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TCM Congress in Rothenburg is Largest in Western World
In the medieval town of Rothenburg, deep set within the Bavarian countryside in Southern Germany, the TCM Kongress Rothenburg each year draws around 1.200 participants from more than 40 different countries to attend the biggest TCM conference in the Western world.
Recreational Cannabis Use and TCM
Many people are drawn to cannabis for its effects physically, mentally and emotionally. Medically, cannabis has some legitimate uses, however the scope of this article is limited to the recreational use of cannabis.
An Excerpt from TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics
This excerpt is reprinted with permission from Jamie Wu. TCM Case Studies: Pediatrics was released in 2014 by People's Medical Publishing House.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
There Really is No Room for Sexism
Recently, Matteo* (a transgender male) approached me during a break in an advanced shiatsu class in Berlin where he was one of two men in a group of 20 women. "Pamela. Don't forget to remind the translator to include male endings."
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Synergy Doesn't Happen in Silos: Acupuncture in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings
As acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine continue to intersect and integrate with biomedical approaches, the conversation about integration expands and becomes richer.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
The Way We Are Designed: A Conversation with Gil Hedley, PhD
I was first introduced to the work of Gil Hedley by Tom DiFerdinando. He gifted me Gil's DVD series.
Treating Beyond Pain
More often than not, when a patient presents to the office, it is for a pain complaint. Headache, neck pain, low back pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel... The pain is often the focus of the patient's mindset, and they don't often have any thought of what comes after the pain.
Converting More Patients to Your Practice
In 2013 and 2014, the theme was "the money is in the list." This meant that if you had a big email list, you were really making some "cha-ching." Unfortunately, having thousands of emails doesn't equate to thousands of dollars in profit.
The Need for a New Medical Model: A Challenge for Biopsychosocial and Ecopsychologica Medicine
Chinese medicine speaks of alignment between humans, heaven and earth. It is a complex view with a focus upon relationship. These are comprehensive ideas with no specific terms in contemporary medical practice.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Will You Be an Amplifer or a Mute?
These times are changing, and changing quickly. There have been many challenges to this profession throughout the past few years. The challenge is to talk, then talk and talk some more about this medicine.
The Dietary Supplement Research Dilemma
I do not care what the truth is, one way or another; I just want to know it. And when it comes to dietary supplements, the truth can be hard to find for a number of reasons.
November, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 11
Companionship in Cancer Care
By Tracy Walton, LMT, MS
An oncology nurse once told me that in order to get up each morning and go to work at the bone marrow transplant unit at her hospital, a certain amount of inner preparation was needed. She needed to be able to look her patients in the eye and say, "I will walk with you" through the treatment process.
Her words have stayed with me and referred me back to that inner preparation time and time again.It's no wonder so many nurses are drawn to massage therapy, as there seem to be several parallels in massage therapy and nursing. Touch is one of them. Alleviating suffering is another. And companionship is a third.
In my own work with people with cancer, I've encountered a range of individual experiences and subpopulations: cancer survivors, people in treatment, people at end of life, patients in the middle of the diagnostic process and caregivers. Within each subpopulation of my practice, individual experiences also differ widely. I've worked with people in many emotional states - those who are fearful, driven, hopeful, outraged, accepting, cheerful, terrified, resigned, perplexed, grieving, despairing and at peace. No matter what the journey looks like, all can use companionship.
To be that companion, I too have to ask myself each morning whether I am prepared to truly walk with my clients. Walking with a client means listening deeply, opening my heart, accompanying them without judgment, accepting that wherever they are is wherever they need to be. It means breathing through my own fears and letting my care come through my hands without hesitation. It means touching my client with full-hand contact: palms, fingers and fingertips. It means looking for ways to my client's way, without trying to fix it, without needing either my client or my client's path to be different. To truly walk with my client, I need to prepare myself. I wrote recently for Massage Today about "Meeting the Emotional Challenges of Oncology Massage" in the June 2007 issue and offered some self-care measures to help prepare for each day. For the most part, I follow them regularly.
