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Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Managing Today's Fertility Patient
I recently received an email from one of my fertility patients: "Got my lab results back. FSH is 11, AMH is 0.7. My doctor said these numbers aren't good. I guess I'm infertile. Just as a thought. Just set up an appointment to speak with an adoption agency."
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
June, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 06
Caring too Much
By Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR
Years ago, while sitting in a restaurant with a colleague, I learned something about myself. We each worked as massage therapists in eldercare facilities and it was really nice to talk to someone who "got it." Our conversation took an unexpected turn.We candidly admitted seemingly unhealthy responses to our work — and they were quite similar: distancing more than we thought we should and feeling irritated with other caregivers. There was one thing that stands out. We each were avoiding our work by putting off seeing clients and rushing through sessions. This caught our attention because we both love our work. So, why were we avoiding it? It just didn't make sense. We had a good laugh at ourselves, got some relief and I'm grateful for it even years later (thanks, Jeff).
I now realize that we might each have experienced compassion fatigue. As it turns out, we aren't alone. Anyone in a "helping profession" is vulnerable. Nurses, doctors, counselors, veterinarians, social workers, chaplains, emergency response workers and people caring for aging parents can also experience this. Massage therapists are on the list, too. I think those of us who specialize in working with frail elders and people living with terminal illness are especially vulnerable. Choosing to serve this special population means we are sensitive people to begin with — not a bad quality to have, but maybe it means we need to check in with ourselves from time to time to avoid the toll of compassion fatigue.
Compassion fatigue is a relatively new term. Dr. Charles Figley, an expert on the subject, describes it as, "a state experienced by those helping people in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it is traumatizing for the helper." He goes on to say that, "the capacity for compassion and empathy seems to be at the core of our ability to do the work and at the core of our ability to be wounded by the work."
Compassion fatigue results from the cumulative impact of taking care of people living with serious illness, trauma, abuse or severe conditions. It's different than job burnout, which is dissatisfaction with our employment situation, not necessarily the work itself.
Wanting Others To Be Happy
Compassion is our feelings and thoughts when we witness the suffering of another and the unconditional desire to alleviate that suffering. The Dalai Lama describes compassion as the "wish for another being to be free from suffering and wanting them to be happy." He also tells us that sometimes we confuse compassion with attachment, which is our own personal investment in the outcome of the situation. In other words, when we think we are feeling compassion, we actually are wrapped up in our own emotional needs rather than simply being open to the needs of the other person. Perhaps it's attachment that leads to compassion fatigue, not compassion itself. In my experience, when I truly feel compassion, I'm uplifted and it does my heart good. I feel love.
A perfect illustration of this happened just yesterday to a massage therapist named Jane in a workshop taking place in a long-term care facility. When Jane walked into the elder's room, she was stunned when she took in what she saw — an extremely thin, emaciated woman with severe bruising and discoloration on her arms and legs sitting in her wheelchair, alone. Jane described her first reaction as fear, which turned to sadness for this woman's condition and knowing that she really couldn't do anything to change it. But she conjured up the courage to stay present and focused her attention on this woman rather than the outer condition. The fear softened. She gently massaged the woman's shoulders and neck and she told Jane, "that feels good." Jane shared that following the session, instead of fear she felt good knowing she had made a difference by connecting with this woman. She was able to drop the attachment to the fear and sadness which allowed her to be present and both she and the elder were uplifted in the process.
Knowing the Signs
How can you recognize compassionate fatigue? Some of the symptoms might seem like "normal" stress responses and you might associate them with your work. After all, we live in a pretty stressful world these days. Some characteristics of compassion fatigue include:
Recognizing our vulnerability to these symptoms is important. How can we avoid this reaction or ease them when they happen? The answer lies in holistic self-care. Advice about self care typically includes physical support like regular exercise, getting enough sleep and good nutrition. However, we shouldn't stop there. Nancy Jo Bush, an oncology nurse, says that holistic self-care also includes setting empathetic boundaries; self awareness and self forgiveness; being in tune with one's spirituality and finding hope. The experts agree that reaching out to others and developing a support system is critical. Who would you turn to if you needed the support of an understanding friend? I personally like the advice from a practitioner working in hospice who says, "lighten up and don't forget to laugh."
That reminds me of an old Joni Mitchell lyric, "laughing and crying, you know it's the same release." Thanks, Joni. We'll all try to remember that!
Click here for more information about Ann Catlin, LMT, NCTMB, OTR.
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