Tuesday, November 30, 2010

DAY 57 - A Real Gift This Holiday

This piece was first published in the Ventura County Star on December 25, 2001 with the title
"Make a pledge this holiday season to take care of yourself".

Give the gift that everyone wants to receive, but that we’ve never seen advertised. Give the gift that we all can afford to give, and that we can’t afford not to give. What is it? The gift of your own health and well being.

There are cultural voids and misconceptions that either interfere with giving this gift, and more often, simply make its giving inconceivable. One factor is that our culture doesn’t focus on health. We are fixated on disease, its treatment, and the covering of its symptoms with medications. Also, we have little or no life-experience showing us that daily health practices result in a better life. Additionally, most of us would not intuitively think that improving our own life, would be a gift to others.  Finally, try as we might, we still believe that a gift is a physical object; love is great, but where are the presents?

Ask your mother, your father, your spouse, your brother, your sister, your child; “Would it feel like a gift to you if I had less pain, felt more rested, was happier, stopped smoking, began exercising, lost weight, recovered from chronic illness?” If these people are feeling loving toward you, the answer will be YES. Turn it around. Is there anyone, family or not, that would be giving you a wonderful gift by becoming healthier?

When a child cries from the pain of an ear infection, struggles to breathe with the wheezing of asthma, or cries in fear of a painful medical treatment, we too feel pain. When that child, in a healthy state, smiles and giggles we feel her comfort and joy.

How painful to watch an adult, limping in pain, hunched with pain, breathing or swallowing with difficulty, depressed by chronic pain, hooked to tubes and monitors. How uplifting to watch a spry, happy elderly person hiking, dancing, or playing with a small child.

The gift of your health is a blessing to all; each and every day. It is a blessing for the future because it reduces the probability of you becoming disabled, suffering with chronic disease, or dying early. Your commitment to health also reduces the risk that your loved ones will have to suffer with you during a prolonged illness or premature death.  In a still larger sense, the more days of your life that you are healthy, the greater your ability to contribute to others. The more days ill, or in a bad mood generated by poor health, the more that others will have to contribute energy to accommodate for you and lift you up.

We each have a choice, not a guarantee, but an opportunity to give the gift of our health to our family, our friends, and to the world in which we live. There are few gifts that we will ever give that will be more important or more appreciated.

Each time you wish out loud or to yourself that others would begin to make changes to regain their health, remember that someone may be wishing the same of you.

It is critical to understand that the absence of obvious and active disease is not the same as optimal health. Our bodies gradually, often imperceptibly, lose function and reserves until they periodically, and then ultimately breakdown. Conditions and practices of daily living are the keys to health. How many of these are regular parts of your life: loving relationships, organically grown food, low sugar and starch consumption, aerobic and stretching exercise, plenty of rest and sleep, hope?

Give a gift that really matters.

Monday, November 29, 2010

DAY 56 - Can You Hear Me Now? Part 2

I have provided Part 1 here again, in brown - Part 2 follows - in black

This “Turning 60 Consciously”-thing continues to be a profound and pleasurable experience. Turns out for me, it’s easy to be conscious, and I always have “Something to Say”. The real work is the writing; the hours of shaping, weighing, listening, divining. I put in the effort because I am looking for a “Yes” to my question, “Can you hear me?”

The challenge I experience, trying to write in such a way that readers hear me, is compounded by my regular selection of subject matter and viewpoints that are outside our cultural vista. It is one thing to communicate about things we have in common, and entirely another, when the subject is foreign or the perspective initially appears false due to its conflict with views held.

Today, again, I will attempt to share a consideration that I believe is of significant importance to all people, but that is little known, little seen, little heard; not on our cultural radar.

The front page of the Ventura County Star was laid out on the arced bar in our kitchen as I shuffled in this morning from a long winter’s nap. The lead story, titled “Can You Hear Me Now?”, caught my attention. It made it to the front page because of the alarming content it reported; hearing-loss in young people in the US has risen by 30% between 1994 and 2006. With that increase, fully 1 in 5 US teens, in 2006, had at least slight hearing loss.

As I began reading the article, I consciously predicted that the article would blame loud noise as the cause for this dangerous loss of hearing in our youth. While there are other probable, or contributory culprits, our culture is fixated on loud noise being the cause of hearing-loss. Our blindness to other possibilities may be as dangerous as the hearing-loss itself.

