My Journey To Health, Doctors 101

Lucy-PsychToday I decided to write doctors 101, which I should probably apologize ahead of time to all my friends who are doctor for having the audacity to write this.

This is going to seem fairly simple to some of you, but for others it will help.  I have found a lot of confusion out there regarding the terms we are going to discuss.

First the MD.  MD stands for medical doctor.  A medical doctor is the one who takes care of you when you’re sick.  At this point in time I have 4 medical doctors.  The first one is my Primary Care Physician, otherwise known as a PCP.  In the past we would use the term family doctor, I have no idea why that changed.  Your PCP takes care of your general health.  A cold, the flu, and your regular aches and pains, blessed is the person who only ever sees a PCP.

We need to take a break hear now and add the PA or The Physician’s Assistant.  A PA can do the things a doctor can do only he does them under the immediate supervision of an MD.  In reality I am not sure how this works in the office.  I, however, see a PA and I have a high respect for him.  He treats me well and thinks of alternatives to regular meds which sometimes really help.

Next you have the specialists.  We are no longer in the days of the Wild West.  Where your town had one doctor and he helped you with your cold and set your broken leg.  After a certain level of treatment your PCP may advise you to see a specialist.  I have three, 1, a podiatrist for my feet, 2 a neurologist for my brain and 3 a psychiatrist for mental health issues.

Now let’s take a look at the PHD.  The PHD is a doctor of philosophy and as many as there are subjects under the sun you can have a PHD.  You can have a PHD in English, Math, Botany, Theology, Religion; Music the list is really endless.  I see one PHD and that is my Psychologist.

As mentioned above a Psychiatrist is an MD and he is.  A psychiatrist takes care of the medical side of emotional and mental illness.  He supplies the medications you may need such as anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds.  I have found that there are two types of Physiatrists.  The first you see for a very brief time, they quickly checks your meds against how you are feeling and alter them accordingly.  These psychiatrists are usually the ones you will find that are covered under your insurance.  The second talks to you for a longer period of time and then alters the meds.  These you will rarely find covered by insurance.

A psychologist is different as he does not provide you with medication but instead helps you with what is now popularly come to be known as Talk Therapy.  Talk Therapy is the type that you see depicted in cartoons where the patient is laying on a couch and the doctor is sitting there taking notes.  This differs from Peanuts where Lucy has a psychiatric both and she sits on one side and Charlie Brown sits on the other.  As Lucy only charges five cents I doubt this is much of an issue.

Talk Therapy, in reality. takes place in a pretty relaxing atmosphere.  There can be a couch present but mostly people sit up and talk.  Comfortable chairs are usually available though I can think of one instance where the office was pretty Zen oriented and had two chairs and wall hangings.

The PHD is going to set up his or her office according to their personal choices as well as the type of therapy that they do.  There are many types of talk therapy.  One where you do just talk and the PHD takes notes and listens rarely giving advice, but giving you the opportunity to figure stuff out on your own.

The other will be more active in the conversation and will challenge you while you are speaking as well as help you set goals.  This is the type of psychologist I see.  He was the doctor that had me come off sugar identifying it as an addiction.

Here is the key with all doctors, both MDs and PHDs.  YOU ARE THE BOSS.  If one of your docs isn’t treating you well, go to another.  This is especially true with the psychologist and psychiatrist.  The guy that fixes your leg can be an ass personality wise, but if he is an amazing surgeon, keep him.  You only deal with him for a short time.

With a psychologist or psychiatrist it is very different.  This becomes a real relationship in your life.  You have to like someone that you have to trust with all your deepest feelings and secrets.  Some will even allow a phone interview before you come in for an appointment just to see if the two of you are a good match.  This relationship may be very short term or long term, but you gotta like and trust the guy, if you don’t, or the relationship goes south, fire him or her.  It is your right to do so.

With talk therapy there are also therapists.  These mostly have master’s degrees.  My first experience was with a therapist and he was brilliant.  He gave me two pieces of advice that I now pass on to you.  The first, is a therapist is not a paid for friend.  You are there to accomplish something together then part company, this is not a person who you hang out with.  The second is, if your therapist and you decide that you are to do something, do it.  If you don’t or you don’t have a very good reason for not doing the work, you are wasting the therapist’s time and your time as well as your money.

