Writing and Healing-Reflections
Putting your deepest feelings on paper or into a journal can be a journey into your own soul and a tool for self-discovery and inner peace. There are also some surprising health benefits. There is research that shows that writing what you feel may be a boost to the immune system and help prevent illness. James W. Pennebaker, a psychology professor, did a study where he asked people from all walks of life-prisoners to medical students to write about traumatic events in their life. The control group was asked to write superficial events of their life. The group that wrote the traumatic events had fewer doctor visits and showed a boosted immune response to hepatitis B Vaccine and the Epstein Barr virus. (Important – it seemed the writers used negative response words in the beginning and showed new incites about the incident by the end).
Another study was done at State University in New York, where 51 people with rheumatoid arthritis were either asked to be part of a group that wrote about traumatic events or a group that wrote about neutral events and again the group that wrote about the traumatic events reported less stiffness, swelling, pain, and fatigue than the group that wrote about neutral events. All of this is showing that in fact, writing your deepest feelings is every good for your health.
I started keeping a daily journal in 1985. My first journals were written on 3×5 cards. Eventually, I kept my journals in actual notebooks, and today, I have two bookshelves full of the writing I have done to record my life. Some days are simply – that -simple-what I did with my kids, how I felt, where I ate, traveled, etc. Other days the writing is deep-maybe a poem or reflections from a book I’m reading or feelings I would not necessarily want the world to read. Sometimes I think, “Who is that crazy person? Me!”
One of my goals is to go back and read my journals. I have begun the process, and it’s sometimes fun to look back and think about those early years as a Mom and an older college student pursuing a degree. Sometimes it’s hard to see how serious I was taking life and how many moments I missed worrying too much about things that today seem trivial. It will also be hard to review a time when my spiritual journey took me away from those day to day moments-maybe too much. Eventually, I had to come back to the middle way.
But regardless of how it feels to go back and self-reflect, I have always found the journaling process to be healing and an excellent tool for gaining inner peace. My journals are often my best friend.
My journal goes with me wherever I go as much as possible. There are days that I don’t take the time to journal, but I always go back to those days and add reflections on what I did or how I felt that day. Lately, I enjoy taping my daily newspaper horoscope in my journal and then write about what that could mean to me.
When I travel, I love to journal the sights, sounds, experiences, food, and people from my trips. At the beginning of the summer, we toured Eastern Europe with our Rabbi and Members of our Synagogue. This trip was structured around the history of Jews before, during, and after WWII. There were both painful and joyful moments filled with reminders of the Holocaust and the effects of the War in Eastern Europe and the Renewal of Jewish life today. I was the only one with a journal in my hands throughout the trip. I am currently transcribing those journals and my reflections and hope to include some of the 2500 photos I took while there. I plan to share some of this writing with you.
If you have ever thought of journaling, it is never too late to start. Just get yourself a notebook or writing journal and a good pen and start writing. Write as if no one will ever see it. It is your private conversation with yourself or a dear friend as in Dear Diary.
There are no rules for journaling. Do it your way-the way that feels most comfortable for you.
Here are a few tips to get started.
Choose your writing tools. The sky is the limit. You can use binders, notebooks, decorative journals, or even 3X5 cards.
Find a quiet place and time for writing. I can journal anywhere-at home, in restaurants, on airplanes, or doctor’s offices. But it is really comforting to journal with a cup of tea or glass of wine. Light a candle for an even sweeter effect.
Let go of obstacles that get in the way. If you are worried about someone reading your journal, find a private place to keep them-your secret place. You can even buy lock and key diaries, but they are bulky. A journal is for you. They can also be used if you are writing a memoir or autobiography and wish to share some of your story with others.
Let go of your inner critic. Most important is to let go of an inner critic and editor. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation. Just write. Later if you want to share your story, you can worry about editing.
Use prompts to get you started and keep you going. As I said, I sometimes cut out my daily horoscope as a prompt for writing about my day or life.
Write the good, the bad, the ugly. Write when you’re happy and when you’re sad. Write when your grateful. Get it all out in your journals. Just Write.