The Star’s reporter is clearly convinced that loud noise is the cause. She begins the article with 3 short paragraphs that introduce us to Henry Ayala, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Blackstock School in Oxnard who says that he listens to his iPod, turned up full blast, for an average of three hours a day.

The author of the sited, hearing-loss study, Dr. Shargorodsky, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, acknowledges that “the study did not provide conclusive reasons for the increase” of hearing loss. Nonetheless, Shargorodsky shared with the reporter, and leads the reader, down the road of the “loud noise” theory by focusing on Walkman’s, iPods, and earbuds.

A clue about other-than-loud-noise-caused hearing-loss, understandably missed by most, is found later in the article when Dr. Kathryn Huff, the coordinator of the Ventura County Office of Education’s Hearing Conservation Department, is quoted as saying that some “students need to be retested because they had a cold, allergies, earwax”. Given that these conditions affect hearing, if they are chronic problems, do they have impact on hearing-loss?

Chronic infection, chronic allergy, and poor quality diet can, and do, contribute to hearing-loss. Chronic ear and sinus infections are not uncommon. Chronic allergy is endemic. The Standard American Diet (SAD) with its health compromising effects is, of course, the norm for kids. We need to look at, think about, and study these known contributory or causative factors.

I understand that we tend to be drawn to the obvious, in this case, loud noise, but that should not keep us from remembering that things are not always as they seem. Loud noise is not the only cause of hearing-loss; our children and our culture need us to understand the rest of the story.

Can you hear me now?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

DAY 55 Can You Hear Me Now? -Part 1

This “Turning 60 Consciously”-thing continues to be a profound and pleasurable experience. Turns out for me, it’s easy to be conscious, and I always have “Something to Say”. The real work is the writing; the hours of shaping, weighing, listening, divining. I put in the effort because I am looking for a “Yes” to my question, “Can you hear me?”

The challenge I experience, trying to write in such a way that readers hear me, is compounded by my regular selection of subject matter and viewpoints that are outside our cultural vista. It is one thing to communicate about things we have in common, and entirely another, when the subject is foreign or the perspective initially appears false due to its conflict with views held.

Today, again, I will attempt to share a consideration that I believe is of significant importance to all people, but that is little known, little seen, little heard; not on our cultural radar.

The front page of the Ventura County Star was laid out on the arced bar in our kitchen as I shuffled in this morning from a long winter’s nap. The lead story, titled “Can You Hear Me Now?”, caught my attention. It made it to the front page because of the alarming content it reported; hearing-loss in young people in the US has risen by 30% between 1994 and 2006. With that increase, fully 1 in 5 US teens, in 2006, had at least slight hearing loss.

- to be continued tomorrow on November 29, DAY 56 -

Saturday, November 27, 2010

DAY 54 - He Could Whip My Dad’s Ass

You might call it his favorite story, because he told it so many times, but it would be more accurate to say that it was a story that was burned into his heart. What was confusing was that he always told it with such pride.

As far as I remember, I was 7 or 8 years-old the first time I heard my Dad tell how his own father could have gotten up off his death bed and whipped my Dad’s ass. From the first telling, there was no doubt about the seriousness and importance of the story. Maybe he figured that it was obvious, or maybe he had never really stopped to clarify for himself the meanings, but he never let us know what it meant to him, nor what he hoped we would learn.

I know that on at least one occasion, my grampa Harvey, whom I never met, took my Dad out the wood shed and “taught him a lesson” with his fists, for being “smart” with his mother.

From other stories over the years, I learned from my Dad that Grampa Harvey had been strong and brave and handsome and smart and honorable and respected.

As a kid, I took the story of the projected, ass-whipping capacity to mean that my Dad knew that Grampa was a better man than he; in every way.

By the age of 14 I was 6 feet tall; tall as my Dad, but not quite as big. My brothers and I were staying with him for the summer as part of the dance of divorce, and as we had done on so many occasions over many years, we engaged in all manner of competitions; card games, board games, physical agility, and arm wrestling.

 I wasn’t just taller since the previous summer, I was stronger. My Dad and I arm wrestled for the last time in our lives. As I strained and struggled, giving it everything I had, the question flashed through my mind, “How will he take it if I win?” In another instant I was considering throwing the match, but unsure if I could I let him win without it being obvious.

