It was a frightening time to be told I would never play sports again, and if I wasn’t careful during this time, could risk never walking again. And running was done.

Therefore, undergraduate college wasn’t the most fun time in my life. I listened to my doctors and decided team sports was too risky for my ultimate plans in life. I did rehab enough to play co-ed recreational league sports. But, this was still a great loss of joy for me. Add to it, I was plagued with a lot of mysterious illness after that injury. Significant amounts of chronic pain, fatigue, weight gain, depression, and foggy brain. This began a personal journey into figuring out how to heal myself since no one had an answer at the student health clinic. I dove into studying diets, supplements, weight training, and became a personal trainer for dozens of women on campus. It was a time of deep self reflection about my purpose and my true mission. I was deciding if I genuinely wanted to commit to medical school and took a year off to breathe after graduation.