Meditation for Anxiety

I teach a dance class with my friend Nicole on Fridays at 7:45a.m. at Be One Yoga Studio.  We were talking at class last week and we both have kids who experience Vasovagal Syncope.  If they go to get a shot or see blood they faint, pass out, vagal down–whatever you want to call it.  It’s embarrassing, inconvenient, and scary to them.

It is not uncommon.  A couple of years ago I was teaching a classroom full of College of Education students about tourniquets–because these days as a teacher it is a distinct possibility that they will be faced with having to stop a child from bleeding out as a result of a gunshot wound–and one of the young women in the class started to faint and had to be helped to the floor.  Just the thought of tourniquets, without even images of blood or graphic pictures, was enough to trigger vasovagal syncope for her.

My son, Sean, was given atropine when they put an IV in him prior to his surgery for wisdom teeth because his heart rate dropped so low.  He had to stay an extra hour after the surgery because his heart rate was staying in the 30s and 40s.

My son, Zach, literally turned green when he was getting stitches once.  He starts to faint and has to sit down when there are needles around.

I have seen people die after a vasovagal response.  But that is because they had heart disease and were very sick.  Most of the time though, for healthy people, the syncope is not life threatening, just a problem to be managed.

What happens is that there is an adrenaline surge, for our kids it is a result of a fear (fear of needles, blood, etc.), followed by a vagus nerve response that dilates the veins, dropping the heart rate.

Nicole and I were talking about things the kids could do to try to prevent the reaction since they will have to see needles, give blood, get immunizations, and receive medical treatment for the rest of their lives.

These are the things that have worked for us:

  • Stay horizontal. One of the factors of hypotension is that the body has to work against gravity to get the blood back to the heart.  Keeping the body horizontal can reduce that pull.  Also, it can prevent head injuries during the fainting episode.
  • Benzodiazepines.  Okay, so most people probably don’t have a bunch of bennies lying around, but if you have a prescription for these for anxiety, this is a good time to take it–before you go.  Now, obviously, this can not be mistaken as medical advice.  Ask your doctor if you need medication to help deal with this problem.  Talk to your doctor if you have this problem at all.  Medication can reduce the stress factor of the adrenergic response.
  • Systematic desensitization therapy.  This can be led by a therapist, but you can also willingly expose yourself to the thing you are afraid of incrementally increasing exposure until the anxiety producing event is no longer problematic.

Things that I think might work for us:

  • Meditation.  I have used meditation for other similar physiological responses to anxiety producing situations with great results, especially when paired with the next suggestion.  Now, my kids have not yet tried this for their fear of needles, so I’m just pulling it in as a possibility.
  • Self-hypnosis.  Again, I have used this for smoking cessation and public speaking, and it seems reasonable to assume that you could program your brain not to respond to stimuli in the same way to prevent the physiological problem.
  • Applied Tension Technique.  This as a way to organically and systematically increase your blood pressure so that when it drops it doesn’t drop so low.
  • Relaxation and distraction techniques are techniques I use every day with patients who don’t have needle phobias.  I often ask patients to wiggle their toes, or talk to them about their lives to distract them from the horrible things I’m doing to them–whether I’m placing an IV, giving them a shot, or dressing their wounds.

Nicole had this list of resources that she likes:

Years ago my friends Gina and Zara introduced me to Silva Method meditation.  I love it because it gives people a method.  Often my clients want to meditate but they feel stupid or that they are not doing it ‘right.’  The Silva Method helps provide a structure that can get you comfortable with the process.

And it seems, in my awareness, that a lot of people are drawn to Transcendental Meditation.  I have not experienced the training for this yet, but it is intriguing.

One that I recommend to patients at the hospital often is HeadSpace because it is free and it starts with guided meditation and gradually increases the time and decreases the verbal.

Obviously we need to get our kids to try all the options because we haven’t had the opportunity to try much (see the above list of ‘things that have worked’).  Fortunately there are tons of resources on the interwebs, and hopefully they will be open to being proactive with the process.

If you want to take part in my ‘post dance class talks with Nicole’ you’ll just have to come dance with us at Be One Yoga on Friday mornings!

Email Wendy at imspa@hotmail.com to request a massage appointment.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, Master Massage Therapist, massage therapy educator, and gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Share

Why do you run?

