Sitnews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Compliments to Your Health #7

Mustering What it Takes to Be Proactive in Our Own Health
by Joann Flora,
Acupressure, Nutrition Counseling, Qigong


December 15, 2002
Sunday - 11:30 pm

I am always fascinated when my clients avoid taking control of their health, saying something to the effect of "it's easier to take a pill". Active participation is, I believe, one of the major factors facing the health of Americans today. It would not surprise me if personal involvement, or lack thereof, turned out to be the single most significant factor in the success, or failure, of any health care program. For too many generations we have been conditioned to go to someone else to get fixed when we break down. Are we too lazy or fearful to be proactive with diet, exercise, supplementation, rest, and relaxation? Or, do we lack the belief that we can become empowered to take care of ourselves, that we can make a difference in our well being? By becoming bystanders to our diseases and disorders, we empower them to control us.

Connell Lake
by Dan Hart, Ketchikan, AK

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) maintains that we have everything we need for optimum health. TCM defines the vital life force energy, or qi, as being that "thing" we all have. If our qi is in balance, we have health; if qi is out of balance, we have dis-ease and ultimately disease as we understand it in the west. Imbalance may also produce accidents, as we are more prone to them when our energetic equilibrium is off. But most of us have no medical training, so how can we possibly take charge of our health? How can we know how to stay 'in balance'? Our qi is kept in balance by food we eat (gu qi), the air we breathe (da qi), our reserve energy (jing qi), and how we live our daily life. Do we harbor anger and resentment? Have we stuffed unprocessed grief into our bodies? Are we living with fear? What, in other words, are we actually doing to assure or sabotage our health and well being?

First and foremost, we must not sabotage ourselves. Holding onto negative emotions, practicing habits that we know are unhealthy, consuming foods we know will aggravate a health concern, and sedentary living are all behaviors that will come back to get us. Excesses of all kinds are exactly what they appear to be: too much. Whether it be food, alcohol, sleep, supplements, exercise, or medications (even prescribed), too much is too much. If a low calorie diet is a good idea, does that mean we reduce it to 500 calories a day to make it better? Of course not. If we know we need more exercise, should we launch into a highly aerobic program seven days a week? Certainly not. Too much of a good thing can be as unhealthy as too much of a bad thing. A varied, nutritious diet of whole foods, a broad spectrum liquid multivitamin and mineral, plenty of clean water, reasonable exercise and adequate rest go along way to maintaining balance.

Second, we must learn that when we do require professional health care, we are the consumer. We are the customer. It is important to remember this, for while we seek out their aid, knowledge and advice, we are not subject to the medical profession. We hire gardeners, mechanics, and health care providers in much the same way. We have a need for which they can provide a service. We make decisions based on the information they provide. If the service is of poor quality, we find another provider. If they do not treat us with respect, we fire them. As the customer, we must ask questions and receive information so that we can make the best decisions for ourselves. If you hired a house painter who said, "you need to paint the outside black and the inside brown," would you take this at face value and pay them to paint your home? I hope not. Likewise, when receiving prescriptions, recommendations for surgery, or other health information that does not seem right for you, get active: ask questions, do research, get another opinion. Pharmacists are a great resource for the side effects and interactions of medications. People who have been through a surgical procedure can share real first hand knowledge of the pros and cons. Is there another methodology that is not as invasive? Look to see what the complimentary health services have to offer. Can you make a difference by changes in diet or nutrition. Will energy work (acupressure, qigong, acupuncture) help rebalance your qi? Would exercise (movement modalities including walking, yoga) reduce your pain? How would your condition respond to manipulations such as massage, or physical therapy? And let's not forget the intangible care we can receive through meditation, counseling, or spiritual means.

The point to all this is that those who are most successful in managing their disease, rather than having the disease managing them, are those who are most proactive in their own care. Case in point: I was asked by a woman in her early 20's if I could help her for pain in her ribs. Test showed that nothing was broken or dislocated; pain medication was offered with the advice that she would have to get used to the pain. I suggested a course of acupressure, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for the health of the connective tissue in her ribs, and rest from skate boarding. She began to feel better very quickly and is back to skate board riding. Her recovery was complete in less than six months following three treatments, rest, and supplementation. Case in point: In 1997 a woman in her 50's called from her job. She was in so much pain from a herniated disc and referred sciatic pain descending her left leg that she couldn't function at her job; could I see her right away? She was afraid of back surgery. She received an acupressure session that lasted the better part of two hours. We worked slowly and systematically from the neck down to open the energy of the complete spine and relax all of the back musculature. At the end of the session I gave her some manual traction on her low back and we both heard an audible pop. I asked her what happened. She shifted on the table for a moment, testing her condition, and announced that her disc was back in place and she had no more pain. I recommended a follow up visit to her physician and didn't see her again till 2001. Case in point: A client with Adult Onset Diabetes was struggling with his weight vs increasing insulin requirements. He reported that he often felt like a toxic dump with all the meds he was taking. Pacific Northwest Natives have long used a tincture made from the devils club rhizome in treating diabetes. I suggested he might want to try supplementing with this tincture at mealtime. His requirement for insulin began to decline to the point that he was able to manage his blood sugar through diet and the herb, no longer requiring insulin injections.

These few examples illustrate what can happen when we are receptive to options that are available to us. These are the types of changes we can make if we choose to be active in our own care and not dependent on others. These are not miracles or promises of living happily ever after, but rather, improvements of a non-invasive nature. They are not intended as recommendations to forego adequate, medical care. Rather, by being an active participant and being open to all that is available to us, we allow ourselves to reap the greatest and most advantageous benefits. Sometimes the benefit can be long term, and sometimes it might buy us temporary relief with improved quality of living. In any case, we can remove ourselves as victim of a disease or injury by being mustering what it takes to be proactive in our own health care.



E-Mail Joann Flora
 E-mail Joann Flora


©Compliments To Your Health
Joann Flora 2002


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