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Sunday, October 16, 2005

How Fear Affects Health

Coming up next month, the topic for the Wellness Resource Group is "The Power of Fear in Health Care." I'd like to discuss how health care decisions are made when fear interferes with our understanding of the issues and the effectiveness of informed consent. Some medical procedures considered "Standard of Care" do not sit well with people. Does this strike a chord with you? Join us in the discussion, November 3rd at 6PM. For folks who are not local, contact me about joining in on a teleclass. In the meantime, I found a website that addresses fear:

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Monday, October 10, 2005

What If Blockbuster Had Insurance?

(View the Calendar of Events at Ask about joining in on a teleconference if you are not local.)

It’s a cold rainy night as you splash your way into the local movie rental to pick up a few DVD’s for the weekend. After you gather some new releases you take out the laminated blue card that lets you take home your favorites. The clerk who rings up your rentals looks at your account and sees that you have already seen your limit of action flicks and you are almost at the end of your drama allotment. “That’s not fair,” you tell the clerk. “I do not like comedies. Why can’t I see more action movies instead?” The clerk tells you he doesn’t make the decisions. It’s not based on an individual’s taste. The policies are set forth in the handy movie insurance guide book provided by the local entertainment association.

This is a story of an idea that looked good on paper but defeated its own purpose. Once upon a time movie rental insurance was established that would revolutionize how movies would be promoted to the public. For a monthly insurance premium, the policy owner is allowed to take home a certain number of movies. The premium is established by a committee that studies how often people rent movies. The policies are set so there will always be a supply of movies available for taking home. Sometimes a new release is so popular that there are not enough copies to handle the demand. Some people go without, but they still pay the same premium each month. It almost appears as if the committee purposely runs out of copies of a certain movie so there is a waiting list. The movie rental company makes more profit because fewer movies are circulating even though the customers pay full price. Not long ago, the movie rental company added a surcharge for DVD’s. Not only did the customers pay a premium every month, they also had to pay more out of their pocket for each rental. Lately, a small group of customers who felt they were treated poorly cancelled their movie insurance. They pooled their money and purchased movies they wanted. They took turns watching them. They were pleased with their decision because they had control over their choices. They were also assured that the DVD’s were in good condition. Some families realized they were saving money and could afford going to the theatre. They liked it better because the theatre staff was nicer and always made them feel welcome. Another group of former customers decided the whole movie business was becoming a nuisance and they looked elsewhere for entertainment. Music performances, book clubs and bowling nights were more fulfilling. Some members of this group found it more interesting to participate in activities rather than just sit passively in front of a TV screen. They didn’t even miss the movies. More and more customers are appreciating the variety of entertainment options available and could not believe they were once in such a rut.

Fibromyalgia: Do Away With That Absurd Word

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This is the typical scenario: someone goes to the doctor with a complaint of pain and chronic fatigue. The condition is debilitating and disrupting. Blood tests and other laboratory work find nothing that requires urgent medical intervention. The person’s presentation does not fit any other disease. Fibromyalgia is the “next best diagnosis.”

This essay was not written to present the history of fibromyalgia or review the signs and symptoms but to confront the unique dilemma that has made fibromyalgia so puzzling. Why has a so called disease that is supposedly non-life threatening ruined careers, destroyed marriages, and forced people to apply for disability assistance? Are we looking for the answer with the wrong map?

Consider alternative medicine since it has grown into a huge wellness industry. Medical journals have noted that people visit more alternative health care practitioners than traditionally based medical physicians. They are even paying for this care out of pocket. A change of attitude has brought people at a crossroads. Those who address their health care questions with alternative medical practitioners are taking a different direction, blazing a new path.

These practitioners are teaching a new definition of health. More accurately, they are reviving the long ago professed understanding that health needs to be nurtured rather than “confronted” like a school yard bully. The human body is very capable of surviving and thriving under appropriate conditions. Inappropriate conditions are known as stress. The new job is to figure our how to return back to those appropriate conditions.

Fibromyalgia sufferers have been on the merry-go-round of dissatisfaction for a long time. Their concerns are ignored. They are told to get used to it. “Go see a shrink to help you cope…” It is not yet an epidemic, so why be bothered? Yet, we have another epidemic to deal with: the consequences of stress. Maybe those with fibromyalgia have a lesson to teach us. For example, stress is not good for the heart. Someone with a heart condition is told to get on the treadmill and come back later for an angioplasty. Heart disease is very apparent. Looking at the heart has become easy. A person knows right away his or her heart attack risk. People with fibromyalgia, also suffering from stress, are faced with a bigger challenge. On their own they have to search for information about treatment alternatives. Because fibromyalgia is a syndrome, someone usually has to go to multiple practitioners, each one addressing a different symptom. They become detectives on a personal search for a better understanding of their situation.