I pushed ahead. His arm went down. Just as quickly, he was on his feet and putting me on angry notice that if I ever thought that I could take him on, we could go outside and he would set me straight. I have vague memory of saying something to show that I knew my place. Other than knowing that we didn’t go outside, I have no idea what happened next, or how things settled down.

When he wasn’t sober, my Dad drank a lot. It was no different when my wife, Joanne, and I, on one occasion while in college, visited and spent the night. By the early afternoon he had begun to drink. By dinner he was beginning to be a bit uncomfortable to be around. Later, as we sat talking in the living room, I with a full-length cast on my right leg, a few disagreements surfaced and began to flare. Next thing I knew, my father was threatening to throw me, cast and all, through the second-story, 8’x12’, plate-glass window which offered an expansive view of the San Francisco Bay. As I had at age 14, I pushed ahead. Unlike 14, I called him out; I invited him to see if he could put me through the window. I also remember what happened. He backed down.

My Dad ultimately and literally drank himself to death. I don’t believe that it was ever clear to him why his father’s ability to whip his ass was so important. And I don’t believe that it was ever clear to him why he was drinking himself to death.

....... This story would be incomplete if I didn’t tell you that my Dad was a good man. On his death bed, he could never have whipped my ass..... But then, that was never... what he really wanted.

Friday, November 26, 2010

DAY 53 – Easy Gratitude

The day after Thanksgiving is a good day to come clean about my easy gratitude.

A recent conversation that I participated in, spawned the statement, “Things are tough for everybody, but you can always find things to be grateful for!” I wanted to be agreeable ..., but I couldn’t respond in the affirmative.

While it is true that there are always things that one can be grateful for, things are not tough for everybody. I know, because not only are things not tough for me; I’ve got it good. There are many things I’m grateful for, but it’s an easy gratitude because I don’t have to look for a silver lining; the whole cloud is silver.

I like myself.

I have never had to worry about lacking for food, clothing or shelter.

I have family and friends with whom I share open and loving communication.

I am well. Not perfectly so, but each day I have the opportunity to improve it.

I find my work as a doctor of chiropractic, even after 28 years, so interesting and rewarding, that I have no desire to retire.

I feel a part of, and connected to all things.

The tough part of my life is the enormity of the suffering in the world, and the enormity of the risk that humanity faces. Each day brings the confusion and choices of  triaging my needs, my family’s needs, my friends’ needs, my community’s needs, my Country’s needs, humanity’s needs, the earth’s needs. There would probably be less confusion if I were a saint; but I’m not. I’m just a regular guy with a great life, and lots of easy gratitude.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

DAY 52 - When I Am Old

when I am old
I want to be
my child-self
without diapers

wanting to help

would life be joyful
without these ...
when I am old?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DAY 51 - My Left Knee

Not nearly as popular as the Academy Award winning 1989 film, My Left Foot, Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, the saga of my left knee is the story of a doctor’s struggle to get off his rear-end and take care of himself. It is also a story of redemption and a great detox fast.

I was 54 in November of 2005 when my left knee began to hurt. At times it ached. At times it felt fine. Most of the time it was mildly to moderately painful to walk. I often walked with a limp.

As any chiropractor would know, it was reasonable to assume that my low back was a significant, or THE cause, of my knee pain. Nerves that come from the low back, supply all the muscles of the hips, buttocks, and legs. If these nerves are compromised by associated causes and effects of a stiffening of the joints of the low back, the function of the muscles that support and control the knees can also be compromised, resulting in knee pain.

Given my history since childhood of low back pain that developed into serious degenerative disc disease, and given my poor track record for doing daily stretching exercises, my low back was most probably the cause of my knee pain.

That same November of 2005 I knew that I needed to clean up my act and start stretching 30-60 minutes per day to restore mobility to my low back, regain the function of my knee, and end the pain. And I meant to.

On April 28, 2006 I entered this honest self-appraisal in my health journal:
“And now ..... my own frailty. I have been doing a poor job of caring for myself over the last 3 years. Doing an hour's worth of yoga helped. But I have not done my yoga regularly. Today marks 2 days straight that I have done an hour of yoga each day. I have let my stretching go so long, that now it is both painful and exhausting. But, at least, what is happening makes sense. My current goal is to see if I can do an hour of yoga each day until the knee pain is completely gone for a week. Then I can stop until the pain comes back. :)  I would like to get back to being able to put my palms on the floor when standing, and head to the floor between my legs when seated.”

