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In the Dec. 1, 2015 issue, we have Donald Petersen reporting on "the adapting chiropractic practice," which includes multidisciplinary practice as an option; a ChiroPoll indicating 59 percent of DCs are seeing at least 21 patients per day and 27 percent are seeing more than 40.
Changing the Cultural View of Medicine
Many hospitals in the U.S. are incorporating integrative clinics that include Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cleveland Clinic has led the charge for adding a traditional Chinese herbal medicine clinic to their existing acupuncture program.
From Antiquity to Modernity: Huang Qin Tang at Yale Medical School, Part 1
Traditional Chinese medicine is a coherent medical system with several unique characteristics: it originated almost 3,000 years ago; in its area of origin, it has been practiced without interruption since its inception.
East Meets West
Gung Hay Fat Choi. Welcome to the year of the Monkey. There will be fireworks for both January and February this year. What great celebrations.
Do You Teach Patients How to Breathe Properly?
Spinal manipulation often produces quick results in terms of pain alleviation and improved range of motion. Unfortunately, once the patient is no longer in pain, they may discontinue therapy, only to be plagued by the same complaint at a future date.
The Roots of Insomnia
One of the most common clinical presentations is insomnia. Next to digestive disorders, sleep disorders are one of the most common complaints the clinician will encounter in daily practice.
Interprofessionalism: What it Means and Why You Should Care
Interprofessionalism in education and in practice is a growing trend across health care in the United States. The idea that team-based care and collaborative practice can improve health care has been around more than 50 years.
Billing and Coding for Moxibustion
Q: I am trying to locate a code for cupping and moxibustion, and have had various fellow acupuncturists indicate that they bill using the existing codes for heat, 97010 hot packs or 97026 infra-red for moxa and 97016 vasopneumatic device for cupping.
News in Brief
A Winner in and Out of the Office; Ready for the "Have-A-Heart" Campaign? New Integrative Medicine Journal.
Preventing ACL Injuries in Female Athletes
For female athletes, the key to optimal athletic health lies in preventing ACL injuries. In medical terms, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the primary restraint to the anterior displacement of the tibia on the femur at all angles of the knee flexor.
Ethics: The Glue That Holds Us Together
Kudos to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) for creating a code of ethics for the nationwide profession and for deciding to make courses in ethics a requirement for certification renewal.
Asking the Insurance Rep the Right Questions
One of the first or last questions a potential patient often asks is: "Do you take insurance?" An ill-informed or optimistic, "yes" can result in delayed or non-payment. Instead, just say: "Let me check if you are eligible first."
Yo San University Helps Make LA Communities Healthier
An element of healthcare training often overlooked is the residual benefit to communities served by Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) schools nationwide.
Spine Surgery: A Tale of Greed and Corruption
All too often, where there's substantial money to be made, greed and corruption inevitably follow.
Osteoporosis Isn't Always the Case
What is your diagnosis? The patient is a 58-year-old female with back pain. I am sure all of you see the compression fracture at L2; however, there are some findings that suggest this is not a compression fracture due to osteoporosis.
The Amazing Clinical Versatility of Milk Thistle (Part 1)
Most of us know that the standardized extract from the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is probably the best-proven herb for protecting the liver from chemical and inflammatory damage.
The Future of Functional Neurology
Functional is the hot buzzword in health care these days; witness the rising popularity of functional medicine, functional testing and yes, functional neurology.
The MRI: When and Why to Order One
As I lecture around the country to both chiropractors and medical specialists, it's clear one of the main disconnects between the two professions is that of an accurate diagnosis.
Percussion Therapy: An Experiment
My study of qi began more than 20 years ago — long before my study of TCM, points or pathways. It all started with an awareness in my hands and physical manifestations in the way of blockages while working on clients.
Elevated Shoulder? Check the QL
As you know, posture reveals a great deal about the body. Posture is a unique mental and physical landscape revealing compensations and adaptations to life. It's a classic mind-and-body story.
Forgotten Options for Musculoskeletal Health
Challenges with musculoskeletal health are of tremendous concern for many people today.
Integrative Medicine Can Shape the Profession
As the AOM profession struggles to define the role of "integrative" medicine within their practices their schools and organizations, students, faculty, alumni and administrators at schools wrestle with discussions of how much, where, how, and what to "integrate."
Window of the Sky Points
The acupuncture points known as Window of the Sky are a modern creation. There is no reference in Chinese medical texts for an acupuncture point category called Window of the Sky.
Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2016
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) published its annual fitness trend forecast in the November / December 2015 issue of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal.
Sell Out: Using Research for the Wrong Reasons
The above chorus is from the ska band Reel Big Fish's 1997 hit song, "Sell Out," from their album, "Turn the Radio Off." In the song, the singer sarcastically relates the plight of a musician who is tired of "flipping burgers" and is willing to get "lots of money" by playing "what they want you to hear" in order to get a recording contract.
Compassion and Compassion Fatigue: Balancing Your Emotions in the Treatment Room
I entered massage therapy to serve others, and oncology massage therapy because of how deeply that service affected me. In general, massage therapists enter the profession because we care: about people as a whole and in particular about their health and well-being.
But, could caring end up hurting or draining us?
Those of us helping professions — nurses, doctors, social workers, chaplains, massage therapists, and more — can be strongly affected by working with clients experiencing trauma in the form of a health crisis. This strain can happen as a result of working with one particular client, or it can be a cumulative pile-on of a number of different emotionally difficult cases.