One final thought.  Medical Doctors and Doctors of Philosophy work equally hard at earning their degrees.  They, as I understand, get there through different processes, but the time and energy spent are probably about equal.  I want to take a second to pause and salute those who have made this achievement in their lives.  Many of them gave as the benefits that we have today in the 21st century, and those that follow will play a key roll in building a better tomorrow.

The post My Journey To Health, Doctors 101 also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Romantics, Foodies, Athletes and More

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas
There’s still time to buy (or make!) your loved one a Valentine’s Day gift they will remember long after the chocolates are gone. Sure, a box of chocolates and flowers are always appreciated (especially roses and chocolate-covered anything), but step outside the box a little and show your Valentine how much they mean to you with a gift that’s unique and special for them.

For the romantic:

Candles, chocolates, flowers…you know the deal: Romantic women love the most traditional of Valentine’s Day gifts, but that also means you better not forget, and you better be romantic about it! Instead of waiting for a table at an expensive restaurant, go all out and have a romantic dinner for two at home. The more effort you put into it the better, so set the mood with candles, roses, and of course, a homemade dinner for two.

For the foodie:

Foodies are fun and easy to please – as long as it tastes good! If you’re talented, or even mediocre in the kitchen, whip up something that will amaze your Valentine’s taste buds and touch their heart with your effort. Whether it’s an exquisite three-course dinner or a simple dessert like cheesecake or creme brulee, it’ll be a Valentine’s Day your sweetheart won’t forget.

Afraid you’ll burn down the kitchen? Melt some chocolate in the microwave and start dipping! The higher quality the chocolate, the better it’ll taste, so forget Hershey’s and other 99 cent bars. Make homemade chocolate-covered strawberries, bananas, apricots, pretzels, or whatever you’re Valentine fancies. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

For the athlete:

Working out can get ugly, and that may pose a serious fashion faux pas for the most stylish of gym rats. Sure, you can always give her more sports bras, workout tees, and other not-so-sexy gifts, but unless you can find heart-print sports bras and socks, or go for an all pink ensemble, none of that is very Valentine’s Day appropriate. And let’s face it, it’s not always easy to pick out clothes for women.

Instead, go the tech route! Bring out her stylish side with some fashionable, yet functional ear buds! chicBuds Arts are the latest new fashion accessory for the music-loving, workout-obsessed fashionistas – and we absolutely love them! The cord is actually printed in either zebra, leopard or graffiti designs. And unlike regular earphone cords that wrap together to form a tangled mess, these feature no-mess flat cords. Perfect for working out without looking like a tangled, hot mess, and a gift that your fitness and/or music-loving Valentine will love.

Let’s not forget about the spa. A couples massage is a great idea for any couple on Valentine’s Day, but will be especially appreciated by an athlete. Strapped for cash? You know where we’re going with this…pull out the lotion or oils, light some candles, and go to work on your loved one’s over-worked bod.

For the sentimental:

Nothing will touch your sentimental sweetie more than a personalized gift. Have something engraved, whether it’s a jewelry box, wine glass, or even a custom phone case! You can create a case with a photograph of you and your significant other, displaying your love right where everyone can see it. So sweet!

Or go all out and start a scrapbook for your lady (or man!). It’s not as hard as you’d think – just go to a craft store and pick out the basics: a scrapbook and it’s accompanying paper, stickers, pens, etc. Then print out anywhere from 10-15 photographs, and you’re on your way to a beautiful, creative display of your love. What sentimental, romantic Valentine wouldn’t love that?

For the professional:

Initialed cuff links are a great gift for the business man in your life, as is a new briefcase, wallet, or even a nice watch – just stay away from the heart-printed ties and boxers.

For your guy, from the hot and camera-ready:

This may not be for the shy, timid, or body-conscious…but it’s definitely a gift that your man, and even you, will appreciate for years to come. Grab your VS lingerie and find the nearest “boudoir photography studio.” That’s right – take a professional, sexy picture for the man in your life. Women who have done this LOVE it, and say it makes them feel more confident and sexy than ever before, and even see themselves in a whole new light. “I never knew I could look like that,” says one woman.  Some professional photographers will even do house calls, so you can feel better about posing in the comfort of your own home. Give it a try!

The post Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Romantics, Foodies, Athletes and More also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

My Journey to Health, Short and Sweet

wishes-nighttime-spectaculaToday’s column will be short…and sweet.  It hasn’t been a good day and I hope to be asleep as early as possible.