I’m a runner.  I ran in high school for a short period of time when I was going to Monterey High School.  I went to 4 different high schools growing up so it was hard to get into anything for long enough to figure it all out.  I remember wearing Reeboks, having shin splints, and having to soak my shins in an ice bath.  The rest of the team would be running to Lover’s Point for a 7 mile run.  I was trying to learn how to deal with the pain.  There was not a coach that I connected with, no friends to give me pointers–perhaps about the right kind of shoes, and really no mentor.  So at that point I decided that running was not fun, it was painful, and I just didn’t get it.

It’s a practice

Flash forward to me at 29.  I had a 2 year old kid.  I was in school for my first degree at the University of Arkansas.  I was standing at the top of The Hill–UofA is also known as The Hill because it is on a huge hill–contemplating whether to wait for the bus or run the 2 miles down the hill to my house.  I ran, backpack and all.  That was the first time I ever experienced the exhileration that comes only from running.

Endorphins are amazing.  I can swim, bike, lift weights–no other sport gives me the same ‘high’ that running does.

Blackberry Blossoms on the Trail

I run for my mental health.  In the winter time I get SAD if I don’t keep my cardio up.  I run when I’m just normally sad.  I have sobbed and wailed through many a run, grieving the many losses that come with this hard life we live.  It has helped me to process those losses.  I run when I’m angry or agitated with a situation (this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen), or when I’m just feeling pent up, or like I have an excess of energy and I need to blow off steam.  I run to increase my happiness and sense of accomplishment.  Sometimes I feel like, ‘if I can run 7 miles, man, I can handle anything today.’

Complexities of nature

I run for my physical health.  My heart is happy I’m running, my lungs-especially in the wintertime-feel so expansive after a run, my endurance gets better the more I run.  Physically, I’m in better shape because I run.

Sometimes I run for the community of it.  I keep thinking I need to get out and ‘find my tribe.’  Part of me is a little intimidated about running with people.  I’m not super competitive with my running.  I stop and take pictures, catch my breath and walk if I want.  I’m afraid I might be a bad running companion for others.  Part of me is downright selfish about my running headspace and not really wanting to share that with others.  It’s my flow, man.  Don’t mess with my flow.  If somebody else is there then it will be ‘our flow.’  I’m not sure I’m down for that.  I should try it I’m sure.  Maybe if I find my running tribe it will elevate my flow.

I run because trail running in the woods is beautiful and rejuvenating, and you never know what you will see.

My boys used to look through that turret
The Castle at Wilson Park

I run for the practice.  Running is a practice for me, like yoga or meditation.  It is the practice of actively getting out of my comfort zone and overcoming.  It is doing something because it is hard.  It is being uncomfortable in order to feel better.  It makes everything else so much easier.  It is going out in 90 degree weather, sweat dripping into my eyes and mouth, one foot in front of the other, with gratitude that these are the challenges that I get to work with from day to day.  It is going out in subfreezing temperatures that I abhor, welcoming that pain and discomfort with gratitude that I can still do this, that I can still conquer this and forget about the cold and discomfort in the middle of it all.

I am actively trying to diversify my exercise routine, do more swimming (I suck at swimming), more cycling.  It might be easier for me to find my tribe with cycling.  I’m not so stuck in my ways.

Ultimately, I run because it makes me feel alive.  We only get the chance to be on the planet for a short while.  I want to feel as good and alive as I can while I’m here, and running helps me do that.

Waterfall
Bridge at Wilson Park

Why do you run?  Or what practices do you have that help you?  And why do you do them?

Email to schedule an appt for a massage: imspa@hotmail.com

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 25 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Share

Betrayal of Age

The frisbee came flying at me and as I moved to catch it I tripped over this step in my yard.  It was one of those falls in infinite slow motion.  I was going down incrementally, with each new hit I thought surely that was the end of the fall, but it just kept going.  I tripped, my leg hit the step, then my hip, and I thought, ‘surely this is it,’ but no, then my upper body toppled over and hit the shed.

That’s right nursing humans.  I’m a fall risk.

When I finally came to rest my kids were silent.  I think if I were 30 years old we would have all been laughing our butts off.  But when you are almost 50 and you fall people get scared.