The years rolled by, and on December 12, 2008 I posted the following:
“The left knee pain continues in a non-debilitating way – but clearly limiting. And I still haven’t changed my life to fix it.”

Without making excuses, it is worth noting that I wasn’t watching soap operas or professional sports when I could have been stretching. I was leading a very full life that included many personal, family, community and global health enhancing activities. Daily I talked with myself about the choices that I was making, and the risks that I was taking. Sometimes I just had to put an election or an issue like nuclear weapons or global warming before my bodily ills. At other times I was just too exhausted to make the time and get myself on the floor for an hour of stretching.

Nonetheless, March 17, 2010 rolled around, and this is what I had to say:
“My left knee continues to be a problem – I limp nearly daily – I am very limited in my ability to walk any distance. My low back has been stiff for the last 5-6 years and I have done little to change it.”

Here comes the redemption part. I started writing this book, Turning 60 Consciously ... With Something to Say, on my 59th birthday on October 5, 2010. I’m spending 2-4 hours per day writing, and let me tell you, I am more conscious. Though I am not doing a great job, the consciousness seems to be having an affect and I am doing better with my stretching; 3-4 days a week of 30-60 minutes. And guess what, my knee is doing much better!!! The last 2 evenings I have gone on a 45 minute walk, and had very little pain, and just the slightest limp!!!

The question now, as it is for each of us, is can I stay on the wagon.

I promised you a gem of a detox fast:
On January 25, 2006,  3 months into my knee problem I began a 3-day UltraClear-only (a hypoallergenic meal replacement for improved metabolic detoxification) detox diet/fast (not a true fast, but a fast from regular food). I don’t recall if I had knee pain on day one of my UltraClear diet, but on days 2 and 3, I had no knee pain. On the morning of January 28 I began to eat regular food. For breakfast I had a bowl of homemade applesauce with cinnamon (no sweetening); a banana; a bowl of brown rice with avocado, salt, and flax oil. During the first half of the day I experienced a tiny amount of knee pain. For lunch I had a bowl of plain brown rice. When I stood up from eating my rice, I had mild-moderate pain in my left knee.

Food allergies and intolerances can cause pain anywhere in the body; commonly in the knees. Removal of suspected foods from the diet can often result in symptom lessening and functional improvement. Using UltraClear as a food/meal replacement can be an excellent way of continuing nutrient intake while avoiding possible allergic reactions.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

DAY 50 – Each Day

Hello Readers of my Book,

A number of weeks back I missed a day of posting. It may be anal of me, but my original plan for this book was to post daily for 365 days until my 60th birthday, so this is a catch-up post.

each day

each day the world depends on me ...
not because I am a decider,
but because I am a shaper,
expressing obviously, each day, as millions,
my vision of, my belief in, and my work for
peace on earth

KY – 11/23/10

DAY 49 - Got Knee Pain? Part III

Functional treatment of knee pain by healthcare practitioners, as contrasted with cover-up treatment, can be valuable, and in many cases, invaluable. A doctor of chiropractic (DC) can provide treatment through adjustment (manipulation) of the lower part of the spine, the knees, and/or the feet. Some DCs are trained to advise patients regarding non-musculoskeletal treatments such as dietary change, improvement of digestive function, and vitamin supplementation.  Other practitioners that treat knee pain include; doctors of oriental medicine, homeopathists, herbalists, naturopaths, bodyworkers, physical therapists, podiatrists, and osteopaths.

Knee pain is not uncommon in children. In my experience, adverse food reactions are the most common cause of childhood knee pain. These pains, and associated leg pains, are often misdiagnosed as "growing pains”. Beware that there is no evidence that growing causes pain. These pains are often in one leg, or favor one leg. This being the case, one would have to ask is the leg that is pain-free not growing? Again, growth does not cause pain.