I love to travel, but until my suitcase is packed, I have a hard time getting excited. So I have come up with a plan for packing that keeps the joy in the upcoming journey.
Make a List–I use a master list that I bought as a pad of packing sheets. This sheet guides me prior to packing and also stays in my suitcase when I am packing from my destination to go home. Here is an image.
At the top of my list I write where I am going, how long and the expected weather outlook. Knowing your destination climate is so important so that you pack clothes that will keep you comfortable. Also you can prepare for cold evenings or rainy days where you need an umbrella etc.
Give yourself lots of time. I begin packing at least a week ahead of time. Sometimes I have my suitcase open and ready for clothes two weeks ahead of time. That way I have time to change my mind about my vacation wardrobe.
Carry On – As much as possible avoid having to check a bag. There are many ways to keep the size of your packing to a minimum. For one thing, roll your clothes instead of folding. This allows you to fit clothes in corners of the suitcase and use every bit of room in your bag. You can take two bags. One can be your carry on size suitcase-be careful to keep it within the parameters designated by the airline. Make your other bag an expandable shopping bag. For women you can put your purse inside this bag. You can also put a brief case inside a larger shopping bag.
“He who would travel happily must travel light.” -Antoine de St. Exupery
Soft Shoes-My favorite travel shoes are Mary Jane looking flats. I have both Keens and recently bought a pair of Campers flats. I can walk miles in these shoes and they pack without taking much room in your suitcase. You can wear a bulkier pair of comfy shoes or boots to the airport. Other comfy flexible shoes that pack well are Toms. I also pack a comfortable pear of walking sandals.
Color coordinate-pack light. Pick a color and coordinate around it so that you can mix and match outfits. I also pack with layers. Vests, skirts, and leggings take up little room but are very versatile wardrobe pieces that can help you interchange outfits.
Chargers and Electronics Accessories–If you are like most people, you will be taking your cell phone and possibly a camera. Chargers are very important. I keep a small accessory bag for electronic chargers and accessories. If you go to a country outside the United States you will need electric outlet adapters. We have a kit that has a variety of adapters for a variety of countries.
Download tourist books-We went to Paris this fall and I really wanted to take several tourist guides. Some of them were small books that could easily be packed, but one that I thought would be especially useful was Rick Steve’s Paris. This book is over 3000 pages. Not a practical pack on. I purchased the book on I-books and it was downloaded to my I-phone and I-Pad. Voila-Rick could go with us easily as we traversed the streets and museums of Paris.
Prepack toiletries– Have two of everything so you can have most of your toiletries in your suitcase ready to go. Travel size toothpaste, hair gel, and moisturizer, packed with a new toothbrush. That way you don’t have to throw in toiletries at the last minute.
Medication and Supplements are trickier. What I do is sort my vitamins and put enough in a container for the days I will be gone. If you take daily medication, do the same. Pack enough of your daily meds for the days you will be away. Also have a copy of your prescription, in case you run out of medication or lose some pills.
I take Metamucil every day and while I was on a vacation in Germany, I dropped my whole container of Metamucil on the bathroom floor of the bed and breakfast. Trying to find Metamucil or the equivalent in Germany was tough. Finally I did find psyllium powder in a German pharmacia, so my recommendation is to take extra.
Glasses. Make sure you have both your regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses.
Travel documents –make copies of all your important documents and leave a copy with someone back home. Pack a copy.
Plastic bags-Put extra bags in your suitcase. I pack both quart size and travel size zip lock bags. You can use these bags for snacks, packed liquids, and the bigger bags are good for shoes, and for smaller dirty items.
Umbrella–Always pack a compact size umbrella. This way the weather will not get in the way of your plans
Returning Home and Unpacking-Take your time
When the vacation is over, it can be depressing to unpack. Don’t rush. Give yourself time to unpack and wash and put away your clothes. If you plan to travel again soon, start thinking of what you need for your next trip and start your list.
So often we look outside ourselves to find out who we truly are on the inside. We look for gurus, models, mentors, more experienced or more self-confident people who have more guts than we do to tell us what we need to do to get life right. Oprah Winfrey, Eckart Tolle, Wayne Dyer, and other popular gurus are put on pedestals, and yet, they are simply people who have stopped asking for permission to be who they are and now use their power to influence our decisions on how to live.