Levi came over to help me up, but I needed to make sure I hadn’t broken anything before I moved because the pain was pretty intense.  Zach said, “That looked bad.”

In my head I was thinking, “this is what it looks like when an almost 50 year old woman plays frisbee with the kids.”

There are defining moments when we have to face the betrayals of age.  When I discovered that the painful feeling in my fingers was never going to go away because I had arthritis–that was one of those moments.  My kids’ reaction to my fall was another one.

In my job as a nurse I have patients who tell me, “this has been a wake up call for me.”  These are the words of a patient who came into the hospital with blood sugar of 690 (normal blood sugar is 60-100).  Or the alcoholic who suffered debilitating seizures while detoxing and knows that he might not survive another bout with the bottle.

When we’re younger we can get away with eating all of the things.  We can get away with drinking too much.  Our body can recover from all of the abuses we inflict on ourselves–for a while.  We are invincible.  And then, usually incrementally, sometimes suddenly, the betrayal of age sets in.  Many times it’s incremental and we continue to ignore it until it smacks us to the ground.

If you ignore the smackdown, things don’t go well.  Whether it’s limiting the number of massages you do in a week, getting into an alcohol recovery program, adhering to the diet restrictions that keep you from getting an A1C of 14 (that’s really bad for diabetics), taking up exercise, meditation, massage, and relaxation practices to help keep your blood pressure down, if you don’t make those changes life becomes incredibly difficult.  And not just on you, but on everybody who cares about you.

I guess that means I need to be a more cautious frisbee player.  Dylan Thomas comes to mind.  I don’t want to have to be careful!!  My bruises are still healing, but I was able to get a chiropractic adjustment today, and when my bruises clear up I’ll get a massage.

The underlying message in all of these things is to stay open to new ways of living, new ways of eating, new ways of managing health.  It is inevitable that the betrayal of age will hit us all at some point, and our quality of life is directly related to whether we are open to adapting to those new normals.

Or maybe I just need to pay better attention to my surroundings eh?  Yep.  Cuz I’m a doofus.

 

Share

Recovery

This is my ‘year of recovery.’  Last year and the year before it were the ‘years of divorce.’  My ex-husband struggles with alcoholism and I finally felt able to make the leap.

He’s a beautiful man, talented, sweet, gentle, insightful, creative.  He was a good dad.  I love him.  I always will.

He’s also a man who struggles with depression, anger, and addiction.

What a 20 pound sledgehammer can do to a $400 blender.

I shared 27 years of my life with him and this divorce has been like the grieving of a death.  So much pain.

It is so complex and complicated that it is very difficult to write about because when I write about one aspect I feel as though I am betraying the other aspects when in reality they all coexist in the same moment.

If I say he was terrifying and my children weren’t safe then I feel like I’m not being fair to the fact that he was a wonderful dad and that he didn’t physically abuse our kids.  If I say that he’s an alcoholic then I feel like I’m ignoring the times when he was sober–his alcoholism came in waves progressively getting worse with each new wave.  When he was sober and not struggling with depression we fit together so well.  If I say he was domineering and that we all tiptoed around him then I feel like I’m betraying all the times he was so generous and supportive, insightful, and steadfast.

I’ve been around alcoholism my whole life.  My dad was an alcoholic, my brother was an alcoholic, my husband was an alcoholic, his dad was an alcoholic.  Even now in my job as a nurse I detox alcoholics regularly, over and over again, often the same people.

Alcoholics have taught me so many valuable lessons:

  • I don’t need anybody else to make me happy.
  • I can live peacefully even though there is darkness and depression around.
  • It is not necessary to stop loving and having compassion for someone even if you have to let them go.
  • Alcoholism is a family disease
  • I am not responsible for another person’s successes/failures or emotional state.  I am responsible only for my emotions/successes/failures.  This is huge and I love it.
  • Boundaries are healthy.
  • I am not a victim.
  • Independence.
  • Humility.
  • Compassion.
  • Acceptance.
  • It is hard being a human on the planet.
  • Life is fragile and precious.
  • Respect for all humans struggling with addiction or living with an addict.

My ex-husband was an amazing craftsman and carpenter.  He did beautiful work.  He could put things together that would leave other people scratching their heads.  ‘How in the world are we going to get this massive full wall of window installed on the drop off side of Mt. Sequoyah?’  He would find a way.

