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Some of my colleagues want to be primary care and to be called doctor. Some of them have had the education to claim the title. I have not. I have a masters degree in Oriental Medicine, and I have been in practice for 12 years. I wish everybody had a great relationship with a primary care provider who was much more competent than myself. But. Some of you aren’t insured, some of you think you’re invincible, and some of you, for whatever reason, won’t go to the doctor. Yet all of you bitch about your health on Facebook.

Health is largely dependent on lifestyle/personal habits and behaviors. These can be separate blog posts, even an industry, but basically, eat quality and variety, exercise the right amount consistently, drink enough water, and get enough sleep*. Genetics and environment are also huge factors, which leaves the rest up to what we call medical care. My professors reminded us often that diet, exercise, and meditation are foundational, and acupuncture and herbs only do so much. Beyond traditional medicine, modern medicine can be stronger, but when other factors are working against it, medicine can only do so much.

Why should I see my primary care doctor?

Well, first off, sometimes you just know. There is a nasty flu that’s going around right now that has a tendency to become pneumonia. In general, though, medical care tends to be expensive. I know, so is insurance. Medical care tends to be more manageable when you are insured. And even more manageable when things are detected early. For example, better you notice your blood sugar is persistently high year after year and do something about it, rather than develop diabetes and all its complications.

The jury’s still out on if you need a physical every single year, but I think there is value in getting a snapshot every so often. I like checking my blood results, because it’s a progress report. Not a report card; it’s for my own improvement, rather than exterior judgment. Blood tests show lipids, inflammation, cell counts, sugars, hormone balance, liver function, important things to know about what’s going on inside you. Each of them could be their own subject. As I said in my last post, mine have showed I’m not eating as well as I could, and I do need to step it up with my exercising.

Why should I be insured?

In discussing the purchase or not of health insurance, I’ve had some people talk about the folly of preventive care and how it doesn’t really prevent much. Women, when you hit 40, you’ll find out mammograms aren’t cheap. Men, when you hit 50, same thing for colonoscopies. Still, by the numbers, it may be cheaper to go uninsured IF these tests find nothing. Well. Maybe you don’t believe in cancer, but statistically, if you live long enough, it’s coming for you. You can load the dice with clean living, but the snake eyes combination is still there.

It does not affect my bottom line terribly much whether you have insurance or not, since it usually won’t pay me. However, realistically, I can do a lot, and I can’t do a lot. Acupuncture might take the edge off your headaches, herbs might reduce the frequency of hot flashes, but if you have diabetes, chances are, you will need expensive medication. Do you still have your appendix and your gall bladder? Sometimes bad things happen. Insurance can be the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe. I know, it’s a real budget buster, but much more so is breaking your arm or needing surgery. So that’s my soapbox of the week: if at all possible, get insurance and take good advantage of it.

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*Eat right does not mean live on kale and air. This does not mean “everything tasty is bad for you and everything grody is good for you.” Though if you refuse to have an open mind, that leads to a really limited diet, which is not super healthy. Like all things, it’s relative. There was a teenager in the news a few years ago who died, who never ate anything but chicken nuggets. And to her, life was not worth living if she had to eat anything else. You make your choices.

I know a lot of people who don’t believe in drinking water. If your pee is clear and you are happy with your weight, skin, joints, bowel movements, and don’t get headaches or other pains, okay, maybe you are drinking enough water. If you’re coming to see me because oww, this hurts, and you never drink water, DRINK MORE WATER. I got an infuser bottle as a present a couple years ago, and a few slices of lemon or cucumber actually do make it more interesting. If you eat a lot of high moisture foods like soups, you can get away with less. If you sweat a lot, or in very low humidity times like when the heat has been running for a while in the winter, you probably need more. Your goal in ounces is the number of your weight in pounds, divided by 2. So someone about 120-130 pounds should try for a half gallon (64 oz).

