“You Deserve Better”
In his despair, the dying patient wished he had taken better care of himself. In this case it was a medical doctor who had been sick for decades. “I would trade all the success, money, and accolades for just one day of being healthy,” he cried. Soon he passed on, dying much too young.
Is it as simple as just taking proper care of yourself? I don’t think so. What if you followed all of your medical doctor’s advice and still had failing health? What if the medical community’s way of looking at what health really is was incomplete? A functional medicine practitioner shared with me how a surgeon asked him to teach the surgeon how to be healthy. “We don’t learn how to be healthy in medical school,” the surgeon confessed.
Proper posture (less common in a world immersed in ever-present technology), sufficient intake of water, regular exercise – such as going for walks, and learning to reduce stress and relax are the golden ticket to lasting health. The added benefit to a healthier you are healthier relationships.
The beauty of chiropractic is checking your nervous system to see what your body truly reveals about your present and future. Make it an ever better, healthier one!
“Hitting the Wall”
Ever feel stuck in any area of your life? Perhaps your relationships are in a rut, your weight loss program is stuck – perhaps even in reverse. Your fitness program may now be a vague memory. There are countless areas we can get stuck. Getting unstuck isn’t easy and it isn’t supposed to be.
Whether you are a religious person or not, the Bible is full of wise advice. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction.” Since this is a health-based article, what if destruction is bad health?
A young woman I know recently decided to” enter through the narrow gate” and she lost over 80 lbs. She cleaned up her diet and eliminated overeating, especially carbohydrates. She kicked up her fitness program consistent with an Olympian. She even worked on improving her posture to reflect that of a healthy person. Unexpectedly, everything suddenly came to a grinding halt. Dieting, visits to the gym and, unfortunately, weight loss stopped.
So few consistently watch their diet as well as exercise regularly. If someone is eating crappy food, not exercising and seriously neglecting their health, it can become easier to rationalize (rational lies!) slacking off. Yes, it takes sacrifice and commitment for the best you to show up consistently. Any of us can briefly show off our best. Can you be your best more of the time?
Chiropractic care is entering “through the narrow gate.” It requires dedication to becoming your best self. It’s so much easier to just take a pill. You are smart enough to know you can’t take a pill to instantly become youthful. Yet many believe they can take a prescription pill and experience wellness and good health. Commit to be your best through sacrifice, self-discipline, and sheer determination to push past “the wall”.
“The Best Form of Control is Self-Control”
An old friend expressed her frustrations openly. “He drives me crazy! He is so cheap!” I didn’t know him. I do know that a coin has two sides and we have access to both sides. A person may be cheap in one area and generous in another. I challenged my friend by telling her everyone is cheap about something. “Not me,” she responded, “I am definitely not cheap about anything.” With further questioning she admitted she is cheap about buying coffee or tea. She would rather stop at a filthy gas station where tea or coffee is under a dollar than spend $4.00 at a spruced-up Starbucks. Just as we are cheap as well as generous, we can be smart about many things and stupid about others.
Is it possible to be really smart yet stupid about your health? I see it all the time. It starts with giving up responsibility for your health to another person, be it your doctor or spouse. Stay in charge. Wheeling Hospital was recently charged by the Department of Justice for condoning unnecessary surgeries to improve their bottom line. Their advisor was the former CEO of the beloved Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. On the pharmaceutical front, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, who jointly sell the drug Xarelto, had to pay out $775 Million to settle over 25,000 lawsuits. Apparently, they failed to warn people that bleeding to death was a significant side effect!
Drugs always have side effects, whether you feel them or not. And, surgery is never minor. This is one case where “never” applies. Stay in charge of you and your health. You know most of the rules to being healthy. Those rules, unfortunately, cannot be beaten. Overcome. Be patient. Advocate for yourself. And remember, the best form of control is self-control.
“Under Lock and Key West”
While vacationing in Key West recently it was hard not to stare at the young man and his bikini clad girlfriend on the chaise lounges next to the pool. Actually, my eyes were drawn towards the young man in his early 30’s. I couldn’t help but notice the IV port in his abdomen along with an electronic gizmo taped slightly above the port. The port was readily recognizable since I have a daughter with Type I diabetes and she has used an insulin pump for decades. The “gizmo” was a more recently invented technological device which reads blood sugar levels instantly and then communicates with his insulin pump. After discussing the device plugged into his belly, I was more interested in just how he developed Type I diabetes. Parents, please pay attention to what follows. Here is his story:
At age 15 he suddenly and unexplainably became sickly. This lasted for a persistent 3 months. The treatment was the standard pediatric handout of antibiotics on and off. At the end of 3 months of this treatment, his body attacked his pancreas resulting in an autoimmune disorder simply known as Type I diabetes. I can relate since I have two kids who reacted to a single dose of antibiotics resulting in Type I diabetes. It may only take one dose to trigger such a response.