But our house hasn’t had siding for 20 years.  We have sub-floor in the dining area.  For some reason he didn’t have it in him to work on our home.  It’s a common problem for tradesmen.  Add that to the fact that when I told him we were getting a divorce he took a 20 pound sledgehammer through the house and destroyed about $30,000 worth of property–so you can see that I have some rebuilding and recovery to do in my life.

In case you didn’t know, it is legal for your spouse to destroy your property since it is also his property as defined by marriage.

Things that were destroyed? A guitar I bought when I was 17 years old, the TV, the TV stand, my Vitamix blender (if you have read any of my blog you know how important this piece of kitchen equipment is to me), built in bookshelves, an oak desk, computers, my hot tub, our wood burning stove.  He destroyed it all with a sledgehammer.

What a 20 pound sledgehammer can do to your guitar
Takamine Guitar I bought when I was 17 years old.

But it is all just stuff, and the point of all that is to say that this year I am in recovery.  I’m being optimistic calling it the year of recovery because recovery is a lifelong process.  So far during this process I have learned how to patch and repair sheetrock, I finished siding my house with concrete hardie board–in the process learned how to use a nail gun, compressor, circular saw, and a bunch of other tools, and I have learned so much more.

One of my favorite things, my hot tub, after the 20 pound sledgehammer problem.

My house is coming together, and so much of my time has been dedicated to that process.  There are many other pieces to this recovery.  Fortunately the process of physically rebuilding my house has helped tremendously with the process of reclaiming my life, redefining myself, building a better life for my kids, and providing them with a secure environment.

I hope that my ex can find his way back to his own recovery.  But I don’t have any control over that.   Anybody who has ever successfully negotiated their own recovery knows that it is a full time, life long job, and sobriety is only one piece of the puzzle.

I’m looking forward to the point in my recovery when I can use my time creating music, hosting get togethers, and writing books.  In the meantime I’m learning carpentry and writing in my spare time when I’m not being a single mom, working as a nurse, doing massage, or teaching massage therapists.  The work is good for me.

Being able to finally write about this is good for my recovery too.  I think another very important thing I have learned about alcoholism is that we are not alone.  This is such a pervasive illness that there are few people who have not been touched in some way by alcoholism.  Just knowing that is a comfort when coming from the culture of silence and stigma that follows addiction.

Our oak desk and computer after the sledgehammer

This weekend I’m going to try to inspire my kids to help me caulk the house to get it ready for paint.  When I’m not doing that I’ll be writing, running, and doing the few massage appointments I have scheduled.  And when I get my house painted I promise to post a few pictures so that all my images are not depicting destruction.  There is a rebirth that happens with recovery.

Let me know if you want to get on the massage table.  I’m doing massage most Fridays and some Sundays.  It’s part of who I am and I love it.  I hope you’ll make time to get on the table soon!

By the way, massage therapy can be a very helpful part of recovery too.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

 

Share

Hot Nurses, Sexism, and the Culture of Silence #metoo

“You have to pick your battles.”  That’s what my friend says to me as we relate the different ways in which we have dealt with sexism over the years.  The culture of silence.  Why do we have to pick our battles?  Because it is so stinking pervasive.  That’s why.  If it only happened every now and then, you could hit it head on, and get past it.  You wouldn’t have to weigh out the consequences and implications of possible conflict in the work place and out.

I wrote this post last year and never published it.  Since then the #metoo movement took off and more women have been speaking up about sexism and sexual harassment.

Sitting on the sidelines of my kid’s soccer game as he was playing another team that was co-ed.  Boys and girls.  There was a mom behind me screaming at her son to, “Get her.  Let her have it.”  Then she spoke to the rest of us.  “He (my son) told me he didn’t like playing teams with girls because he had to be careful. I said, no you don’t!  If she’s playing on a boy team she’s asking for it.  You let her have it.”

I was horrified.  And yet, as is so often the case when we are involved with sexism our shock and confusion render us silent.  Is this really happening?  She feels supported enough in this environment to be so rabidly sexist toward these young soccer girls and in what she is teaching her son about how women should be treated.  The whole, ‘she’s asking for it’ line.