Exercise regularly does not mean run to exhaustion once a month or so. Yoga has different benefits from exercise, and though it’s not easy, it’s not quite enough. This doesn’t mean weights only and no cardio, and on the flip side, do lift some weights, ladies, muscle is important and strong is cool. Gradually work up to it, and be regular. I have had a lifelong tendency to alternate being a gym rat for about 2 months and an utterly sedentary person for 2 years. I’m gradually working up my step count with a pedometer, and I’m pretty happy with myself if I can do a chinup and a pullup. One of these days I’ll be able to do a couple in a row.

Most people need 7-8 hours a night. Without proper sleep, the body goes into stress fighting mode, which means the metabolism slows down, inflammation goes up, and anything bad is going to get worse. Your body is made to deal with alternating demands and rest. Keep those balanced, and there are a lot of drugs you can avoid taking.

When I research different conditions, it is really surprising how often patients are advised to eat more fruits and vegetables, less processed food, get enough sleep and exercise. It seems very repetetive. There is a reason for it, though, because it’s actually good for everything, sometimes impressively so!

Happy new year, everybody! I’m wishing you a year of peace, health, and happiness. And will be blogging to promote you going to get it yourself!

What is your why? Are you over resolutions yet? Chances are, like resolving to make more money this year, if you don’t work at it, being happier, getting your house organized, getting to a more comfortable weight, etc. aren’t going to happen. What do you want/need to happen? How can you get there?

This year, my why is high cholesterol. No, I didn’t start working on it today, yes, I am renewing my commitment to healthier habits today. This is not my first go-round with high cholesterol. I had a high reading prepuberty, when in junior high we got to get lunch ala carte instead of standing in line for the tray. Once I stopped eating Doritos and milkshakes for lunch, it got a lot better. And since the late aughts, I was on a three year cycle. 1: Test high, diet like crazy 2: test well, diet less 3: test a little higher, stop dieting 1: test high, lather, rinse repeat. Except, after my 2016 test, my dad got diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. As you can imagine, I didn’t diet for shit that year, and 2017 gave me another very high test.

I really like dairy. I like cheese, ice cream, milkshakes, sour cream, Mexican crema, clotted cream, chocolate milk, really, all of it. I am eating yogurt every day, and the rest is a treat, maybe once a week or so. I’m really trying to get realistic identifying a snack versus a treat. I’m a good Texan, love a rare steak, but I am limiting my beef intake. I eat salmon once a week. I’m supplementing with fish oil and vitamin D (which I did test low). I’m a decade older than when this started, and my willpower for dieting isn’t what it used to be. So I knew I needed to exercise.

Which brings me to taking time for yourself. I know, not everyone has the privilege of time. I would guess at least 70% of my patients wouldn’t need to see me if they would slow the eff down. I know, we all have bills to pay. But in the same way financial planners say, “Pay yourself first!” I am saying, take care of yourself first. Put the mask on you before you put one on your kid, lest you fall unconscious, you know? So, four days a week, I am taking a mid day break. I work out, I eat lunch, I shower, if the timing works out and I have an extra hour, I do laundry, and then I come back to work, refreshed for the second half of the day. Tuesday through Thursday, this happens at lunch time. On Monday evenings, I stay late, so I take my break at tea time.

I get retested at the end of April, so stay tuned! What are you working on this year?

(Where I admit I can’t fix everything.)

When I first started my practice over a decade ago, devices weren’t that common, and people still used computers and mice. I saw an awful lot of carpal tunnel, and I was really good with it.

Times change. Most everybody now has a screen to carry around; people look down and scroll with their thumbs all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading on a screen. It’s easier to carry than a heavy book, and you don’t have the problem of the margins being too narrow when the book has too many pages. However, there were drafting tables and book stands when I was in college. My parents nagged me about my posture all the time when I was a kid.

