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A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Our Biggest Challenges to Compete in Wellness Care
In the first article in this four-article series [May 1 DC], I made the case that chiropractors should either embrace offering lifestyle wellness in their practices or face the possibility of losing their place in the wellness care marketplace.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
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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