I do this a lot. I keep looking for the right book to tell me how to go forward-what to do next-how to tell my story. I recently spoke with a book editor/publisher who said-“stop listening to everyone else. You have a story. Only you will know how to tell it.”
Spell the word guru, and you have Gee You Are You. The greatest gurus point you back to yourself. Although there are billions of people, there is only one you and yet we are all connected. Sometimes it is helpful to seek advice or ask for guidance along the journey, because of this connectedness we sometimes need an outside opinion. But then it is important to do an inner check and see if it fits for us. Eventually, you have to listen to your inner voice. That’s the key.
I used to teach this in my yoga classes. I never wanted to be looked at as a guru or all-wise teacher. I taught what I wanted to learn-what I needed to hear. I had followed someone as my guru, and it almost took me took me away from the life I think ( I hope) – do you hear the self-doubt?) I was meant to lead.
Authenticity is hard to find when there are so many of us influenced by outside sources. I loved a little cartoon I saw recently where the first cell is beginning to divide, and now there are almost two and the one nucleus, the center of the cell, says to the other – It’s not you. It’s me. Who is it then? Is it Oprah or you? Is it you or your guru? Who are you? Pretend for a moment that there is no guide. There is no Oprah. There is no role model. There is no textbook. There is no Bible. There is nothing but you left to guide you.
This is a scary thought but also one that can free you to be yourself. I think we all have an inner Jiminy Cricket or Holy Spirit that guides us. We just need to make room for quiet time, whether it’s meditation, yoga, or simply sitting on a bench in the park. Then listen to what your inner voice is telling you.
Do you have the inner intelligence to move forward and know what to do next? What would you do if the world were up to you? What would you do if no one could tell you what to do? Who are you all by yourself? What would happen if we believed in ourselves and simply followed our hearts and our inner guide?
I feel like I am at a precipice. I am almost ready to tell you my story.
The problem is we don’t know how to listen or who to listen to anymore? I imagine myself waking up and just listening to my own voice and yet I am so full of everyone else’s thoughts and all the books and magazines and helpful hints I read.
I am listening and slowly finding my own voice. The hints I write for you come from my own life and experience.
Why can’t I just think of that or this? Why do I need someone else to tell me something that is right in front of my face?
And so it is with you-take the hints but see what fits in your life. Who are you and who are you meant to be?
It’s self-doubt. We grow up not believing in our own personal power. Our parents often tell us how to be, what to believe in and how to behave. As children, we look to them for advice and approval. We are human beings after all, and we need others to confirm who we are. We look at others for approval.
It is difficult to finally grow up and get in touch with the decision maker in you. I grew up very different than the way my own life has evolved. I hardly could tell my children how to to be or what to believe in. I was growing up with them. I had lost my parent’s approval long ago. As years went on I think they respected my inner growth.
As we grow up we continue to seek advice from books and approval from others. There comes a time when you need to stop reading, seeking, and asking and start believing in your own inner wisdom.
I teach what I want to learn.
You have the power to simply Be YOURSELF!
And so I hope you enjoy the me that shares more and more of my deeper self and story.
DON’T FORGET TO LAUGH
Laughter is a release, a bonding agent, a prescription for health, a weapon and more. When someone laughs at your jokes today-not a polite laugh but an honest-to-goodness “I get you” laugh — it feels like love. (From my daily horoscope)
When was the last time you had a real belly laugh? A laugh where tears are rolling down your face, and your whole body is moving. In that moment you forgot everything around you. This is very healing-very important.
The average adult laughs 17 times a day. Humans are one of the only species that laughs. Have you ever seen your cat or dog laugh? They kind of just look at you like your nuts or maybe wag their tail.
Laughter is the best medicine!! While you’re at the pharmacy picking up your $ 500 worth of drugs or while you’re at the health food store buying mega dollar’s worth of supplements pick up a bottle of humor. At the end of my mother-in-law’s life when she was very sick, her doctor wrote on a prescription pad-Laugh!
The study of laughter is called gelotology. It is actually a science.
