hope and healing

I love this. The entire CNN article is linked below.   Hope might just have healing effects on motor function, circulation and pain.

“How hope can help you heal”

“Few things are more ethereal than hope. It isn’t tangible, easily measurable or available in pill form. That’s likely why the idea that hope may wield a significant influence on healing — and even survival — may be tough to take for our bean-counter brains, hardwired by evolution to seek certainty at any cost…The positive physiological effects of hope are well-documented, most eloquently in Jerome Groopman’s “The Anatomy of Hope,” where he writes: “Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry. “Belief and expectation — the key elements of hope — can block pain by releasing the brain’s endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. In some cases, hope can also have important effects on fundamental physiological processes like respiration, circulation and motor function.”


Table for One

Yesterday I had a stressful work day and, as soon as I could escape it, I grabbed my Ipod and went out for one of my walk-runs. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and the sun was still strong. I listened to Songs of Freedom and had a really big smile on my face thinking about my loved ones. It was an amazing hour of peace after a day of work chaos. As I was crossing the street a block from my home, I realized a woman was yelling at me from across the street. I turned my music down to hear her scream at me “your face is so ugly, I bet you never get sick!!” She seemed to feel very adamant about this.
All I could think was “cool, i don’t want to get sick.” And I laughed at how ones view of health changes after losing it for a while. One thing is for sure, people seem extra stressed out right now. That seems perfectly natural given all things in the news but I want no part of it. Then I turned my music back up, went back home for a shower and took myself out to a nice early dinner with a book. I’ve started doing that more often. My old pain psychologist used to encourage me to take myself out and just enjoy food and sounds, that it would trigger calm in me and the pain would lessen.
I was not in pain yesterday but certainly craved calm. Chardonnay, a beet salad with goat cheese, a beautiful patio and a book. Total bliss. I used to only do this when I was already in so much pain that it only helped a little. But now I do it because I love it. It’s no longer weird for me. And I think it helps me get and sustain calm. RSD people seem to have the out of whack sympathetic response and so things that trigger the parasympathetic will calm us. Dining alone seems to do it. Turns out it might be really good for digestion and absorption of nutrients to boot.

“Going beyond just chewing food well, ridding of all distractions is another fantastic way to improve digestion. Why? Because our autonomic nervous system, which controls activities of our organs, glands, and involuntary muscles, operates in two states:
1) Parasympathetic: Activates tranquil functions, like stimulating the secretion of saliva or digestive enzymes in the stomach.
2) Sympathetic: Stimulates activites that prepare the body for action, like increasing the heart rate, increasing the release of sugar from the liver into the blood, and other fight-or-flight responses.
When we are distracted while eating (even if we don’t think we are), our bodies switch to the sympathetic state, diverting attention from the release of important digestive enzymes and general digestive functions. This prepares the body for action (like running away from a lion). The result? Digestion and absorption of nutrients are impaired. And that’s pretty much the worst combination…. Not being able to properly digest food, which affects the assimilation of nutrients that our body actually uses. Not good.”


Treating Chronic Pain

Great article on mind/body disorders and Dr. Sarno.


“Psychosomatic does NOT mean that “it’s all in your head” or that you are making it up. That is a common misconception among the medical community and lay people alike. What psychosomatic does mean is a mind-body connection, specifically that there are disorders that appear to be purely physical (i.e. back pain), but which have their origin in unconscious emotions. In other words, how we feel emotionally affects how we feel physically. Unfortunately, doctors aren’t trained to recognize this in medical school as true, and are therefore not trained in how to treat it.”

“Here are some of the conditions that are often mistakenly treated with drugs and surgery only: back pain, neck pain, heartburn, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and stomach pains, eczema, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, TMJ, repetitive stress injury, shoulder pain, chest pain, pelvic pain, and depression.”

I find this to be a good reason to stay off the message boards and such with all the people talking about how bad they have it and describing their pain. It’s too much emotionally and I definitely feel it physically.

A great read

A friend with RSD recommended his books to me a few years ago and I didn’t “get it.” I associated Dr. Sarno with back pain which I now rarely have. I knew about him back in the early nineties when I was a Howard Stern junkie. But I always associated him with back pain. Stern actually credits him with healing his chronic back pain and OCD in just a few weeks. Another friend of mine mentioned his books recently and I have read one and I have two others open now. I think this one specifically might be great for people with RSD. A link to the book as well as a link to a 12 minute Stern interview with Dr. Sarno are both below.



RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystophy) or CRPS (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome) is believed to be an autonomic dysfunction and failure in the healing process that causes inflammation, pain, swelling and a host of issues that are difficult to treat and often take years to diagnose.

In most cases RSD, the genesis of the syndrome is a noxious event (Type 1).  This event can be something as simple as a broken bone but the body for one reason or another goes into overdrive and the body sends the blood to the area even after the injury  has healed.  This overreaction then becomes the overriding problem. The bone heals but then the patient is left with a host of problems infinitely more difficult and painful than the initial injury.

But, in some cases (like mine), RSD originates with a definitive nerve injury (Type 2).  While the two types have similar symptoms, this is not the case of the body not healing itself.  Type 2 is a case where the nervous system has been affected by nervy injury.  The nervous system is permanently damaged so that it chronically overreacts to stimuli.  This overreaction causes intense pain, swelling, temperature changes, skin color changes, inflammation and many other symptoms that prevent a person from leading a normal and active life.

This pain process becomes cyclical and takes on a life of its own causing other issues for the patient, including other physical ailments and, often, severe distress due to the realization that they aren’t healing and probably will never get better.  Those of us who have it know how difficult it is  for doctors to treat us.

This annoyed me.  I was taking massive amounts of narcotics with little effect. Thanks to family support and especially the introduction of Traditional Chinese Medicine, I found ways to live without pain medications.  I want to share that information and hope to learn from you as well.