What’s wrong with teaching your son to treat the female soccer players like humans, with good sportsmanship?

Another woman asked me how I felt about co-ed teams while in the same sentence saying that she didn’t like it.  She said that girls develop faster than boys and that gave them an unfair advantage (we were losing to the co-ed team).  I told her that I was glad to see that there were girls on the team and that they were doing well.

But I think that if they hadn’t been doing well, that mother would have said instead, “well, what did they expect, playing on a boys’ field.”  No matter how it was going these women had it out for girls on the ‘boys’ team.

These are grown women.  Mothers of 12 year old children.  And I said nothing.

As a small business owner for 10 years I hadn’t had to deal with workplace sexism.  I was the boss and I set the tone for my environment.  But when I got into nursing in an environment that serves a predominantly male population, it was everywhere.  Patients grabbing me inappropriately, talking about the nurses with reference to sexual fantasies, and from coworkers who would say, “aw let him have his fun.  He’s not hurting anybody.”

Once I had a nurse (in a superior position) approach me with my patient in the hall. My patient was demented and needed to be walked continually to feel that we were going somewhere.  He didn’t know where he was going but he knew he wanted to get out of there.  The other nurse said to the patient, “Why do you want to get out of here?  You have this hot nurse here helping you out?  Look at her.  You’ve got it made here.”  He continued the conversation with the patient, referencing me as the hot nurse repeatedly and in different ways.  I stepped away from the two of them.  My face was flushed.  I had witnessed this nurse trash talking women disrespectfully with almost every encounter.  This was the first time he had spoken about me in that way in my presence.  When he was leaving I came back to the patient’s chair and said to the nurse, “It is not okay for you to talk about me like that.”  The nurse apologized and he hasn’t done it to me since then.  He has not however, stopped disrespecting other women on the floor to their face and behind their back.  They probably felt as disempowered as I so often have, and haven’t found the words or courage to fight it.

More recently there was a nurse assistant who was talking about how rough his life was since he couldn’t get out to the strip clubs.  It’s his right to spend his time as he wants.  But in our work setting I felt uncomfortable listening to him detailing the things he was missing out on because he was working so much. This wasn’t a private conversation he was having with an intimate friend.  This was him boastfully and loudly talking to all of us in the nurses station about how rough his life was because he couldn’t get to the naked dancers and there was no porn available.  Again, I said nothing.  It wasn’t directed at me personally, but it was assuming a comfort level with a sexual topic that objectifies women and devalues their humanity.

I think it’s a combination of shock, fear, and shame that makes us remain silent when we should speak up when being dehumanized.  Even while writing this post I question if I should write certain aspects of it.  I question if I will even post it.  Why?  Because, what if somebody I know reads this, what if I lose my job for talking about the realities of workplace sexism, what if the soccer moms blacklist my son from events because I’m weird and not a part of the ‘good ole boy network’ that believes that women have it coming to them.  We feel shame when we are denigrated like that.  Whether our logical mind buys into the abuse or not, we feel ashamed to be that which is so easily ridiculed and put down.  Our culture is not supportive of rational discussions of sexism.  Our culture, whether it intends to or not, is supportive of silence.  Put your head down and it will be over in a minute.

I hope that my sons will see a female opponent the way they see a male opponent, as a human to be treated with respect and good sportsmanship.  I hope that they will stand up for women in the workplace and recognize that it is not good sportsmanship to allow an elderly man to grab a nurse’s  breasts because, “let him have his fun.  He’s not hurting anybody.”  The fact that these elderly men haven’t learned that it is assault to grab a woman’s breast should not be a deterrent to educating them now.

I hope for myself that I can recover more quickly from the shock of these situations in the future and hit them head on without fear of backward consequences that blame the victim.  Because of course, according to some people, I’m asking for it.  What I’m truly asking for is to be treated like a human, that all women be treated equally as humans.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

 

Share

Massage Times Available

Massage appointment times available March 23rd, 30th, April 6th, and 8th, 13th, and 20th.  Text 479-466-8294 to request an appointment or request an appointment through the Integrated Massage Facebook Page

I love my job as a nurse.  It’s another way of serving, and I have found that my life makes more sense when I am serving others.  Left to my own devices my brain becomes a treacherous self involved place.  There are a lot of things I don’t love about it, but some of the things I do love about it are my coworkers–I work with some amazing humans and I’m fortunate to be able to spend my days with them.  I love the patients.