Today I went into one of the worst depressive battles of my life.  It didn’t last long but it hurt a lot.

I got up at 6:30 and walked the dog.  I knew I was dropping within the hour and by 8:30 all I could do was lie on my bed and stair ahead feeling nothing much more than emotional pain that came from nowhere.

Around 9:30 my father came in the room and told me some news that I was not ready to hear.  It wasn’t bad news at all, but it was upsetting for me.  I put on a face, encouraged him, and as soon as he was gone the tears started to come.  Now I was depressed and dealing with a legitimate emotion at the same time.

The tears and pain continued throughout the day.  I contacted my small group leader and he encouraged me as best he could.  I was relieved someone knew what was happening.  Not long after I sent out a group e-mail asking for prayer and some folks got back to me quickly support doesn’t take it away but it makes it a bit easier to bear.

At 3:00 I called my psychiatrist.  By that time I could not form sentences, I was stuttering and crying at the same time.  I didn’t know what else to do and was getting ready to take myself to the hospital or find someone who could take me.  I tried to write this column but what came out of me was not worth reading.

Around four o’clock I “officially” went to bed.  If I slept there would be no pain, I had slept well the night before so I wasn’t sure I would sleep at all.  But I did.  At 6:30 the phone rang and I answered it.  It was a friend calling to see how I was.  I told him about the day, but I began to realize something was different.  I didn’t want to say anything.  I didn’t trust it.  I hung up and realized I was really me again.  Emotionally I was working well.

And so it is now.

This was a battle and a win, a new win at that.  Never had I had this type of depression lasted this short a time.  Never would this column have been written before.  The only real difference was that I reached out to many people who on my behalf prayed for me.  Believe when I tell you it was not something I could do for myself.

One more thing, something I want to reiterate every chance I get.  If you ever feel like you are going to harm yourself or others GO TO THE HOSPITAL!  I don’t want anyone who reads these columns to ever find themselves in a place where they won’t go.  I want you alive.  So do many others, even at the times you can’t believe that in any way.

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My Journey to Health, Maple, A Question and an Update

sugarmaple_treeI love maple syrup.  Not the Mrs. Butterworth pancake syrup, but real straight from the tree maple syrup.  It just tastes better than the others and there is more that you can do with it and it is better for you.  The reason I say this is because I did some shopping today at my local market and in the health food section they had a new drink, Maple Water.

There was no question I would buy this.  I didn’t want to as 12 ounces was 2.99 and that is expensive, but I found it again in the already chilled section and the compulsive part of me won.

Maple Water is the maple tree sap not boiled down for syrup.  When maple syrup is made the trees are tapped with a little spigot and the sap from the trees drips into buckets when the buckets are full they are brought to what I believe is called a sugar house.  There it is boiled down into the syrup you find in the market.  So Maple Water skips the boiling down part and is bottled and sold.  And it’s really good.

I have one small issue and that is the cost.  Since the Maple Water skips the boiling down step and goes right to market it should cost less, but it costs more.  I guess this is the American way.  However if they made the cost less I would buy more, but for now it will be an occasional treat.

In the last column I wrote about exactly what I was going through during a depressive episode.  It did pass yesterday, but unfortunately I can feel it trying to come back while I type.  It may stay where it is and it may get worse or better, I never know.

One question that was asked in the comment section below the last column was, “where was God in all of this?”  I am a Christian so I believe in God and Jesus, but to answer the question, I don’t know.  God seems to disappear when I get in to deep depression.  Mentally I know he’s is there but emotionally he is not.  I pray and ask for help but those prayers seem to bounce off the wall.  I believe, however, that this is why God has placed us in community.

Community is not your town, though it can be, it is more the place that you feel you belong.  The Amish understand community, they help each other out.  A barn needs to be built the whole town goes and builds it.  In our world though we then to have look hard for community, it does not come naturally in our culture, but it should.

I think when you are ill mentally emotionally or physically ill you have to be able to rely on the community around you to help you.  If you belong to a church, ideally this should be your community, the people you can rely on to help to get you through the hard times whatever they may be, and they can rely on you also.  Community is never a one way street; it goes back and forth from every door of the people that belong to it.