What really makes us laugh? There are a number of theories about laughter.
Incongruity theory – Jokes- We anticipate the end, which usually is something stupid, or something illogical –doesn’t fit-or fits in an abnormal way –it’s just funny. Hits us as funny. A good joke can be very clean. Knock knock jokes etc.
Superiority theory– laughing at the expense of someone else or someone’s culture etc. Not really helpful and can just be a cover up for prejudice and anger – not healthy.
Relief theory- Jokes in the middle of tension – just need a humor break in the middle of stressful situations.
Tickling – but you can’t tickle yourself because tickling needs tension and surprise.
Laughter is the rhythmic, vocalized, expiratory, and involuntary response of the body. When someone tells a joke, you need the left brain to analyze the joke, the frontal lobe activates (social emotional response), the right brain helps you “get” the joke, the back of the brain sends nerve signals that make you react.
Damage to any of these areas can prevent someone from having a “sense of humor”.
When you laugh, many things are happening in your body. 15 facial muscles contract. The respiratory system is upset enough to make you gasp. If you laugh hard enough the tear ducts are activated. The mouth opens and closes so you get enough oxygen. The face becomes red and moist from increased circulation. We create all kinds of noises – some dainty and some very loud.
There are two types of sound in laughter – ha ha ha or ho ho ho or both. Laughter Yoga uses these sounds while teaching deep breathing and laughter. It’s wonderfully healing:)
Laughter is contagious.
John Morreal, a philosopher believes that the first time humans laughed was after danger passed and they shared the relief-like wow! That was a close one! Ha ha ha.
It is something we share with others and usually you laugh with others when you trust them and feel like you belong. People are 30 times more likely to laugh in a social setting than when alone.
I was at the book store one day and was reading a book. Across from me was a young woman reading a book and every few pages would burst out laughing as if nobody was around. She made me laugh!! It’s like The Wonky Donkey video -a grandma having the best laugh as she reads the book to her grandson.
We laugh at different things at different ages and get jokes more as we mature.
We laugh at the things that stress us out!
We may not laugh if we don’t get the joke or we don’t find the joke funny or if we just lack a sense of humor.
If the boss laughs you can laugh or if the one in power laughs it is okay to laugh – tribal.
Laughter is sometimes used to cover up anger or sadness or fear. Nervous laughter!! There is laughter in those tears or tears in the laughter. Helps to release emotions. That is why funny movies or comedy clubs are so popular.
There is scientific research that shows that humor reduces stress, increases your ability to tolerate pain or even to forget about chronic pain, and boosts your immune system
In the book, The Anatomy of an Illness , Norman Cousins describes how he healed from his chronic illness by watching funny movies and television skits. Carl Jung believed that all Illness is mental illness and all mental illness is a spiritual disconnection.
Don’t take things so seriously. Anything we take seriously can be made fun of!!!
Laughter decreases stress and stress hormones that cause disease. Increases killer cells that kill cancer and viruses. Can clear the respiratory tract by causing coughing or hiccupping
Laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on a rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Lowers blood pressure. Increases vascular flow. Assists in healing.
And when there is no chance of avoiding the end of life, live in the moment. I can remember when my Mom had pancreatic cancer. She was dying but still managed to laugh. We kept her alive with humor, chocolate, high fiber Vitamix smoothies, and a powerful use of denial. We laughed a lot and also shared tears together.
The world is a crazy place. Not one of us will ever be able to figure it all out. We cannot possibly judge because we are limited humans and lack all the facts. All we can do is watch ourselves play our parts in the movie. Grab some popcorn and raisinets and laugh. You would not tear apart the movie screen so don’t take your life so serious. Sit back and observe yourself and your relationship with others.
Figure out what makes you laugh and do it! Read funny books or watch funny movies.
Surround yourself with funny people. Don’t waste your time worrying.
Develop your sense of humor. Be funny. Coco Chanel said – You only have one life to live you might as well be amusing.