Mostly I work with grouchy old dudes.  They are often cute and curmudgeonly.  I love it when I get to send them home after a bout with pneumonia, flu, or infection.  I especially love it when I get a patient who is open to taking responsibility for their health and they want to hear about food, meditation, and exercise.

Another thing I love about it is that it allows me to have large chunks of time off when I can create other things, be with friends, develop curriculum for teaching massage, take on a few massage clients, write.

Today is the first of 5 days off.  But there is soooo much I want to do!  I’m developing curriculum for continuing education classes, compiling information for writing a book, spending as much time as I can with my kids, repairing the siding on my house, helping my kid paint his bedroom, giving my kids massages, hanging out in the hot tub with them, training for a 25K, teaching a dance class.  There are so many things to do in this life.  I wish the days were longer.  I’m grateful for my job that lets me have time at home to play.

I’ve been doing massage on Fridays and some Sunday afternoons.  Usually the times fill right up, and often if there is a cancellation there is somebody waiting to take that spot.  I’m really grateful to be doing some massage now.  I’m especially grateful that my  children, even my adult children  still ask me for massage.  It’s pretty special.

Let me know if you want some time on the table.

Share

Good Solid Chiropractic Adjustments

During the Persian Gulf War I was an Airman in the Air Force working in a warehouse, driving trucks, forklifts, and lifting heavy boxes.  I hurt my low back then–was out of commission for about 3 months.  The medical doctors did x-rays and tests, they put me through physical therapy, ice therapy, and electrical stimulation.  They put me on light duty for months.  It wasn’t until I got out of the military and was in massage therapy school that I had the ah-ha moment of chiropractic.  I was in excruciating pain and my instructor said, your sacro-iliac joints are misaligned.  You need a chiropractic adjustment.

It was miraculous.  The next day I felt almost 100% better.

I have had to manage low back pain ever since .  It’s a process and some days are better than others, but the tools I have developed over time to help are what I have shaped my life and occupation around.

  • Eat good food.  (Maintaining a good weight is definitely a factor in low back pain)
  • Move it or lose it.  (Exercise is imperative)
  • Yoga-intentional stretching (I’ve been bad about this lately)
  • Massage.  (of course)
  • And Chiropractic

I have gone to many chiropractors over the years, and always,  when I go, I see clients I have referred there.  I love trying out new chiropractors, but like any profession, it’s good to get a good referral.

Until recently I have paid cash for my chiropractic visits.  That pay range has been between $35 and $55 a session.  I’m not interested in getting on  a program, and I’m not interested in the bells and whistles–heat, TENS units (especially since they re-use the stickers-yuck), ice, machine manipulation–I can do all that stuff on my own.

My son needed a couple chiropractic adjustments to help him recover from a soccer injury so I took him and used my insurance.  2 times to the chiropractor–$400.  The adjustment itself was affordable, but all the bells and whistles were through the roof expensive.

I just want the adjustment.

And I told them that.  I was getting adjustments there as well.  And even though I stated very clearly that I was not interested in electrical stimulation or heat, my chiropractor ushered me to the treatment room after my adjustment anyway.  The tech person took me into a room and showed me how to stretch my piriformis–I think I know that one by now.

It’s a money making machine.  If insurance will pay hundreds of dollars for adjunct therapies, then everybody is getting them.  This is so much what I dislike about our health care system.  The system will pay it–so we’ll do it.  It’s the difference between a $55 adjustment, and a $200 visit.

This is why health care is so expensive and inaccessible to the masses.  It doesn’t make sense.

Frustration in that situation led me to seek out a friend I’ve known for 12 years but have never visited for services.  Dr. Joanna Hudec.  She has always been active in our community, attending race events, supporting the massage therapist community, teaching bodywork professionals.

She does a great adjustment, she listens to what my concerns are, she doesn’t give me unnecessary bells and whistles, and she cares about her community.

Effective adjustments.  And, she takes insurance.  Bonus!

If you are looking for a good chiropractor, go see them at Spine Sports and Rehab.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a local hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Share

Middle Aged Heart Attacks–What You Eat Matters!

Heart Attack.