There is a lot of discussion and not much agreement out there about the exact meaning of the terms "compassion," "empathy," "compassion fatigue," and "burnout." We'll lump them together under "being deeply affected by a client's experience."
Deeply Affected by a Client's Experience
Whatever we call it, it's important to look at any hard-hitting emotional toll on ourselves when we care for people experiencing pain, trauma, mortality, and suffering. Imagine you are seeing a particular client diagnosed with advanced cancer, and she shares with you how hard and emotional her treatment is, how she is too fatigued to play with her children, and how, most of all, she is terrified of dying before she gets to see them grow up.
That's all just from what your conversations. During the hands-on session, you learn about the physical pain in her hands and feet, the restricted movement from past surgery or radiation, and the ongoing wear of chemotherapy on her hair and skin. You know these things intimately as your hands touch her body in a full hour of time. This intimacy can challenge the separation we need — or think we need — between ourselves and our own fears of cancer, mortality, pain, and suffering.
So our knee-jerk reaction to this might be, "How can I protect myself? How can I establish good boundaries like we were taught to do in massage school?" We don't want to feel our clients' emotional pain and distress, so we might rush to put up strong dividers between "us" and "them."
When our clients represent our worst fears, and we spend a huge amount of effort to protect ourselves from those fears, our lives and our work can suffer. Here, the discussion typically turns to the boundaries we must have for this protection. Healthy boundaries can help us manage our own emotional well-being, but it's worth discussing what those boundaries should look like. The boundaries in my own work that have been most important are regarding self-care, rather than separation or protection from clients' experiences.
Taking on My Own Suffering, Not Others
My first lesson in this came from Irene Smith, more than twenty years ago. Irene is a longtime massage therapist, educator, and author. She founded Service Through Touch, serving people with HIV in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1980's. She has gone on to teach us much about massage in illness and at end of life, and maintains her blog and schedule at www.everflowing.org.
Irene said, "I don't believe that we take on another human being's suffering. I believe that what happens is that we find ourselves in an experience that simply opens us up to our suffering."
With her words and instruction, Irene taught me that, while I might think I am absorbing my client's expressed or unexpressed pain, in reality, the situation is provoking my own pain. If I follow her guidance, I can learn much about my old losses, current fears, and the human condition in general. As I've learned about myself, I've become more present with others.
With this lesson, my relationship to compassion began evolving. I have learned important lessons from several teachers about joining with people and separating from people during hard experiences.
Many Teachers on Compassion
Lauren Muser Cates, an oncology massage therapist and educator, has some more passionate wisdom for us in her blog post, "Boundaries, Schmoundaries." She suggests that instead of putting up walls to try to keep ourselves "safe" and "protected," which can leave us feeling empty, we should work with staying open to others' experiences and ourselves. Lauren tells us that boundaries have their place in the practicalities of massage therapy — scope of practice, payment, set hours, and so on — but "When it comes to emotion and our essential humanness, boundaries, as they've been taught to us, are a myth."
Additional teachers came to me a couple of years ago, when I put together a series of webinars on hospital-based massage therapy (HBMT). I sought out several people who had HBMT programs in place for years, looking for their wisdom on program development, longevity, and the practicalities of making massage work in the hospital. In the process, I interviewed and recorded people from five HBMT programs: Paula Gardiner, MD; SatSiri Sumler, LMT; Carolyn Tague, LMT; Briane Pinkson, LMT; and Karen Armstrong, LMT, about their HBMT work.
When participants in the conference asked these people about the emotional impact of their work, a common theme emerged. The panelists spoke to the importance of some sort of contemplative practice — often yoga or meditation — in maintaining balance and resilience. Self-care was mentioned, of course, but with a particular emphasis on reflection and stillness. I heard their message loud and clear.
More recently, I have come to know the work of Joan Halifax, PhD, founder of the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe. She has worked and been present in end of life care for decades. She has shared important wisdom about compassion through her writing, speaking, and teaching.
In particular, I remember her stating once that true compassion can be enlivening, not draining. She, too, underscores the need for a contemplative practice, so that the mind can be resilient when challenged by pain and suffering. For those of us looking for "everyday compassion for everyday use," she has developed the "G.R.A.C.E." method of cultivating compassion.
These are some of the teachers I have encountered along the way of my own calling in oncology massage, but one more is worth mentioning: myself. I am glad to be able to count myself on my list of teachers. From meeting myself and listening closely, I become better able to be with my own feelings and vulnerability. Lived in more presence, my life is teaching me to feel whole in my own pain and suffering, and to be more present with the pain, suffering, and wholeness of others.
It's also teaching me how that wholeness looks in practice. In fact, in this very column, years ago, I shared my own list of self-care measures. Little has changed over the years on that practical little list. If you read that column and substitute "hula-hooping" for "skating" as my preferred physical outlet, plus add "meditation," the column will be entirely up-to-date for 2015.
Test Your Compassion Fatigue
Because wholeness comes with awareness, I am a fan of most anything that helps us ask the right questions. Once can test one's own compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, and burnout levels at many different websites, but one of my favorites is the Professional Quality of Life Scale at the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project.
The inherent emotional aspects of our profession, those same aspects that may have drawn us toward populations such as oncology massage, hospice and palliative work, can make things like boundaries, presence, and compassion a messy affair. There is rich wisdom to be learned in this messiness, if we choose to pay attention.