I think that is where God should be when I am in a depressive episode, it does not always work out that way, which is why, if you have read my previous columns, you will see me asking emotionally healthy people to reach out to those that are not emotionally healthy on a regular basis.  They need, OK, we need your help.  God dwells in His people and that is where God has to be when I am in a dark place.

Now for a quick update.  Yesterday was the one month anniversary of going off sugar.  Because of the multiple issues with my feet and leg I have not been able to exercise much. I never really described the feet/leg issues.  Both of my feet have no feeling in them at all on the bottom.  The tops are not as bad but are still numb.  My right leg goes completely numb when I stand for more than a half an hour.  After walking for about a half an hour both of my feet swell up, and before you ask, no I am not diabetic, and yes my sugars are checked regularly

I went to see the neurologist that has been following me yesterday.  He is working with my feet and leg as well as my hands, which have slight to violent tremors.  I am scheduled for a second EMG this coming Monday to find out what can be done about my feet and leg.  An EMG was done about a year ago but the results were not conclusive.  The tremors are treated with medication but it does not work all of the time.

While at the Doctors I was weighed.  As you may remember my weight at the beginning of this journey was somewhere between 370 and 390, yesterday I was 360.  So going sugarless has made a difference.  Physically I, in general, feel better.  My mind is certainly clearer now.  So, on the whole I am better than when we started.

The post My Journey to Health, Maple, A Question and an Update also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

My Journey To Health, Full on Depression

male-depressionFull on depression sucks.

Day one.

I am making the effort to wrote to you today during an almost full on depression episode.  I am also dropping, so how long this is will be is a matter of how long I can type.

Right now I am on the verge of tears and tearing someone apart.  I am extremely sleepy for no reason and the day has all in all been good.  There was nothing to start this downward spiral.

I can’t call anyone.  People already know I’m sick.  They don’t reach out to me so how can I believe they want to hear from me.  I am fat useless and a waste of breath on this planet and everyone would be better if I wasn’t on it.

I don’t want to continue the journey.  I don’t want to give up sugar.  I like sugar.  Sugar is the only real friend I have.  There are small pies available at Giant, right now, I can eat ten of those.  Why am I trying so hard?  It will never work.

People say they love me but they don’t mean it.  More than anything I want my phone to ring and it won’t, because no one knows I exist.

Maybe I should go to the hospital.  But I have been there.  It’s awful.  The beds literally collapse on you.  You aren’t in a ward with just depressed people, you are in a ward full of all kinds of mentally ill individuals and sometimes they don’t stop screaming.  They push pills at you, but I honestly don’t want pills, I just want someone to listen to me.

I don’t know why I am like this.  I hate myself and I am an embarrassment to my family.  I’m 54 I can’t work, because if I get the least bit of criticism these feelings happen or I have a worse breakdown.  As soon as I start I know they want to fire me,  Now I pee myself with regularity because of meds and I poop myself because of a generic thing that I cannot control.  Who would put with someone having to go home everyday.

I wish I were dead.  I really do.  Life is just too damn hard and the burden too heavy.  No one cares at all.  I will always be alone.  I will always be alone.

Day Two

I am still in a bad place though I feel more numb with hopeless thrown in.  I went to church but I had to force myself out of bed and go very unwillingly.  It was good to see people but it hurt as well.

I’m tired, very tired.  I shouldn’t be I slept well.  But all I want to do is sleep.  There is anger burning underneath everything right now.  It’s under control but it doesn’t he;p knowing that I really want to burst out.

People need to stay away or if they come near there is every chance I will take a bight out of them.  I want to fight something but there is nothing to fight.  It’s not like it was yesterday, but it is very bad, maybe worse because it’s boiling under the surface and if I let it go, I will hurt people.

I know this column reads more like a journal entry.  I didn’t want to give you facts or ideas, I wanted to give you experience while it is happening.  I seriously, right now, do not know what the end of this story will be.  If you want to hear about when this passes leave a comment in the space below.  I won’t write about it otherwise.  This could take a week or more to end.  That is really the hard part, never knowing when it will end or worse yet what shape it will take tomorrow if it doesn’t end.

(This was written during an attack of a full on depressive episode and the following day.  This is as far as I could write.  I wrote this so you can see what is in the mind of at least some depressed people.  The loneliness hurts the worst.  Don’t let your friends go through this if you can help.  Help.  Just a hug can help)

The post My Journey To Health, Full on Depression also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

My Journey To Health, Inspiration

sunrise-(1)(PCM) Inspiration!  In a journey to health we must have help along the way, something outside of ourselves that keeps us going toward the goal.  I would use the word inspire to describe this need.