Finally, I offer three pieces of advice:
1)         take the time to find out what’s causing your knee pain, and make the necessary changes to correct the imbalance,
2)         beware that chronic joint pain is an unquestionable sign of ongoing inflammation in the joint, that inflammation is destructive to tissues, and that unresolved, it is probable that your knee will deteriorate at an accelerated rate,
3)         recognize your knee pain as an opportunity to learn about your body, and appreciate that the functional changes that you make to heal your knee will enhance the health and vitality of your entire being and your entire life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

DAY 48 - Got Knee Pain? Part II

Most chronic knee pain is a result of a combination of factors. Common factors include, 1) food allergies and food sensitivities that result in inflammation in the joint, or in a reaction in which the body attacks the joint, 2) chronic illness in the digestive tract that may have no other symptoms than joint pain, 3) loss of mobility in the low back which may negatively impact gait, or may alter nerve conduction from the spinal nerves of the low back which control leg muscles that stabilize the knee, 4) insufficient stretching exercise to maintain a full range of motion in the lower extremities, which results in restricted motion, altered gait, and poor nutrient delivery to the joints, and 5) insufficient walking which results in weak supporting muscles and poor nutrient delivery to the joint.

Treatment for chronic knee pain can be divided into two types; cover-up and functional.

Cover-up treatments include medications to mask pain and block inflammation, and limitation of use. These treatments may be appropriate for short-term use, but are disastrous when used long-term. Masking body-protecting pain signals leaves an individual at risk of causing further damage to the involved body part. Anti-inflammatory drugs are known to damage joint structures, injure the lining of the intestinal tract, and cause 10,000 deaths a year in the US. Limiting knee use means walking less. While some limitation of use may be important, we all know, when you don’t use it, you lose it.

Functional treatment begins with assessment of factors that influence the knee specifically, and the body generally, and then focuses on creating changes that would enable the knee (and the body) to heal itself. (It is worth noting that the body is designed to repair itself.)

Functional self-care is most important. Examples are listed below. Keep in mind that chronic health problems are usually caused by multiple factors, and therefore often require several simultaneously combined therapies and lifestyle changes in order to relieve pain and restore function.

In my experience, elimination of foods that commonly cause arthritis provides the greatest relief from knee pain. Some of the foods that commonly cause joint pain are: dairy products, sugars, tomatoes, chiles, corn, meats, and shellfish.

Full-body stretching, such as yoga, with attention to the legs and low back, is remarkable for its ability to improve knee function and reduce pain. Stretching should be done for 30 or more minutes one to two times per day.

Baths with epsom salts are often very effective in the treatment of a wide variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including knee pain. I recommend using an entire half-gallon of salts in a warm to hot bath. These magnesium salts can be purchased at drug stores and large grocery stores. They have been used with amazing results for generations.

Essential fatty acids (fish oil and flax oil) taken as nutritional supplements can, in many cases, reduce inflammation and knee pain. Recall that fish oil has been used for generations in the treatment of arthritis. When supplementing with these fats, it is important to also take a fat-soluble antioxidant such as vitamin E to protect these oils from oxidizing (turning rancid) in the body.

Aerobic exercise has proven extremely effective at reducing joint pain. Effects appear to be mediated in part through improvements in circulation, detoxification, and elimination of wastes. In more general terms, balance and wellness in the body is improved by an optimization of turnover/cycling of bodily fluids and gases, and their physiologically active compounds. This occurs with regular exercise.

Significant emotional stress must always be considered as a potential cause of pain, and if present, must be dealt with.

-- coming up ... Parts III, IV and V

Sunday, November 21, 2010

DAY 47 – Got Knee Pain? - Part I

Are you taking fish oil supplements? Have you had your low back adjusted by your chiropractor? Are you doing yoga?

If it is important to you to save your knees, and maintain your ability to walk, read on and learn what most people don’t know about getting rid of knee pain. (Knee replacements will be covered later.)

Knee pain, as with most conditions, is divided into two classifications, acute and chronic, which are based on how long ago the pain began, how it began, and its intensity.  Chronic conditions are those that continue or recur over an extended period, often come on gradually, or may be the result of an incompletely healed injury. Acute conditions are those that begin or worsen suddenly, and are often caused by injury, infection, allergy, or abrupt change in a chronic degenerative process like arthritis. This article is primarily about chronic and acute non-injury induced knee pain.

First, let’s deal with the arthritis confusion, recognizing that knee pain invariably includes, or is, an arthritic condition. During my practice career (began 1983), I have interviewed and treated many patients suffering with chronic knee pain. I routinely ask patients what they believe to be the cause of their pain. Overwhelmingly, their response has been “arthritis.” At that point, I ask if the patient knows what arthritis is. Most know nothing. They erroneously believe that “it just happens”, that it is inevitable following injury to a joint, or that it is a result of aging. Even young people with chronic knee pain will answer that getting old causes arthritis. For some of these patients, my questions create a beginning for consideration of their condition relative to its causes and to the approaches that can be used to restore the health of their knees.