It is so easy to think the side effects of medicines, particularly antibiotics, won’t happen to you or your child. Unfortunately, when some side effects develop, they are irreversible and lifelong. If you like gambling, take them. Saying, “But I needed them” is likely an overstatement. Sorry if that was harsh. We are heading towards a time when antibiotics will be under lock and key, given out only to the sickest of the sick. Currently every time a person takes an antibiotic it affects our entire society resulting in community-wide antibiotic resistance. And you thought the opioid epidemic was bad? Change is coming soon.
“The Old Man and the Pool”
An old man, appearing to be in his early to mid-80’s, walked back and forth in the pool next to Biscayne Bay. Looking reasonably fit and quite tan, he looked good for his age. (When anyone tells me “You look good for your age” I appreciate the compliment but realize they still told me I look old.) This elderly man was putting the work in, having a regimen of swimming that he performs regularly. When told he looked good for his age, his responded with a hearty, “As long as I stay independent and free, I’m OK. Lose my independence and I want out of here ASAP.”
As we age, independence is a worthy goal and like any other accomplishment it requires putting the work in. I have met so many people who feel being healthy, including aging well, is a matter of luck and circumstances. While some good fortune is involved, it is more a result of three things: a healthy consciousness that attracts health, being an overcomer of life’s obstacles and defeats that arrive for all of us, and lastly, disciplined action. You don’t have to be a Navy SEAL to be healthy and independent but it requires some of the SEAL attitude.
The old man in the pool was doing a lot right. He was keeping his weight down without being obsessed about it. He was exercising regularly as daily movement tends to keep us moving more easily. And, he was experiencing one more bonus over the challenge that we face here in Western PA – regular doses of Vitamin D3. In this gentleman’s case his exposure came from the best source, the sun. Getting outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine is the way to supercharge your immune system. Exercise or moving regularly, quality of diet, and taking Vitamin D or getting it from the sun are ways to keep your unique nervous system working more efficiently. Patients who chose chiropractic check-ups to their spine and nervous systems seem to have a naturally expanded health consciousness. Kudos to them and you.
“Hit by a Boomerang”
A recent accident had the medical doctor recommending I take a blood thinner. Never one to readily take any medicine including over-the-counter pills, I was quite resistant. When sharing with a friend the doctor’s recommendation to take this medication touted so often on TV commercials, he gave another perspective. It seems an acquaintance I met years ago also had a similar recommendation. His side-effects were an unfortunate brain bleed that left one side of his body severely incapacitated. Walking normally again is now a goal of Herculean proportions.
When discussing blood thinners with a patient, she shared how often she sees the commercials by lawyers wanting to sue the pharmaceutical company for misrepresenting the side-effects of this highly advertised drug.
Any drug, even antibiotics, have side-effects that can be severe. I’ve seen people develop constant bowel problems due to antibiotics. Years of running to the bathroom to keep from going in your pants is too high a price to pay to get rid of an infection that likely would have recovered with improved rest and diet anyway.
This opioid epidemic is so disheartening, as we lose one young adult after another. Most were innocent victims of a doctor prescribing pain pills for a problem that could have been helped with other, safer solutions they were never made aware of.
My kids had a foam boomerang when they were little. Throw them and they come back. If it hit you, it was painless. With all medicines, there is a boomerang side-effect. Sometimes, the kickback is minimal. Too often it is extremely harmful, sometimes even fatal.
“Doctor’s pills give you brand new ills.” Who knew Joni Mitchell was so prophetic as our opioid victim’s leave behind brokenhearted friends and family members. It starts with the awareness there is a better way.
THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED MY LIFE
You’ve heard the story 1,000 times. Boy meets girl. They fall in love. If the boy/young man is willing to get some discipline and get his act together, they just might have a future together. He does, love grows as does their family. Actually, this isn’t one of those stories.
I was vacationing at a condo in Miami when a middle-aged woman rolled up to the bay side pool in her wheelchair. She was instantly engaging, not surprising since she runs one of the most successful salons in the world. Her salon attracts movie stars and models wanting her skills to enhance their style. Still she was in a wheelchair.
How did such a lively woman end up in this wheelchair? She shared how she was recovering from major knee surgery. It turns out she suffered from a genetic condition that caused her to have unstable joints. Her body was actually too flexible and readily vulnerable to joint damage. Pain and recovering from surgery was a regular part of her life. “Ever been to a chiropractor?” I asked. She stated, “My joints can’t tolerate chiropractic. I get too sore.”