My patients come in waves.  The most common patients I have are grumpy old dudes with congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.   I’m pretty fond of them.  This week all of my patients were younger, some younger than me, with coronary artery disease at huge risk for heart attack.  One had a diastolic blood pressure that never went below 120, one had to be taken for a stent (to bypass arteries that are ‘clogged’ and not able to allow blood to flow to the heart), and another had had a heart attack and stroke the week before.

I knew when I was getting in to nursing that I did not want to work with cancer.  A lot of things cause cancer, but it’s not as easy to determine, and it can be quite indiscriminate.  One of the biggest predetermining factors for cancer is age.  Eventually it’s going to get you.  That’s depressing and I don’t want to think about that all the time, cancer seems nigh unconquerable.

Hypertension, coronary artery disease, and atherosclerosis–these are things with direct cause and effect relationships with food, exercise, and lifestyle choices.  Yes, there is a genetic component, but we can control the variables.  These are diseases that I can focus on and get excited about.

When I was helping my middle aged patient on the stretcher to go to the hospital that would put in his stent, the family was talking about where they would go for dinner on the way to the hospital.  The ambulance workers were telling the family where all the good fried chicken restaurants were.

This is a family who is looking death in the face through the lens of an atherosclerotic coronary artery.  This man’s father had died young from a heart attack.  The ambulance workers recognized The ambulance workers recognized his family name because the siblings called 911 for chest pain frequently.

My input?  Fried chicken clogs arteries.  We are sending your dear sweet husband to surgery for clogged arteries and you are going to stop on the way and buy some more grease.  Now I realize that lifestyle change takes time and education, but it is frustrating when our behaviors are so obviously self defeating.

I gave them my ‘what for’ speech about packing an artery with their food while sending hubby under the knife to carve out a new pathway to oxygenate the heart, and then I recommended the health food store deli across the street as a great place to pick up something fast that wouldn’t take years off their lives.

As I was walking away I could hear the ambulance worker reinforcing the idea that fried chicken was a perfectly fine thing to eat when under stress and the family seemed to agree that this was no time for health food.

I’m at a loss.

A couple weeks ago I was trying to convince an older congestive heart failure and COPD (he can’t breathe well) patient of the same thing.  His family was bringing him fast food and he kept asking me to bring him sodas.  Of course every time he asks me for a soda it comes with a lecture on the evils of putting bad fuel in your engine.  He argued and argued with me that he just wasn’t a water drinking kind of guy and that fast food tastes good to him.

This is a man who weighs over 300 pounds and is in the hospital for shortness of breath.  The extra weight he’s carrying alone could make a person short of breath.

One day, while I was caring for him, I said, “You wouldn’t put bad fuel in your car would you?”  He stopped and looked at me for a minute.  He said, “You got me there.  I can’t argue with that.”

There’s a sign in the shoe store for runners that says, “Don’t choose your shoes because of the color!”  Runners choose their shoes for their function.  Yes, you can choose food because it tastes good, but the function of eating is to fuel the body.

“But I don’t like that kind of food” is not a good defense.

It is hard being a human on the planet.  Making good choices is hard, and it’s a process.  And our culture does not support healthy food choices, even our ambulance paramedics are advocating for fast food.  Food is addictive.  We want what we want and it’s hard to see the direct cause and effect that can carve time off of our lives.

I don’t know that my constant re-education of patients on lifestyle and food choices does any good, but I’m at a loss as to what else to do to try to affect change.

But I do have an idea for a book that surveys hospitals that are doing healthy food well and asks how they got that way.  Maybe we could use that kind of research to affect policy change in a more systemic way in our hospital systems.

In the meantime I’ll continue with the one on one approach on the front lines.  What you eat matters!

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a local hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

Share

Last Chance to Sign up for Thai Massage Class in January

We have a good Thai Massage class shaping up for the weekend of the 27th and 28th.  If you were thinking of taking it and haven’t made the commitment yet, now is the time!  Thai massage is a much different modality from traditional Swedish.  It’s an invigorating massage with goals of unblocking Thai energy meridians, relaxing the body, and improving range of motion with stretches.  I’m excited to bring this work to Northwest Arkansas.  If you haven’t tried Thai you don’t know what your missing!  Come join us!

Share