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Monday, April 9, 2012

New learnings in osteopathy.

As promised, I am passing along part of my journal on what I learned from other osteopathic physicians during my time at the American Academy of Osteopathy convocation, 2012, in Louisville, KY.

The convocation I am attending is held annually. Osteopathic physicians who want to learn more about hands on osteopathic practice attend these gatherings and get to learn the latest things about our field. Increasingly, more and more foreign osteopathic doctors are attending and presenting.

Today Dan Bensky, DO, presented on the evaluation and treatment of peripheral nerves. The nervous system is divided into two parts consisting of the brain and spinal cord or central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system which is everything else. Peripheral nerve injuries are very common. Perhaps you may have heard of sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome? These are only two of the best known peripheral nerve problems. There are many more.

Traditionally, osteopathic physicians have not been taught to palpate and treat the nerves themselves. We work around the nerves and are often able to release the problems that involve them in this manner. A number of years ago a French osteopath, Jean Pierre Barral, developed a method to actually feel the nerve and then treat it. Dan Bensky presented this work here. It was the first time I have ever actually felt a living nerve and learned how to diagnose and treat it. After close to thirty years of doing this work this was a very thrilling discovery for me.

Another doctor, Ed Stiles, DO, studied with some very famous osteopathic physicians, all of whom are now gone. Few people could replicate the results of their treatments. After studying with one of them, Fred Mitchell, Sr, DO, he was asked by his teacher to diagnose and treat a patient of Dr. Mitchell with the teacher present.

Dr. Stiles did as he was told and then Dr. Mitchell asked the patient how she felt. " I don't feel a damn bit different than when I walked in," she replied. Dr. Stiles was shocked and disappointed since he thought he had done a pretty good job. His teacher commented, " Your diagnoses was correct. However ,the sequence which you used to treat this patient was all wrong."

He was then asked to repeat his diagnoses which he did. Subsequently, he was shown a very different sequence of treatment for the various points than he had used. He applied the osteopathic treatment as directed and then his teacher asked the woman how she felt. " I feel great, exactly like I normally do after you treat me!"

So Dr. Stiles realized that it is not enough to accurately diagnose what is wrong with the patient but also that the sequence of treatment is critical. This was a secret that the old timers knew but, for whatever reason, never got transmitted. Naturally, I found his lecture and workshop on how to diagnose and sequence treatment tremendously exciting.

Another fascinating experience yesterday was to learn from Ed Goering, DO, a physician who practices in rural Oregon. Dr. Goering whom I had heard of but never studied with, was a disciple of a man whom I did have the privilege of meeting in the 1980's, Larry Jones, DO. Dr. Jones was the originator of the counterstrain system of diagnosis and treatment which is now taught in every single osteopathic curriculum. It is a very effective way to help people via osteopathic manipulation and I use it often.

However, I never knew that it could be used to treat the lymphatic system. Dr. Goering has developed this application and he taught it yesterday. He let us know that when patients come to him with a sore throat or upper respiratory infection he gives them a prescription for the appropriate antibiotic as well as a counterstrain lymphatic treatment. So far, not a single one of these prescriptions has needed to be filled.

Dan Bensky, DO, spent many years studying Chinese medicine in Macao, near Hong Kong, before China was opened up to Americans. He told a story of how he was the only non-Chinese in the school. Apparently, one of his instructors believed that non-Chinese were incapable of understanding and practicing Chinese medicine. As a result she not only refused to teach Dr. Bensky but also refused to answer his questions in class and even to grade his examinations. Many of his classmates were very upset and asked him how he expected to graduate. He told us today that he let them know, " I am from Detroit. If she doesn't cooperate then I will have her killed." He managed to get a straight A average as a result of this comment.

There are so many valuable things which I am learning here.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Five regrets of the dying.

This contains some nuggets of wisdom which we can all use in some way.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom. "When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently," she says, "common themes surfaced again and again."

Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

"This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence."

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

"Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

"Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying."

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."