Ego, Medicine and RSD

No, this isn’t a blog bashing your doctor’s sh*tty bedside manner. It’s also not about the doctor who makes you feel like you don’t understand your own condition (even though you have a feeling you “get it” maybe more than she does). I could blog about those things. I could blog about those ad nauseam. I will spare you my past frustration. The ego I am thinking of is ours: the patient’s.

I think in RSD we can hold ourselves back. And I think ego is the culprit.

Often we won’t entertain the idea that something we are doing or not doing just might impact our health. We believe in a pill but not healthy food. We believe in ketamine but not meditation. When we’ve worked out and lost weight, then we take credit. That we do.   But in terms of a medical condition like RSD, it seems that we believe someone else has to help us and that someone has to have many degrees and awards framed on the wall. And that we need drugs and shots – lots of drugs and shots. I say this because this is where I was coming from. It feels severe so the treatment needs to be powerful.

But what if treatment doesn’t need to be powerful drugs or shots?

Do our egos stop us from doing things that have the potential to change our health simply because the treatment doesn’t seem impressively dire enough? Is a pain experience somehow less intense if you treat it with qi gong instead of nerve blocks?

If the cure for Ebola turned out to be somewhat scientifically simple, would that imply the disease was never fatal to begin with?  No, that’s insane. It seems like in the world of pain and RSD we might be thinking that the treatment method is somehow indicative of the severity of ones experience. And that we are less accepting of alternative methods perhaps because we fear a downgrade of the perception of what we are going through.

Meditation to rebuild gray matter in 8 weeks – a Harvard study

This is amazing and, as someone who practices meditation, it makes complete sense to me. We have more control over our physical health than we know.

http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/

The study was led by a Harvard-affiliated team of researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the team’s MRI scans documented for the very first time in medical history how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing…the participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. McGreevey adds: “Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.”

mindfulness to improve RA (and other chronic) symptoms

http://news.yahoo.com/mindfulness-program-may-improve-rheumatoid-arthritis-symptoms-182402223.html

“A two-month program combining gentle yoga with meditation techniques, known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, seemed to ease tenderness, pain and stiffness among patients with rheumatoid arthritis in a new study. I think these findings are pretty consistent with other studies of mindfulness and chronic conditions,” said Mary Jo Kreitzer, who was not involved in the research… Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a program developed decades ago at the University of Massachusetts to help seriously ill patients cope with pain, such as from advanced cancer or AIDS. But in recent years that program has been adapted and offered more widely to people seeking relief from pain and stress of many kinds. Mindfulness training involves the cultivation of nonjudgemental attention to unwanted thoughts, feelings and bodily experiences via meditation and may help ameliorate both psychological and physical symptoms of chronic disease,” write the study authors in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.”

A Prescription to be Lazy!

I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I really enjoyed the blog below from mindbodygreen.com. I’ve changed my attitude about weekends in that sometimes I take the bulk of a Saturday or Sunday to just practice qi gong and read. I used to feel the need to work at a list of things to do and rest included tv. I feel far more rested and symptoms cease when I shut everything down and just relax.

“Stress underlies most of our modern day maladies. A “doing, doing, doing” way of life contributes to dis-ease over time because the nervous system never gets a chance take a load off. The fight-or-flight affect of stress leaves the body thinking and feeling as if a lion is chasing it 24 hours a day.”

The blog suggests doing the following:
1. Go on a social media and electronics fast. I have to admit that i read this at first as “get on social media and fast” and I thought “what an interesting take. I would have thought the opposite.” Maybe I need to pay attention to #2. One thing at a time!
2. Monotask.
3. Explore meditation.
4. Attend a restorative yoga class.
5. Schedule time into your schedule for simply being.

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11417/want-better-health-try-doing-less.html

Lifestyle Changes Bring Back Memory & Cognitive Function – A UCLA Study

I LOVE reading articles such as this one. Amazing…let’s hope that people are willing to try. So many people refuse to admit they play a role in their own health and chalk everything up to “it runs in the family.” I used to be one of those people.

“Ten memory-loss patients, some with brain-scan-confirmed patterns of Alzheimer’s, participated in a small UCLA trial called MEND (Metabolic Enhancement for NeuroDegeneration).
In the UCLA protocol, patients made dramatic lifestyle changes. They avoided simple carbs, gluten and processed foods. They increased their fish intake, took yoga and meditated. They were instructed to take melatonin, get adequate sleep, incorporate vitamin B-12, vitamin D-3 and fish oil.
Within six months, nine patients saw a noticeable improvement in memory. One patient, who was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s, did not show improvement. UCLA researchers say the findings suggest at least early on, changing a person’s metabolic processes can bring back memory and cognitive function.
Six of the patients of the patients in the study who had to discontinue working were all able to return to their jobs. Study authors say some patients were followed up to two and a half years and the memory improvements remained.

http://abc7news.com/health/non-drug-treatment-may-reverse-alzheimers/336963/

Mindfulness

http://theweek.com/article/index/259351/the-mainstreaming-of-mindfulness-meditation

“Scientific research has shown that mindfulness appears to make people both happier and healthier. Regular meditation can lower a person’s blood pressure and their levels of cortisol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland and closely associated with anxiety. Meditation can also increase the body’s immune response, improve a person’s emotional stability and sleep quality, and even enhance creativity… ”   “MRI scans have shown that mindfulness can alter meditators’ brain waves — and even cause lasting changes to the physical structure of their brainsMeditation reduces electrical activity and blood flow in the amygdala, a brain structure involved in strong, primal emotions such as fear and anxiety, while boosting activity regions responsible for planning, decision-making, and empathy.”

I love to read this!