The public is aware of stress. We know it is unhealthy. Sometimes we give it lip service because we do not see effects of stress until something severe happens. Fibromyalgia is another example of the effects of stress. But, there is no early detection test for it. A machine to monitor its progression has not been invented yet.

A better approach is to look at the person who is dealing with fibromyalgia. What can we learn by exploring the person’s strengths, weaknesses, attitude, living situation, etc.? The person gets overlooked when we are fixated on identifying and naming a disease. There is too much emphasis on the disease rather than the person who has the disease. Return to the beginning. What did we start with? A person. We have a person living his or her life. All of a sudden life changes. These folks are facing a different challenge that makes it difficult to live their original life style. Their old ways of functioning became incompatible and an “overload” was created. The challenge now is to figure out what contributed to the overload. The process requires adopting a life style most often endorsed by the alternative health care practitioners who are teaching the “renewed” definition of health. Because fibromyalgia does not affect each sufferer in an identical way, I prefer to do away with the word fibromyalgia. Once again, let’s get back to the individual and focus on the challenge he or she is facing. Managing the stress overload is a better protocol than accepting a disheartening label. Disregard the name of the disease and reframe the circumstances as a challenge to seek out a better way of living. It is still an arduous task, but the attitude is that of managing with empowerment and pride rather than the outlook of immobilized victim.

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What I Learn From My Toddler

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When you see Eirne running around the office, you see his actions inspired by a curious mind. He is a keen observer and constantly tries new things. How soon that trait is lost!! At what age do we become the robot-like conformists? Kindergarten? We are conditioned to stop exploring and wait for someone else to teach us. Later in adulthood our routines turn into ruts. Often I am watching the fresh spirit of my son and I vow to make sure this attribute is not squelched. This is something we all want of our children. While we don’t want to cross the extremes and create children who are out of control or too withdrawn to enjoy life, we want them to be inquisitive and creative. One way to do that is to be good examples for them. We need to continue our love of learning. It is an important part of living a long and full life. Intellectual development plays a part in our health as well. A mind that no longer thirsts for stimulation is more prone to disease. I invite you to take a bigger role in your chiropractic care by developing a wellness plan. Your nervous system is enhanced as you strive for new goals. Your adjustment helps spark new nervous system connections. With more nerve connections forming, your brain and body thrives in spite of the stress around us. Don’t forget the Wellness Resource Group for ideas and inspiration. The format has changed so we can accomplish more at one meeting.

Remove the Blocks That Slow You Down

September is a great time to get back into gear. Summer is winding down, the kids are back in school, and we resume a more balanced routine. With this mind set, it is time to update wellness plans. Dr. Homic is going to ask you to consider any healthful changes you would like to make that can be easily incorporated in you chiropractic care. This is part of her wellness coaching program that she is introducing. Subluxation care and prevention are best achieved when your life outside the office is “in line” with your chiropractic care. The speed of your progress depends on what happens in between visits. Subluxations block our ability to heal. In a similar way there are other blockages that we can work on removing so optimal function and balance shine in our lives.

It is important to set aside some quiet time to decide what wellness goals need attention. Dr. Homic’s coaching will help you prioritize them and design a realistic plan to put into action. During this quiet time, write down where you feel you have “blockages.” Consider all aspects of your daily life and how you have lived this past year:

**Evaluate your mental and physical health.

**Evaluate how you spend your time at work and at play,

**How do you treat your relationships?

**How do you handle money?

**How content are you in your life’s calling?

**Are you being nudged by a different calling?

**How do you describe your connection with your creator and the rest of the world?

These are not typical questions asked in a doctor’s office.

Chiropractic Wellness is about evolving. It’s time to stop asking, “How is your pain?” The wellness question is, “How much can I achieve?”

How Dr. Dean Ornish Gets Remarkable Results

How many cardiologists talk about eating better and exercising more? Everyone is talking about it!! Did you know 95% of heart patients do not change their life style even when facing a close call with death? Amazing enough, Dr. Dean Ornish has reversed heart disease and published very impressive statistics. Dr. John McDougall has a wellness center at a resort spa providing a 10 day stay to help people rediscover vibrant health. His program is also very highly acclaimed. They have remarkable results because they empathize with human behavior. They provide extraordinary ongoing support. Dr. Ornish’s program also focuses on relationships and spirituality. The Ornish program uses social leverage because relationships are wonderful motivators. While we can’t easily give up our jobs to attend a residential program to receive the kind of support needed to restore health, Dr. Homic has a wellness planning and coaching program available. Inquire about consultations, group coaching which is discounted, and individual coaching sessions, as well.