-to be continued tomorrow-

Saturday, November 20, 2010

DAY 46 – “The End of War” by Captain Paul K. Chappell

The powerful quote, “we become what we see” has been attributed to both the Chinese, and to William Blake. Regardless of its origin, it is ripe with insight that can free us to create peace on earth.

Humans have existed only in a world of war. To what degree have we become, have we come to believe in, the wars that we continually see?

Powerful quote, though it may be, “we become what we see” is a generalization only, and not true for all. It refers to the alchemy which transforms and secures most of us as carbon copies of the past. It does not address the less common “seeing” of imagination, without which, mankind’s primary shelter would still be a cave.

Iraq War veteran, Captain Paul K. Chappell “sees” with clarity the world in which we war; but is neither seduced nor blinded by that reality. His vision, his imagination of our future without war is what he has become. Our warring past and present, he knows, and understands, but sees beyond, to our potential for peace.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, has said, "Captain Paul K. Chappell has given us a crucial look at war and peace from the unique perspective of a soldier, and his new ideas show us why world peace is both necessary and possible in the 21st century. The End of War [Chappell’s new book] can help people everywhere understand why war must end, and how together we can end it."

Whether you believe we can, or believe we can’t, come join Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions (CPR) as Captain Chappell tells us why and how to end war.

WHAT: Annual CPR Season of Peace meeting: Author Paul Chappell discusses his ideas for shaping a peace movement, based on his books "Will War Ever End? A Soldier's Vision of Peace for the 21st Century" and "The End of War: How Waging Peace Can Save Humanity."

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 5 at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: Foster Library’s Topping Room, 651 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93001 USA

BACKGROUND: Paul Chappell is the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Peace Leadership Director. He is a 2002 graduate of West Point and an Iraq War veteran. Learn more at http://www.paulkchappell.com

Friday, November 19, 2010

DAY 45 – Sugar Makes for a Lousy Gift

I just wanted to dash this off to you cuz I know that we are already deep into the “Holiday Season”.

Don’t think it is lost on me that the word “holiday” comes from “holy”, and that “holy” means “sacred”; but it is more than apparent that in America, holidays are mostly about gifts. You didn’t ask for my advice, but you don’t have to read this either, and I am speaking to the universal “you” anyway; so here goes. Sugar is a lousy gift.

Let me count the ways:

First off, don’t you want to give something unique and possibly personalized? Sugar is not unique; it is ubiquitous! No matter the form or the flavor, it is still just sugar; and folks eat that every single day; hardly special.

Many people admit to being addicted to sugar. Many of those same people say that they really want to stay away from the stuff. Do you give booze to your alcoholic family and friends? Me neither.

Sugar makes people sick; that’s not a hypothesis, it’s a fact. Consider a few of the major diseases that disable and kill Americans and that are known to be fueled by excessive sugar: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity, and dementia. Obviously you aren’t wishing any of those on your loved-ones. But, are you facilitating them?

Obesity and overweight are talked about so much in our culture, that most of us are numb to the real meaning. The real meaning is that 2/3 of American adults (age 20-74) are either overweight or obese and are therefore seriously, or significantly unwell. Sugar plays a powerful role in this dangerous condition of our citizenry and of our Country. Disease and danger are not gifts.

It is both common, and understandable, that many people feel that to give sugar on a “special occasion” is perfectly reasonable. In fact, to question sugar gifts on “special occasions”, while historically would have been considered un-American, in today’s social climate, might now be considered terrorism. But back to the point; given that adults stop for sugared drinks each day on their way to work, and kids start their days with Pop Tarts, there is no way to imagine sugar being consumed just on “special occasions”. We are actually not far from a continuous IV drip (intravenous).

Your one little sugar gift does make a difference. Millions are giving one or more little sugar gifts.

It is not my intent to make your “holidays” more difficult than they may already be. I sincerely hope that the opportunity to consider the clear and present danger of sugar is a gift for you during this beautiful time of year.

PS – My wonderful wife suggests that I include the disclaimer/clarifier that I eat sugar. She’s right!   