Tech-neck is actually a thing. In our office, I think it is better served by chiropractic, though I have worked on it, too. Like with most things, prevention is valuable, so take breaks, hold/angle/prop-up your screens so you aren’t looking down all the time, and stretch your neck and back frequently.

Did your acupuncturist fix the pain at the base of your thumb? If so, I want to meet her! I myself am rocking the brace and/or a patch more often than not these days. Carpal tunnel is a LOT easier to work with. When you blow a joint, you have to stop using it so much. DO YOU KNOW HOW OFTEN WE USE OUR THUMBS? And we’re wasting the use of this precious joint on screens?!? I am a big believer of “make it worth it.” Blow your diet on something you’re not supposed to? Savor it. Make it the best cheeseburger you ever tasted in your life. Back felt great until a day of golf? I will tell you when you’re in my office again, I hope you had a great time! This one is stupid, and I can tell you because I have it. So get yourself a keyboard for your tablet, change up your typing fingers frequently instead of staying on your thumbs, and, this is crazy, but, maybe actually call someone once in a while.

Probably not, and while I sympathize, I’m not excited about scheduling an appointment with you. If it’s a C section you want to avoid, you may need help that I am unqualified to provide. And if it’s an induction, chances are very good that you’re going to go into labor anyway, forget to cancel, and then I could have actually helped someone in that hour I set aside for you. Tomorrow is too soon. If you want to try acupressure, Debra Betts’ website is a great resource. You can download a free booklet, order a DVD, or get an app with the points that might help.

 

I’ll see you if you’ve got close to a week, but the best time for acupuncture to influence/optimize labor is starting around week 36-37. Please bear in mind that the baby is going to do what it is going to do. We are not working on the baby. We are not turning the baby, we are not inducing the baby. We are working on Mom to provide the best environment, so, for example, if baby needs to turn, we are encouraging Mom’s body to make space for that to happen. When it’s approaching time for baby to come meet the world, we support Mom’s body in having the strength and circulation needed for that. Unfortunately, we can’t make baby do anything. (Get used to that, sorry!)

Ironically, you might think, I was talking snake oil with another practitioner, and we were working ourselves up over the myriad of things with which we’ve seen people harming themselves.

“Cups of undiluted acv! And they wonder why their stomachs hurt!”

“Who told this lady to take 1000 units of vitamin E when she was already on a blood thinner?!?”

“It was the detox tea that was making the liver enzymes go crazy!”

I’ve said many times that I’m sure not in this for the money. Marketing is very often about calling attention to imperfections, making the consumer feel bad about themselves and implying that this product is what will fix it. Tell you a secret, though, in general, most things are going to get better anyway eventually. Sometimes coming in to see me helps give a little boost, often enough that I’m still in business after eleven years.

I read a lot. I have been reading about wellness since before the internet was common. I continue to read about different conditions and how people can better take care of themselves. There isn’t a lot that seems new. Drink water. Eat more fruits and veg and less processed food. Get some exercise. Get some sleep. Breathe. Get some sun, but not too much. Actually, “get some ___, but not too much,” is pretty good general advice. There seems to be something new all the time, but it’s either a new product someone is trying to profit off of, or it’s the same old advice translated into clickbaitese. For example: putting lemons, herbs, cucumber, etc. in your water isn’t going to turn it into a magic fatburner/cancer fighter/anti ager, but it will make it taste more interesting, which will probably make you drink more of it, which is good for you in general.

Off the top of my head, plantar fasciitis and frozen shoulder are a couple of things that respond startlingly well to acupuncture. For a lot of stuff, though, what do you want? How can you get there? What have you been doing? Is it helping? What is it costing you in money or personal effort? There is a lot I don’t know, but sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see the connections you’re not. My license is in acupuncture. It’s not well explained, but it’s not magic or mystic, and needles might be the least important thing you get.