To inspire means to stir up the emotions and animate the mind.  Inspiration is a tool that we can put to use to help us get to the goal of a healthy life.  It is important to take a moment and describe what I mean by a healthy life.  It is a healthy mind, body and spirit and if even one of these is not running well the rest are also thrown off.

There are all kinds of health issues these days.  Addiction, depression, obesity, cancer, mental and emotional issues, diseases and viruses, a total lack of a spiritual life, all of these, and many more, are our enemies in becoming healthy.

What can be used to inspire us to move forward in our personal battles?  Let me tell you about my own inspirations and maybe they will help define yours.  Remember too that inspiration can come from anywhere so don’t limit yourself to what I write about here.

The first and foremost inspiration is God.  God is my father and he wants the best for me, even if he and I don’t see eye to eye on that all of the time.  Mother Theresa once said that (and I am paraphrasing) “Jesus was her husband and they argue a lot.”  The church itself is the bride of Christ so Jesus in the husband to all Christians and I don’t know of any that don’t, every once in a while, have angry moments with God.

But that doesn’t mean there is no inspiration here.  Psalm 23 says “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and you are with me.”  The valley of the shadow of death is not death itself, it is the feeling of death when you desperately want donuts or you want the substance that you have been using for years but you know you can’t use any longer.  Your whole body is yelling “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!” But you say NO!.  And God is with you comforting you and encouraging you to move forward.  This is inspiration.

Inspiration also comes from the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus.  Jesus being fully man chose to die a humiliating death for me.  If he can die for me, literally die.  Can’t I stop putting bad things in my mouth so I can live?

Then there are people that inspire me.  I have a new friend whose name is Steve.  He is a vegan, and I don’t want to go that far, at least not now.  But in his life I can see what can be done, that the changes can be made.  That eating right doesn’t have to be a burden.  I am very grateful for that.  Someone who lives it can inspire us to live it too.

My small group leader, Caleb, has shown me through example that you can live free.  I am still grasping the meaning of that, but I am learning to see the things of life much less of a burden in fact I am learning that there are burdens I don’t have to carry that have been laid on me by others.  But Caleb doesn’t just talk it.  You see it in his life.

I am inspired by my editor Joe, who keeps going no matter how hard things get and has patience with me when I just can’t figure out how to run a computer correctly.  He praises when deserved and gently corrects when needed.  Because of the way he is I want to do better.

Art in many forms inspires me.  Frodo Baggins, from The Lord of the Rings, the smallest creature in his world takes a dangerous weapon into enemy territory and destroys it.  Sam Gamgee, Frodo’s friend, when Frodo is too weak to carry the burden alone, picks Frodo up and carries him.  Frodo destroyed the ring of power, can’t I destroy the fat of death.  Sam carried his friend; can’t I carry my friends when they need help?

Music can be inspirational.  When I am really down, if I remember, you will find me singing My Favorite Things, from the Sound of Music.  The lyrics and music that comprise the song bring bright pictures in to my mind and help to battle sadness.

The Theme from Chariots of Fire, is exhilarating to me,  I Gotta Crow from Peter Pan is motivational for me and Look To The Rainbow from Finian’s Rainbow is a song that brings hope for a good ending.  And Somewhere Over The Rainbow is always a reminder that no matter how bad or hard things get there is a real better place waiting for me.

I am inspired to joy when I see Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I am encouraged by Snoopy in Peanuts, I know that good health and good attitudes can be won if we work hard when I read The Secret Garden.

These are things that I find inspirational.  They may not be what you find inspirational.  But look for those things.  Hold on to them.  Go to them (people) look at them, read them or listen to them when you feel like giving up.  You will find the strength to go forward.  Don’t give up.  Not ever.  You and I are walking this path together.  You can do it.

Below this article there is a section for making comments.  Some people have a hard time finding something to inspire them.  Please take a moment and write what you find inspiring.  What get’s you thru the day or helps to renew your energy to reach your goals.  If you wish tell your story.  What you faced or are facing, and what kept or keeps you going.  And please have mercy and don’t tell me it’s a dozen donuts and Death by Chocolate that gets you through.  Who knows, your words may help someone else.

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