End of Life
Another step in my own preparation is to read. Recently, I came across an interesting small study from Yale University on massage therapy and meditation at end of life.1 The study sample was made up of people with HIV, not people with cancer. But the study was instructive for me, not just for end-of-life care, but for middle-of-life care, life-crisis care and beginning-of-life care - any kind of care. In fact, whenever I read an end-of-life study, I try to replace "end of life" with "life," "birth," "health," "illness" and so on, replacing one point in the life cycle with another to see if the principles still apply. They often do.
These researchers, led by a physician's assistant and physician, pointed out what many end-of-life caregivers have noted: Little attention is given to the quality of life, especially spiritual quality of life, at this important transition point. They set out to study it, using massage, meditation and both in tandem.
The result was powerful. I have read many massage studies but none have moved me to tears as this one did. The researchers wrote plainly and clearly about their study population and its unmet needs. Years of listening carefully to their patients were evident in their words and in their study plan. They described a sample of 58 patients with late-stage AIDS, all in residential hospice care. They examined overall quality-of-life (QOL) measurements and QOL subscores in well-being, physical function and others. They were particularly interested in their subjects' experience of spiritual, or transcendent, quality of life.
The researchers randomized patients to one of four groups. For comparison, a control group received only "usual care;" care usually provided to people in late-stage disease. The other three groups also received usual care, plus one or more interventions. One group received daily massage, another instruction in meditation. The fourth group received both massage and meditation.
Swedish massage was provided in 30-minute sessions, five days per week, for the four-week study period. The meditation instructor offered a cassette, a tape player, and instruction to do the exercise at least once daily, and she made herself available for questions and assistance throughout the study period. "Metta," loving-kindness meditations guided the listener to feelings of love for the self and others and feelings of well-being. Forgiveness meditation guided the listener to forgiveness of self and others. Looking over this study, I had my first experience of reading statements such as "Just as I wish to be free from danger, may you be free from danger. Just as I wish to be well, may you be well. Just as I wish to be peaceful, may you be peaceful," in a medical journal. It was a sweet moment, if initially disconcerting.
The investigators found interesting results. Alone, massage or meditation affected QOL slightly, but results were not significantly different than the control group. However, when massage and meditation were combined, the QOL outcomes were statistically significant. Moreover, the combined effect of massage and meditation was greater than the sum of its parts. That is, the two interventions combined were more powerful than the additive effects of the two single interventions. In other words, a synergy seemed to be at work. These patients' improved scores persisted even four weeks after the last intervention and may even have persisted at the 68-week mark.
Initially, the researchers had set up the study because of their concern about the experience of AIDS - that it was inherently isolating. Their concern with using meditation was that it can feel isolating as well. By adding in the massage component, they hoped to see whether the companionship of massage made people more receptive to the meditation. From their results, it seemed so. Moreover, they speculated that the meditation could have made people more receptive to the massage. It seemed to me that the "felt sense" of meditation and the "felt sense" massage were potent interactions in the study.
The study is small, and the investigators made no sweeping statements about their results. Instead, they presented it as justification for further study. They suggested future studies be rigorously designed to explore any links between massage and meditation in late-stage disease.
As many studies do, this one offered more questions and speculation than firm answers. However, in it was a hint of the companionship we all need during our most important transitions. Considering all of the hands we need to hold firmly throughout our lives as we start kindergarten, give birth, leave home, get married, say goodbye, hear a cancer diagnosis or make any major change in life, this would seem obvious. Sometimes we forget this, too, leaving one or more of us isolated for a time. This isolation is especially poignant during a health crisis such as cancer or AIDS.
The journeys people take through cancer and AIDS aren't limited to the end of life and the majority of experiences happen smack in the middle of it. While AIDS carries its own particular stigma and isolation, cancer also can be a lonely experience. During any health crisis, Metta meditations on loving kindness and nondenominational prayers of forgiveness may help, as may the skilled touch of massage. Loving kindness comes in many forms and massage might provide one clear, unmistakable, flesh-and-blood sense of it.
May we reach then with firm, certain and open hands.
Click here for more information about Tracy Walton, LMT, MS.
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