 


How’s your new year going? It took me a while to get back into my routines, such as they are, including cooking myself a decent lunch when I am home. A quinoa bowl is pretty easy. I like at least a green, but squash and/or fruit is nice, too. I had this last week with chunks of baked acorn squash, mixed nuts and raisins, and vinaigrette instead of miso, with chicken broth instead of water in the rice cooker. Most things I start by frying some onions and garlic, but today felt like bacon.

And sake. (Which is technically beer, rather than wine, despite its ABV and usual presentation. It is a grain brewed beverage that is not meant to be aged.) This dish isn’t perfectly virtuous, but it’s rather better than cheetos and a coke, or if it were literally the title. That’s life, y’all. Do good enough rather than be paralyzed by perfection, right?

So. The rice cooker gets a cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water. The wok gets a piece of bacon over medium heat. Start tearing a bunch of kale into it when the bacon is done. No stems. It will spatter a lot at first, but a bunch is a lot of kale. Mix it to wilt. Scooch it to the side so you can see the bottom. There’s a bunch of sort of burnt bacon funk stuck to the bottom of the pan, isn’t there. Pour a shot of sake on it and stir. Should lift right off. Turn off the heat, and mix in the quinoa when it’s done.

Taste. Ugh, bland. A big spoon of miso fixed that up for me. There is plenty of room in a wok to mix, and it’s less important than in soup to smooth the miso chunks out. Some hot sauce would be good, too. Now I have at least one meal. And while the huge, unwieldy wok is a pain to wash, the alcohol did most of the work. How often can you say that in a good way?

I am so three weeks ago, but I also haven’t updated since March. What is cupping and what does it do aside from give you hickeys in perfect circles? 

Basically, think of it like vacuum massage. I could talk about toxins or creating an energy racetrack in your body, but I really don’t like getting all woo woo. You know when you’re getting a massage or somebody is rubbing your shoulders and they hit a crunchy spot? I am 1) not a massage therapist and 2) way too lazy to work that out on my own power. I don’t use the glass and fire in the office so much; usually it’s a silicone suction cup that I squoosh onto your skin so it sticks well. Instead of me pressing, the vacuum is pulling, and the knot unties.

You have to pull the skin pretty hard to work at the muscle underneath, so it tends to leave a mark. For professional athletes, therapists are going to need more force than I usually use. To work out the average crunchy shoulders, if you aren’t someone who bruises when somebody slaps you on the back, you might be a bit purple for a few hours. If you are very pale or your muscles are very tight, the marks might fade out over a week. Most people feel enough relief they don’t care about the marks. But the world knows what it is now, so you don’t have to be embarrassed. Maybe warn me if you’re going to be a bridesmaid tomorrow so I make sure it doesn’t turn too dark.

If you are getting acupuncture and mention that your back or shoulders are tight, I almost always start by cupping anyway, but if you just wanted to try it, ask me about it at your next appointment.

I always tell people with allergies to wash bedding in hot, at least twice a month, and give yourself and any bed sharers (partners, kids, pets, whoever went outside! My cat doesn’t, so he gets a pass.) a good rinse. This way you’re not sleeping with as much pollen. However, not everyone can rock the short hair don’t care as well as I do, so here’s some help.

How to sleep on wet hair, from makeup.com
Some videos from bustle.com

Of course, you don’t want to encourage mold, so put a towel over your pillow or encase it in a membrane barrier.

the test, with a flippant title. Take an hour and try it. If you don’t have an hour in the next week, it is definitely time to examine that.

Here’s something similar in list form.

I was raised with neither religion nor custom, so I don’t know what either of those actually mean. Lent and lunar new year for me feel like time for contemplation, renewal, and spring. I don’t have the time or stamina to totally Konmari my life, but I have floor and desk surfaces that consistently are a lot tidier than they were a couple years ago. I haven’t gotten my comprehensive wellness program on line, but I’m trying to post a little more than a few times a year. I have run a brush over the cat every day this calendar year, and he is more genki a neko than he has been in months. Do a little at a time, but do it!

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