Arctic Chiropractric hires new full-time doctor
May 4, 2023
Dr. Steve Karm left the comforts of suburbia behind to roadtrip to Alaska and serve as the new chiropractor at Arctic Chiropractic.
"I was tired of waking up and looking out my window and not having something beautiful to look at other than (my wife)," Karm said. "When I drive, I don't want to pass strip mall after strip mall...I don't want to drive down the road and see 1,500 cars."
Karm has been a chiropractic physician since 1996 and owned a chiropractic practice in West Palm Beach, Florida for three years.
He was drawn to drugless care by the philosophy that the body has a natural ability to heal itself. His work just catalyzes the process, he said.
"There's a time and a place for surgery, there's a time and place for medication, but if you can let your body heal itself, why not?" Karm said.
Karm's first visit to Haines coincided with the fall bald eagle festival, a time when thousands of eagles gather along rivers in the Chilkat Valley north of Haines. He was "lucky" to have brought his camera, he said. Karm has been photographing wildlife since the onset of a lifelong scuba-diving passion in 1979, and spent the last four decades photographing and swimming with sharks.
"I really like photographing apex predators," Karm said. "People have this Hollywood image of sharks, they think they're maneaters. They're not. We're the last thing on their diet. They are afraid of us. We have to do so much work to get them to come in close to us to get a photo."
Karm said photographing bears may be a "learning curve," but he is up for the challenge.
"I'm not an adrenaline junkie, but I do want to get pictures for my friends back home that will challenge their idea of what a predator is," he said.
Karm did not bring his scuba gear to Haines, but would consider scuba diving further south of Haines once he is drysuit certified, he said. In the meantime, he will explore photographing tide pools.
Karm's wife Maria is still in Florida with their three dogs, but plans to join Karm by the end of the year. Maria felt intimidated by the idea of moving to Alaska, Karm said. She was born in the Caribbean and moved to Florida in her twenties.
"She had this perception of Alaska where everyone was walking around with their heads down in their jackets just trying to brace themself from the wind and snow," he said. "When she got here she was just blown away."
In April, the pair bought a van and roadtripped to Haines. They traversed the southern United States, journeyed up the Pacific Coast and boarded the ferry in Bellingham. Before the two-week trip, Maria had never camped before.
When they arrived in Haines, Maria had another first: she saw snow for the first time.
"I look out the front window, and see those big, beautiful fluffy flakes that aren't coming down sideways, they're just drifting down. The Christmas postcard stuff," Karm said. "I said to her, 'put your jacket on right now. Put your hat on.' She comes up front and doesn't say anything. She opens the front door, walks out onto Main Street, puts her tongue out and is spinning around and dancing with tears coming out of her eyes. That was the first time she saw snow."
Karm said his welcome to Haines has been unexpectedly kind. During his first visit, a stranger offered him five pounds of fresh halibut. Karm said he tried to offer him money, and the man refused.
"It's not the norm where I grew up and where I've been at," Karm said. "The generosity and the welcoming spirit is just heartwarming."
Another time, one of Karm's patients overheard that he planned to eat soup every night that week. She told him she was "worried" for him, and returned to his office with a home-cooked dinner.
Karm said he "has every intention of being here for the next three to five years."
"From what the owner told me, there have been a lot of people that come through and are temporary. That is not my intent," he said. "I am trying to find ways to be involved in the community, if I'm gonna live here I don't want to be an outsider."
Karm will follow in the footsteps of the previous chiropractor, Heather Harms. Harms practiced in Haines from January to March this year. Karm will also treat patients in Skagway every other weekend.