Have fun!! Enjoy!! What is preventing you from laughing right now? Whatever it is……
It’s all a silly mad Idea don’t forget to laugh!!!! (A Course in Miracles)
Hiking in Arizona
Looking over Hoover Dam at the Nevada Border
Looking Out from our Cruise
Beautiful and Peaceful Meditation site at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe New Mexico
Steve and Me in Vancouver
Group photon at the Natalie Goldberg Memoir Writing retreat
It’s a snow day here in Mason, Ohio. I love snow days when I have nowhere to go-just the time to catch up around the house, make final travel arrangements and sit here and blog to my readers. I hope you all had a great holiday. Here is our New Year’s letter that I send out in cards. Hope you enjoy it!!
As I reflect on our year, I want to thank you for your cards, letters, and photos. We enjoy hearing from friends and family. Hope your holidays were wonderful.
This was our second full year of retirement, and it has been a joy to be able to sleep in, travel, have time with our kids and grandkids, and all the things we do together and separately.
Steve continues to attend his weekly prayer group (minyan) and the Synagogue. I continue to write and teach my monthly Course in Miracles group. Steve also enjoys working out both physically and socially;) I enjoy taking long walks especially in Sharon Woods with friends. We enjoy watching our shows on Netflix (Breaking Bad, Ozark, and for fun The Marvelous Mrs. Meisel and The Kaminsky Method). Most of all we enjoy our travels-visiting family and friends around the globe. Time is always a commodity but when not in the routine of going to work every day, moments become even more precious, and life’s experiences can be savored.
Some of our most precious moments have been visiting my Godmother Helen and our 100-year-old frien
d Evvy -both in nursing homes. Sadly, Helen died in March, but the memory of our time together while she lived near us will remain.
This year we traveled to Los Angeles in January for a wedding and to visit friends, then to Chicago to babysit our Granddog Jax, while Marcie went with friends to Cancun, Mexico. In February we were in Phoenix for a Bat Mitzvah, and to spend time with a cousin and friends. In March during Spring break, our family embarked on a Caribbean Cruise where in Cozumel, the kids swam with the dolphins, and we explored the shops together.
Following the cruise, we visited Steve’s Aunt Peppy and some old friends in Boca Raton, then drove to Cape Coral to stay with very close friends but unfortunately, all the travel was too much, and Steve was diagnosed with Influenza B the day after we arrived. Thank goodness these friends are like family and made us feel at home – the four of us spent
ten days on Tamiflu and a week of convalescence. I was the only one who did not get the flu. Luckily, they have a beautiful home on the water with lots of separated living space, so we were able to be with each other in a healing environment.
In May, I attended a Natalie Goldberg memoir writing retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Natalie is a practicing Buddhist and the author of Writing Down the Bones and several other books. I enjoyed daily meditation and writing while embracing the sunshine and warmth of Santa Fe.
Later in May, our family all attended our great niece’s Bat Mitsvah in the DC area. Hannah did a great job, and we enjoyed all the festivities of the weekend.
In August our youngest daughter Marcie and I traveled to London and Amsterdam, where we celebrated her 36th birthday. We loved walking London and visiting the many regal sites as well as the Churchill War Rooms, St. Paul’s Cathedral and more. While in London, we got theater tickets to The Book of Mormon, which we both enjoyed. Amsterdam was delightful. We visited the Anne Frank House after taking a guided tour of her neighborhood, which I would highly recommend. We also went to the Van Gogh Museum and enjoyed our hotel with its evening wine and cheese, and a room with floor to ceiling windows we could open to the air of the street and canal views below.
We took another trip to Chicago in September to celebrate my sister’s 60th birthday. She had a great party and being with family is always wonderful.
In October Steve and I took a memorable trip to the Pacific Northwest where we enjoyed our niece in Eugene, Oregon, a Dental buddy of Steve in Portland and a niece in Seattle. We also took the Amtrak train fro
m Seattle and went north to Vancouver, British Columbia where we spent time with our great niece who is a student at UBC and enjoyed the essence of this part of the world. Our Air BnB was across from the water with views of downtown and Stanley Park. While away, we ordered an organic bed in Seattle-so comfy.
Our Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and New Years holidays were spent here in Cincinnati. Our nephew and niece from Washington DC joined us for Thanksgiving this year which made that holiday extra special-lots to be grateful for.