Additionally, I am not judging those who give or eat sugar gifts. I am simply trying to address critical issues of our time in the hope of reducing suffering. It’s a tricky, if not scary job for me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

DAY 44 - Harry Potter Falls to 2nd Place in Fantasy Category

Even as the new sensation, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, debuts at midnight tonight, the renowned fantasy series can not compete with the long-standing American favorite, Prescription Drugs Are the Path to Health.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DAY 43 – Our Treating-not-Teaching System of Healthcare

I was one, before I learned that the word “doctor”, which comes from Latin, means teacher. Nonetheless, from the first days of my practice in March of 1983, it was clear to me that patients deserved to, and needed to understand their bodies, understand the treatments they were to receive, and understand the ways in which they could maintain their own health.

(image courtesy of truthout.org)

Unfortunately, doctors in healthcare today provide a lot of treating, and very little teaching. (Note: I use the term doctor here to mean all kinds of doctors; chiropractors, MDs, dentists, acupuncturists, etc...)

Given the poor health of our citizenry and the unaffordable nature of health care services in 2010, we would be wise, as a culture, to give thought to the kind of doctoring we currently receive, and to the kind that we desperately need.

My adaptation of a Chinese proverb might provide some insight into improving our national health, and into avoiding the financial cataclysm that may be brought about in our country by healthcare costs; “Give a man a treatment and he feels better for a day. Teach a man about his body and how to care for it, and he feels better for a lifetime.”

There are at least 4 impediments to healing our treating-not-teaching system of healthcare;
1)    Our insurance-based reimbursement system financially rewards treating-not-teaching,
2)    Most patients don’t understand the long-term risks and choose the quick-fix treatment over learning to take better care of themselves,
3)    Most doctors take the path of least resistance and of best reimbursement; selling treatments,
4)    Our culture as a whole doesn’t understand that it isn't a lack of treatment that is killing us; we are killing ourselves by how we live.

If tomorrow Americans had to pay out of pocket for every doctor’s visit, every shot, every laboratory test, every drug, you can bet that we would be demanding a teach-more-treat-less system. We’re not stupid. But have we missed the boat?

Whether our culture wises-up or not, we as individuals can get on board by;
1) Creating and beginning a simple wellness plan of walking, stretching and improved diet,
2) Asking our doctors what causes our illnesses and what we can do to improve our health,
3) If our doctors are not interested in the teach-more-treat-less system, begin telling everyone we meet that we are looking for a teach-more doctor.

Take charge of your life and your health!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DAY 42 - Pick me up at the airport?

On a call today from his home in New York, Zion asked, "Can you pick me up at the airport?" I let him know that I not only could, but that I would love to. He assured me that he would call me as soon as the plane had landed.

Nothing unusual here; except that Zion is 6 and his plane won't land 'til sometime in 2022.

Zion is my grandson; the eldest of my daughter, Jovi, and son-in-law Robert's two children. At age 2, while he and his parents visited us at our home in Ojai, CA, Zion got his hands dirty and tasted what must have already been in his bones; farming. (brief slide show of Zion on the farm at age 2 – click here)

I want to believe that we would have bonded without it, but I too love dirt, worms, watering, raking, veggies, and hunting gophers.

Today’s phone conversation began, as they often do these days, with Zion requesting a report, an update on the gopher situation in my/our (his and my) vegetable garden. I suggested that I could shoot a short video of the garden, the areas of gopher activity, and the traps that were set. Zion, quite comfortably stated that he thought it would be cooler to Skype (live video conferencing) right now so that he could see the garden in real-time.

I love being a grampa! I love Zion! And, yes, I opened up Skype and out I went, into the garden with my grandson.

Together, transcontinentally, we looked over the gopher situation. From there we moseyed around through the vegetables until we found a beautiful red bell pepper and a mature, tan butternut squash. Zion suggested that we harvest them and bring them in. We did.

Before we made it back to the house, we stopped for a bit to talk under a 100+ year-old oak tree. It was there that he touched my heart, telling me that when he turns 18 he wants to come live with me and his Noona (my wife Joanne), forever.

From there, he wanted to talk through the preparations. First was to make sure that we would pick him up at the airport. He would take all his money out of his bank account, ask his Daddy to drive him to the airport, try to get a seat near the front of the plane for quick deboarding, and, of course, since by that time he would have his own phone, he would call me as soon as the plane landed.

It doesn’t get much better!

In the meantime, I will keep myself busy working with others to make sure that Zion and all the little ones have a healthy and just planet on which to live.