This woman had wealth, status, brains and yet no health. I had to find out why. It took me two years to find the answer. The answer was just the beginning of a learning journey to discover and understand genetic variants, epigenetics and methylation. This was the explanation I was seeking for over 30 years. It helped me understand so many of you with so much clarity. The exciting news is science, of which chiropractic is in the forefront, is providing solutions like never before. With Big Pharma seeking to develop and market more powerful pain killers, there are healthy solutions that can become game changers in your health and life. We are blessed to be living in an age of powerful solutions.
“There Are No Shortcuts to Good Health”
On a recent trip into the office during morning rush hour traffic, a middle-age woman caught my attention. It wasn’t her appearance that caught my eye, it was her driving skills. Peacefully I pulled out on Route 19 but like a magnet she was on my tail in no time. As I proceeded in the slow lane moving slightly above the speed limit, she was tailgating so recklessly I felt as if she was sitting in my back seat. She sped over to the passing lane repeating the same tailgating behavior. I watched her shift from lane to lane, tailgating someone the entire way up Route 19. We eventually ended up next to each other at a red light.
Unfortunately, this woman’s erratic driving pattern became a part of my morning routine. Twenty years ago, I might have angrily sulked over her driving habits. However, the lesson of learning to slow down (“stop and smell the roses”) has finally developed roots.
Tailgating, lane-changing speeders are similar to people who want health changes fast. “I want to be better now,” complained an elderly woman recently with months long low back and leg pain. “It’s still there,” she stated on her second visit. Yelling at the body to heal faster is like yelling at your garden to grow faster. I have learned through years of experience that the patient person heals twice as fast. Relax. Give your body a chance to heal and let nature get to work. Your chiropractic care trains your nervous system to relax so your super nature can do its amazing thing! So slow down and leave space for healing.
“Antibiotics: Friend or Foe?”
Colon cancer has been in the news lately. Our national morning news shows featured a story about colon cancer affecting younger adults more than ever. The doctor who was being interviewed gave two main reasons for this happening, the first being processed foods. It appears a crappy diet full of man made instead of nature made food irritates the colon. The second reason the expert referred to was our tendency to use antibiotics. He mentioned that antibiotics irritate “the biome of the gut”. The biome is the life-giving germs that live in our gut and help us digest what we eat.
A young woman shared her story of growing up with an uncle who was an MD. Whenever she was feeling sick, be it with a sore throat or an earache, her mom would call her brother who would then come over with antibiotics for her to take. “Ear infection, swollen tonsils, or lymph nodes? No problem. Just take an antibiotic.” The woman stated this process was repeated often throughout her childhood. A mother’s attempt to protect her daughter is a natural response when her child is sick. Still, we must let the nature within our body have a chance to learn to be healthy.
By the time this woman grew into adulthood, she said she became “sick and tired of always being sick and tired”. Realizing the antibiotics had weakened her immune system, she shut off all use of them. It took a while until she gradually regained a natural state of health.
Wanting a symptom-free child is natural. However, wanting a healthy child requires that our children sometimes need to experience sickness and discomfort. Our body is a healing machine. To be well sometimes requires patience and persistence.
Take Charge of Your Health
The middle-aged woman completed her intake forms at the doctor’s office and handed them to the nurse. It was time for the patient’s annual physical as required by her health insurer. “Wait,” said the intake nurse in an irritated tone as she reviewed the patient’s forms, “you didn’t list your pharmacy.”
The patient failed to understand why the nurse appeared frustrated, as if she was causing her trouble. “We need a pharmacy,” the nurse repeated. “Put down CVS since they cover drugs under my plan,” responded the patient. What followed next was quite humorous. The nurse requested the phone number for the pharmacy even though she was told the patient wasn’t taking any medication.
Those who choose not to take medications are what could be called outliers – as in they exist outside the norm. Approximately 10% of our population does not take medicine. Notice I used the word “choose” to describe taking medicine. Life can be messy, and every one of us could take a pill for this or that. Fortunately, in this information age we live in things are changing. People are now choosing to say no to prescription drugs and surgeries because they realize the side-effects of each can cause more and longer lasting side-effects than any benefit.
I’ve taken medication in the past to help me through a rough patch. Fortunately, it’s been rare and only for a brief period of time. Discontinuing taking medicine was always a negotiation between me and the MD who was open to an intelligent reason for stopping.
The point is to stay in charge of your own health and your health choices, including your right to decide whether or not to take medicine. Steer towards improving your lifestyle as a solution. Bruce Springsteen isn’t the only boss in town!