Love to all and Happy 2019
Mary and Steve
Florida Artist Rita Schwab is holding her beautiful glass mosaic that reflects journey, path, heart 🙂
This is a long post with a long story that begins with just a catch up on our travels including our experience with the flu, and then my cardiology journey and resistance to doctor’s orders. If you have ever felt you and your doctor were not communicating-read this post. Enjoy!!
This year we have done a lot of traveling-California in January, Nevada and Arizona in February, Florida in March and early April, and in May I went on a wonderful and writer changing retreat in beautiful and peaceful Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each of these trips have their own story and lots more to share.
It’s been both fun and exhausting and Steve has set his own boundaries around travel. “I can’t unpack and repack a suitcase without an at home for a while break. “It’s too much!” I, on the other hand have a hard time saying no to life and opportunities to travel, explore and experience everything. Steve reached his limit when after completing a delightful family Caribbean cruise, we embarked for a 10-day vacation to be with friends in Cape Coral, Florida and the second day there he was diagnosed with Influenza B. Poor Steve. For the first week of that trip he was either outside on their beautiful lanai or in the house wearing a mask. Although our friends were wonderful, “like family”, and we did enjoy many great conversations in between rest time, this did take a toll on all of us. Our dear friends hung in there with us and we all went on Tamiflu. I was the only one who did not have at least a day of the flu.
At the Urgent Care, it was noted that my blood pressure had climbed to 160/90 — yikes! I was stressed. I managed my stress by writing daily out in the Tiki Hut down on their deck and canal landing. It is a beautiful and serene place to reflect and write. Some days I would just rest in the hammock or sit and meditate and listen to the many sounds of nature. It helped that the weather was beautiful. I also enjoyed an evening glass of wine, which I noticed did lower my blood pressure. Toward the end of our stay we were able to go out and enjoy the last few days of our trip. One of our outings was an art fair in Cape Coral where I met and photographed the artist, Rita Schwab and her glass piece used with her permission as my photo for this post.
By the time we got home and to our own beds, Steve was exhausted and I was concerned about my heart. I purchased a new OMRON B/P monitor and made an appt with a cardiologist.I continued to monitor my blood pressure and it varied-sometimes high and other times normal. I really focused on my breathing and although I did not sit in formal meditation every day, I attempted to stay mindful of my thoughts and pace of living.
As I sat in the cardiologist’s waiting room, I felt a bit out of place. The room was filled with elderly people, some in wheelchairs, and the younger patients were very overweight. I “pride” myself in being as healthy as I can “the middle way” through exercise, a plant-based diet, and meditation, yet here I was. I have to admit I have a strong family history of heart disease—Mom, Dad, and siblings. But I thought I was different and was on top of controlling the risk factors, at least that’s what I thought. Yet now I realize how hard it is to control the biggest risk factor-underlying tension and anxiety.
My cholesterol is high but so is my good cholesterol. I used to smoke but quit 36 years ago, and I have not been overweight since nursing school. Why was I there? My primary care physician was okay with me going although he has never seen my blood pressure over 120/70. He takes my blood pressure every time I see him, and he carefully monitors my lipid profile every year.
Long story short, the cardiologist was not quick to put me on any medication (I liked that!) until I had some tests to determine if I, indeed, showed signs of heart disease. He ordered an echocardiogram and coronary calcium scan (CAT Scan of the heart and its major blood vessels). I was game. The heart scan took about 20 minutes and the echocardiogram took almost an hour.
The next day I got a call from the nurse who gave me the results of my tests—the echo was normal and the heart scan showed minimal heart disease, better than most for my age so the doctor would like me to take a daily 81 mg of Aspirin and 40 mg of Lipitor. Noooooooooooooo.You would have thought she told me the doctor wanted to do open heart surgery. I totally reacted with surprise, anger, sadness, and disappointment and asked that she have the doctor call me.