Monday, November 15, 2010

DAY 41 – searching for beauty

searching for beauty …
with no real need to search
for as my heart opens
my eyes see

KY 2004

photo by Rocky Brown

Sunday, November 14, 2010

DAY 40 – Reflux: A Euphemism for Vomiting

This is not a joke about puking. This is serious; and you would be wise to read it.

Much of America is vomiting weakly, and regularly. Thanks to euphemisms like “reflux”, and to doctors and patients alike who rarely stop to think about what is going on in the body, Americans are simply taking prescription drugs like Prilosec and Prevacid, or over-the-counter antacids to suppress gastric symptoms.

Merriam-Webster defines “reflux” as, “a flowing back”. One need not be a gastroenterologist to know that what is flowing backward, in this case upward, are the contents of the stomach. When the contents of the stomach are forcefully ejected into the esophagus and out through the mouth, we call that vomiting. When ejection is weak, only able to move a small amount of the stomach contents into the esophagus, or possibly the throat, we call it “reflux”.

To review simple gastrointestinal physiology, ingested foods that are perceived by the body as non-harmful, are accepted and moved down through the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus. One need not be a doctor to know that when the body perceives ingested foods as a threat, the contents of the stomach are moved in reverse, up, and out.

You have probably not thought about it, but children, relatively speaking, vomit much more frequently than adults. The exception would be adults that drink excessive amounts, or unfortunate combinations of alcohols. We might say that children grow out of it, but in reality, the gastrointestinal tract becomes weary from multitudes of perceived threats, and is less able, in adulthood, to mount a forceful response; to vomit.

WebMD, a web-based service that claims to provide “valuable health information, tools for managing your health, and support to those who seek information”(http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/acid-reflux-symptoms) tells us the following about acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):
-More than 60 million Americans [1/5 of all Americans] experience acid reflux at least once a month.
-Heartburn, regurgitation, and dyspepsia are a few of the most common acid reflux symptoms.
-Making a few lifestyle changes and using over-the-counter antacids usually are all you need to control acid reflux symptoms.
-GERD is severe or chronic acid reflux that can lead to complications, such as cancer.

When your gut tells you that it would like to empty itself, it is not wise to simply take a drug, prescription or over-the-counter, to stop the symptoms and block your natural defenses. Common sense dictates that you pause to understand why your digestive tract is running in reverse.

Finally, and don’t miss this one, the most common cause of “reflux” is the ongoing consumption of foods to which one is allergic or intolerant. And dairy products are one of the most common offending foods.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

DAY 39 - Wanted: Mojo Outside of Washington

Let me just lay it out the way it happened:

My wife said, “I think you will find this opinion piece interesting.”

So, I picked up this morning’s Ventura County Star and began to read Eugene Robinson’s piece entitled Wanted: Mojo all around in Washington. In the first paragraph Robinson tells us that voters made a powerful statement about leadership in last week’s election, and states that the President, my President, didn’t pay any attention to the voice of the electorate.

Mr. Robinson may be looking for “mojo” in Washington, but let me tell you, he’s got some "mojo" right here in Ojai, California to deal with. First of all, he is wrong, the President is always paying attention, and secondly, I don’t appreciate it when folks talk that way about our President.

After the first paragraph, I took a moment to acknowledge to myself that, yeah, he got my goat; brought out my feminine side. I’m talkin’ about that feminine side of a grizzly bear when someone or something is too close to her cubs.

Then I read the rest of the column.

Mr. Robinson continues by second guessing Obama on a variety of issues, and then sets him straight with the universal truth that Presidents “aren’t allowed to be discouraged”. In his own words, he informs the President that the President’s job is to BS the public about a variety of important issues; tell the public that everything is rosy, even when it is clearly not the case.

Must be great to have a job writing, complaining and criticizing. Our Country can’t seem to get enough of that.

But, I’m more interested in the “mojo” of the citizens of our great Country. Our President told us long before his election that he could not make things right in our Country by himself. He clearly and repeatedly told us that he needed our help; that he needed us to stand up and begin working together with him. My question to us, and to Mr. Robinson is, are we deaf? Or what is it that we don’t understand about “working together”?

Blaming the President, the governor, the county supervisor, the mayor, our parents for everything has long been standard operating procedure in our Country. I recommend that we not continue this foolishness.

President Obama’s got “mojo”; the question is, do “we the people”?