He did, and it did not go well. The American College of Cardiology recommends the aspirin and Lipitor for a patient picture like mine. Actually there are many cardiologists that feel we should all be on a statin. But that’s it! This doctor really does not know me and I am not a typical patient. I had only seen him one time, and we need to go beyond one size fits all medicine. My primary care physician is an MD with years of alternative medicine experience and for over 25 years has followed my health and prescribed the daily supplements I take. I take no prescription medicine and don’t want to start. On the other hand, I also don’t want to have a heart attack or stroke and would welcome a plan to prevent further heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.
When the cardiologist called, I let him know how disappointed I was that the nurse called and that we did not talk before I was given a prescribed plan that included a statin drug without more discussion on its benefits and its risks. Statin drugs do lower cholesterol and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, but they also come with an array of side effects—muscle aches and weakness, GI symptoms, and more. There is a ton of research that is now questioning the cost/benefit of statins.
I have to admit, I did not give the doctor a chance to explain how we would proceed or how he would follow up with me. When I got off the phone, I felt sad that the conversation did not go well and I wished I had sat in a 30-minute meditation prior to speaking with this doctor. This doctor has an excellent reputation as a cardiologist, is very kind and personable and I am sure he has saved many lives. I wish I could have expressed myself in a better way to be heard by the doctor. I also wish his office would have scheduled a follow up appointment so that he could go over the results with me in his office. Most of all I have used this experience to reflect on my own defensiveness and fear and also trust that there is a blanket of universal forgiveness between both of us.
Doctor patient communication can be difficult. There is fear on all sides. I have a deep respect for the medical profession. I am a Registered Nurse and know how difficult it is to navigate around a system that is frustrating to the patient and the doctor. And I also know that in today’s world of alternative, integrative and functional medicine, there is much that medical schools and nursing schools have failed to teach. The research is often driven by pharmaceutical companies who have a vested interest in us taking drugs when there are so many alternatives to healing. I will not take a long-term prescription without research and that is my current mission about statin drugs and heart disease prevention and treatment in general.
Dr. Danielle Ofri’s book What Patients Say. What Doctors Hear, states it well:
Patients, anxious to convey their symptoms, feel an urgency to “make their case” to their doctors. Doctors, under pressure to be efficient, multitask while patients speak and often miss the key elements. Add in stereotypes, unconscious bias, conflicting agendas, and the fear of lawsuits and the risk of misdiagnosis and medical errors multiplies dangerously.
A week later, I went to my primary care physician. He agreed that going on a statin drug was premature, but also agreed that we needed to take the tests serious and take a closer look at my cardiac risks and current status. He was grateful to have the test results for additional information about my health. He recommended beets and cayenne pepper as nutritional support for the heart. He also recommended 1000 mg of Niacinamide (Vit B3 derivative-not as much research on its affect on cholesterol like Niacin). He also said he may want me on a low dose of of Zocor, which is a statin. I might add that my physician knows me well and suggested I relax and balance my chakras.
My lifestyle supports health but there is more I can do. I exercise (making sure I get 10,000 steps a day) but could increase the intensity of my walks and add more strength training. My diet is plant based; no red meat and I avoid saturated fat- but I am far from perfect and need to be more aware of salt and sugar. I do meditate, but I am a hyper personality and need to focus on breath awareness and slowing down in between life’s adventures. But more important than all of that is that I often feel I live in two worlds. On one hand I teach and coach a very deep spiritual path of love and forgiveness and on the other hand I have the same fears of illness and death as everyone else. Our fears fuel our defenses and often cause us to separate rather than join.
In two months we will repeat all of the blood tests that aid in determining my current heart disease risk. Since being more mindful of my diet, exercise and meditation as well as forgiving myself and the doctor, (Forgiveness is a powerful medicine for the heart), I have noticed my blood pressure has been staying within the normal range and I am hoping my blood tests show that I can reduce my heart disease risks without taking medicine.
In the meantime, I will continue my research, be mindful of my lifestyle, and stay “open hearted”. I have a follow up appointment with the cardiologist in 6 months. I’m not sure if he is the right fit for me, but it would be nice if we could meet again. I will go prepared to listen to him and hopefully he can also listen to my concerns and we can join in a much more productive manner.
In the end, its not about any of this. It’s always about all the lessons we learn along the way and as I continue the journey, I enjoy bringing you along.